Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Strong Emperor System


(The Roman Free Press, published December 16, 2016 at 00:17)

ROME- Erasmus gave every Roman something to think about as they celebrate the Saturnalia when he turned heads with his proposed reforms of the Roman Imperial system.

Erasmus- born Bill Firechild, the Arctic Police Chief who was born in Roman-held Alert on Ellesmere Island- commanded the floor at the first debate in the election for Roman Caesar, with the highlight being a proposal that would literally turn the Roman Imperial governing system on its head. His proposal would place the entire legislative authority on the Emperor and take it away from the Tribune of the Plebs, contrary to what the Twelve Tables state currently.

“What Valerius has proven and the Assyrians later confirmed,” Erasmus said during a debate that was fierce on both sides, “is that Rome cannot function without a strong Caesar. We have allowed our enemies catch up on us because they are more decisive and more brazen than we are, because our system means our decision making is bogged down in way too much red tape.”

Technically, in the Roman system, the Caesar cannot pass any laws or draft them himself- that is the sole authority of the Tribune of the Plebs. The Caesar, though, has the ability to veto laws and is the Empire’s top judge, meaning that any court challenge to a Tribune law ends with his ruling. In practice, laws tend to come after negotiations between the Caesar and the Tribune, making the actual legislative process a mere formality.

It’s a legislative process that many of the Empire’s top constitutional lawyers have been sounding the alarms on, even though most of the public has never thought twice about it. Since the Caesar is the sole voice able to interpret the Tables on a whim, constitutional experts have worried that the Caesar could find ways to “creatively” disregard the Tables via interpretations, creating the potential for legal abuses that would be unprecedented in Roman lands. Additionally, there have been many instances where the Tribune, having to navigate through the voices of its 351 different members, have trouble coming to agreements on laws, meaning the legislative process can be slowed down considerably due to the bureaucracy.

Under Erasmus’ system, the roles would be reversed. The Caesar, through his cadre of advisors, would be the sole legislative authority across the Empire, while a streamlined Tribune would serve as the Empire’s top judicial authority, also having the ability to veto any Caesarian law. This way, Erasmus contends, decisions can be made much more quickly, allowing the Empire to be more decisive, while still ensuring that there is a body able to prevent the Caesar from abusing his power.

More importantly, Erasmus contended, assigning power in this way plays to modern perceptions of how “people generally think a republic works”.

“Most people tend to think the president is the sole authority that creates laws,” said Erasmus, “when the truth is hundreds of legislators are the country’s true source of power and the president effectively acts as an influential figurehead. My system gives the president the power everyone thinks he has, while ensuring the people are still given the opportunity to challenge his rulings if need be.”

Erasmus’ opponent, the current Caesar Valerius IV, tied in the polls with Erasmus, was quick to pounce on Erasmus’ proposals, asking sardonically, “if isn’t broke, why fix it?”

“Our system has worked for over 100 years,” said Valerius. “There is no need to change it and there is no appetite to change it.”

Valerius then pressed forward, contending that bestowing so much power on one person is a recipe for disaster, stating that differing opinions are needed in order for a sound decision to be made.

“Individually,” he stated, “we don’t always see every side to an issue and thus we’ll miss an important piece of information that’s pertinent to tackling the issue at hand. Different people get you to see things you never did, allowing you a broader scope and allowing you to make better decisions. Differing positions also prevents demagoguery because it counters inherent biases and forces decision makers to see an issue from a more rational and less emotional perspective.”

Erasmus disagreed with Valerius, stating that the Tribune’s ability to serve as the Caesarian veto would be enough.

“If the Caesar passes a law that is poorly thought out,” said Erasmus, “the Tribune is still able to stop it. What I am to stop is needless haggling on obvious decisions, all because a certain bloc of legislators have a beef with another segment.”

Valerius countered that the pettiness would still remain, before asking what plan Erasmus had in case the Tribune and the Caesar can’t come to an agreement on a law.

“Then they’d keep negotiating until they come to a mutual understanding,” said Erasmus.

“Like what we have now,” said Valerius. “Again, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”