Letter to the Editor: We are Rome

Kimball Shinkoskey

Dear Editor,

There was a time, the historian Livy says, when democratic Rome was going through excessive partisan politics. One faction cried out for the right to appeal election results. Another faction worried that politicians were wrongly alleging election fraud.

Rome’s wiser politicians understood that to be a successful nation abroad they had to “maintain political tranquility at home.” One important way to do that was to diminish class differences, in part through progressive taxation. But Rome’s wealthy class fought reforms that gave land and the spoils of war to poorer people.

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Livy says older members of the party of the rich “knew that the young men in their party were going too far.” The young rabble-rousers insisted that any reforms would subvert the nation’s families, the country’s religion, and Rome’s greatness in the world. But, instead, the country got stronger as reforms were implemented.

Livy, looking back over 750 years of Roman history, wrote, “Internal dissension is the poisonous disease of wealthy and powerful communities.”

Kimball Shinkoskey

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at kboyer@gannett.com, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

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