It was Julius Caesar said the words, “Alea iacta est,” in Latin, as he ordered his troops to cross the Rubicon river somewhere in Italy in 49 B.C.E. Alea iacta est roughly translates to, “The die has been cast,” and the quote is attributed to him through Suetonius, an ancient Roman historian who told of the lives of the Roman Emperors & Julius Caesar.
It was forbidden for Caesar to cross the Rubicon river with his army intact and in doing so, both Caesar and his troops had become enemies of the Roman Republic, traitors, and in the same swoop, had catalyzed the Roman Civil War.
It was with these words that Caesar broke the Roman Republic and ushered in the era of Imperial Rome that would follow for centuries.
This quote has a unique feature about it. When translated into English, it has a double meaning. And that double-meaning is perfectly suitable to both that moment in history, January 10th of 49 B.C. — the moment of Julius Caesar — and the looming moment of January 6th of 2021— the moment of Donald J. Trump.
Only then will we find out if the American Republic will stand the test of time, or if it will fade and crumble like the Republic of ancient Rome under the pressure put on weakened institutions by one charismatic man with a dedicated following.
“The die has been cast,” can refer to either a person casting a die from a pair of dice, his entire future literally being up in the air and subject to chance. A game of Russian roulette.
It can also mean that a sculptor has solidified his work of art, sealing its fate in bronze to rest unmoving for eternity. The game has been finalized — the outcome determined.
In the first rendering, the caster is an unwitting participant in a contest of wills, a game that’s greater than he himself is, and one that’s not orchestrated by him. In the second rendering, it means he’s solidified his grasp around an object whose fate has been sealed by him, and he is the conductor in complete control over the world he has formed.
And now, we can only hope that Trump’s die is of the former type, a game of chance that’s up in the air and subject to the forces of institutional decency, his die careening and bound to bump up against the enduring laws of the American Republic that were casted over two centuries ago.
Today, like most other days, Trump is urging his supporters to march on Washington D.C., the U.S. Capitol, and wreak havoc on the United States of America.
Like Caesar, Trump has a vastly outnumbered group of exceedingly small and committed followers, loyalists who are undyingly committed to the Trumpian dogma, unwavering in their support even through the most atrocious behaviors.
They stood by him unflinchingly through his locking children into internment camps. They stood by him through his assault on LGBTQ rights, they stood by him through his assault on the environment, and all the laws and every single institutional norm that we’ve ever had.
The self-declared Republican “party of law and order” stood by their leader as he ripped our Constitution to shreds and wiped his ass with the entirety of our Anglo-American legal tradition and pissed on our constitutional norms.
And even worse than all of this, armed militiamen have taken to the streets in alarming numbers this year to support his efforts to destroy the Republic. Just like Caesar’s men had done 2,069 years ago.
The American die has been cast into the air, and we wait with wide eyes and fixed stares for it to finally fall and tumble to a rest. Whatever may come, may come. And hopefully we’re prepared for it.
January 6th of 2021 is the day Congress formally counts the electoral votes and the president-change will be officially solidified. Some Republicans in Congress have sworn to disrupt the event and try to postpone it, or outright undo it, while others have chastised them for what can only be interpreted as aiding in a fascist takeover.
January 6th of 2021 will be Trump’s Caesarian moment. And the proverbial battle lines are already being drawn behind the scenes.
The U.S. Secret Service, the institution charged with guarding the President of the United States and the incoming President-Elect, Joe Biden, is already starting to swap out its staff. The fear is, as the transition from a Trump Presidency to a Biden Presidency looms, that Trump may have installed some of his cronies in the Secret Service who may have less-than-savory motives.
Yes, it’s reached that point.
The Secret Service is hiring the old agents who’d worked for Biden under the Obama Administration. While changes in Secret Service are common during presidential transitions, the move is believed to lend some additional protection and security to Biden during the riskiest transition of power in U.S. History.
Trump still hasn’t accepted that he lost the election and neither have 126 Republican members of Congress who’ve fought, this month, to overturn the democratic election and install Trump in an attempted autocratic takeover.
On the Trumpian side, this month has been terrifying. It began with the United States Supreme Court rejected a plea from the Trump administration, the State of Texas, eighteen other Republican States, and 126 Republican members of Congress to overturn the votes in three key states to President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.
The fact that so many members of our government and bona fide American States were asking the court to invalidate a democratically held election is deeply alarming.
In Michigan, the legislative offices needed to be closed down to the public after credible threats of violence were made. An armed white terrorist organization plotted to kidnap the governor of Michigan before putting her on trial in a mock trial and executing her. The FBI thankfully thwarted this plot.
Formal rallies are now being planned by organizations like The Proud Boys with the goal of drawing a massive pro-Trump crowd to Washington D.C. to try and put pressure on the American congress to overturn the election. The threats of violence are palpable. The scale much more massive than thirteen wannabe soldier boys planning to kidnap Governor Whitmer of Michigan.
And this is no joke.
The groups and individuals are planning to illegally smuggle firearms to the downtown area of D.C., according to the Washington Post, with the stated intention of setting up an armed encampment on the grass of the National Mall. These are the kinds of conversations that are taking place in chat rooms across the country right now.
While none of us truly know the hand of cards Trump’s holding, we do know that no matter how ugly these armed protests — and possibly clashes — turn out to be, a rag-tag patchwork of racist groups like The Proud Boys and The Oath Keepers are simply no match for the U.S. Military, a force that’s grown into the most efficient and powerful military organization in the world.
I’m less worried about a takeover of the government on January 6th. I’m more worried about a clash between the Federal Government and armed right-wing lunatics who’ve decided to burn the Republic rather than concede defeat, and what that clash means for the future of the United States.
After all, on January 20th of 2021, Trump will be removed from the White House. But the angry, prone-to-violence, frothing-at-the-mouth, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and anti-American following will not. They will linger and remain as enduring agents of Trump’s terrible legacy of violence and hate — just like a statue that’d been cast in bronze.