I have been reading some history of Rome to see if it had any lessons for today. In the description of Rome around 133 BC, I found Mary Beard’s description apposite. She writes:
Looking back over the period, Roman historians regretted the gradual destruction of peaceful politics. Violence was increasingly taken for granted as a political tool. Traditional restraints and conventions broke down, one by one, until swords, clubs and rioting more or less replaced the ballot box. At the same time, to follow Sallust, a very few individuals of enormous power, wealth and military backing came to dominate the state – until Julius Caesar was officially made ‘dictator for life’ and then within weeks was assassinated in the name of liberty. When the story is stripped down to its barest and brutal essentials, it consists of a series of key moments and conflicts that led to the dissolution of the free state, a sequence of tipping points that marked the stages in the progressive degeneration of the political process, and a succession of atrocities that lingered in the Roman imagination for centuries.
Beard, Mary. SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome (p. 216). Liveright. Kindle Edition.
Her subsequent, more detailed, discussions brought out more similarities, the growth of parties divided by bitter animosities and points of view, increasing disparities between the wealthy and poor. Violence and murder was much more common in ancient Rome than in the US today. But it does make one wonder about where the US is heading, for if history does not repeat itself, it often rhymes.