In the midst of the current upheaval, an interesting observation from Peter Salway’s Roman Britain (Oxford History of England). In his discussion of the relationship between the Roman Emperor and his provincial governors, he says the following:
It is easy to become so absorbed in the career of the hundreds of individuals whose appointments are known in great detail from the thousands of inscriptions surviving throughout the empire, that we assume ‘standard careers’ and forget that there was little to stop a capricious emperor from interfering with the system. In some ways the death or fall of an emperor or his favourite adviser was not unlike a change of president in the United States, where vastly more appointments are a matter of party and indeed of one man and his personal advisers than in Britain today…Patronage ran through the Roman system from top to bottom, and Rome cannot be understood without grasping the fact.
The Founders’ debt to democracy and Greece is well understood; less understood is their debt to Rome, and especially Republican Rome, which the Empire followed. OTOH, it has been the Progressive ideal from Woodrow Wilson onward to replace this reality with a more “professional” system, as many countries in Europe (and some working on getting out) have done. To attempt to superimpose a rule by bureaucrats on a system such as ours is unworkable; not grasping this has been one of the left’s many weaknesses, one which they may rue before too long.