Rome and the Future of the Constitution

Everyone’s heard the old maxim “history always repeats itself.” A few weeks ago, I was reading a section of my history textbook on the decline of the Roman Empire, and I came to a startling and rather unsettling realization: we are Rome. Much of the United States’ legislative and legal structures came from Rome’s republic days. In fact, our own decline is remarkably similar to Rome’s. For example, Rome’s emperors reduced the silver content in their metals, causing inflation, they engaged in a one-sided trade with China and India, and moral decay ran rampant throughout the Empire. Does any of this sound familiar? They did the same things we’re doing right now in our country and it destroyed them.

Rome was once so strong and so wide-spread. It took them over a thousand years to even begin declining. However, once they did, it only took them about two centuries to completely fall apart. Our country has barely been around for two centuries. It made me wonder if anything could keep us from Rome’s fate. You know, Rome had a set of laws like our Constitution. It didn’t stop them from eventually failing. I began to wonder if our Constitution still even matters.

After some thought, I realized that, yes, it does matter. Although we are very similar to Rome in many ways, we are different in one very important aspect: This country was created by some of the most impressive, intelligent, and insightful men who ever lived, and they had history to look at. They studied Rome and other failed civilizations to find out what didn’t work and what did. They used this information to create a code of laws and liberties that have sustained this country through war and peace-time the same.

Our Founders understood human nature. They knew that without rules and regulations man became corrupt. For this reason, they created a series of checks and balances to be put in place in government. Each part of government, Judicial, Executive, and Legislative, was created so that each holds the other accountable. They did this so that no one branch of government or one man could take over and thus bring the country into a dictatorship. The Founders knew the importance of the public’s participation in government. This is why they made it so that the supreme ruler and commander in chief of the land and its lawmakers were elected by the general populous. They knew that a code of laws alone could not keep a country safe and strong. After finishing the writing of the Constitution, someone came up to Benjamin Franklin and asked him what kind of government they had given the people. His answer is a caution to the American public that we are responsible for making sure the United States stays under our control. He said, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Our Constitution is one of the main things that have made this country the most powerful and stable in the world. Whenever our nation’s leaders follow the Constitution, we prosper. Whenever they don’t, the country begins to decline. Our Constitution is still relevant because it still works. It was created to stop us from becoming Rome. All we have to do is abide by it we can stop history from repeating itself once again.


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