Most of us are familiar with the phrase “To the victor goes the spoils,” which describes well the housecleaning one expects to see after an incumbent president is either voted out of office or followed by a successor from another party. The term actually was coined by Sen. William M. Marcy in reference to the victory of Andrew Jackson in the election of 1828.
So it’s not surprising that a new president would want to choose a team from his or her own party’s personnel pool. But sadly, this presidential transition calls to mind, not the old adage, but rather the treatment of the vanquished city of Carthage by Rome following the Third Punic War in 146 BCE.
Carthage had been the capital city of a flourishing Carthaginian civilization and major trading hub; indeed, it was one of the most affluent cities of the classical world. Unfortunately, at some point, it came to be viewed by the Romans as an existential threat to their leading role in the world. Wars ensued between the two, which were dubbed the Punic Wars, the third of which resulted in the utter destruction of Carthage. And therein lies an important tale.
The city was sacked and burned to the ground. The destruction was so complete that legend has it that not one stone was left on top of another one at the end of hostilities, and the Roman forces then proceeded to sow the ruins with salt so that nothing would ever grow there again.
Similarly, in current Washington, one gets the feeling that there is much more afoot than Democrats going about the business of staffing a new administration. Companies, law firms, and colleges are being pressured to not hire, or to fire, anyone who had been associated with Trump or expressed support for his policies.
Even expressions of support of efforts in court to prove corruption in the presidential elections have drawn opprobrium in the form of criticism, economic boycott, and the label of “right-wing radical.”
Just imagine, two sitting Republican U.S. Senators are now facing calls from some of their Democratic colleagues to resign from the Senate for having had the nerve to exercise their legal right to object to the outcome of the elections. And the book publisher of one was successfully pressured to refuse to release his book as scheduled because of his support for Trump.
To us, it almost seems that the Democrats are seeking to utterly destroy the Republicans so that they will not be able to mount any challenges in the near future to the current Democratic control of the presidency and both houses of Congress. So they make toxic any association with Republicans and/or their policies.
In fact, this goes a long way in explaining why the Democrats have pursued the out-the-door impeachment and conviction of President Trump. In the House, it provided a forum to force Republican members to take a public position in support of Trump and it will do the same in the Senate.