Will Plots vs. Trump Succeed?

Vincenzo Camuccini, "Death of Julius Caesar"

Vincenzo Camuccini, “Death of Julius Caesar”


 Ever since I realized that Marco Rubio would be facing a win-or-drop-out Florida vote on the Ides of March, I planned to use the soothsayer’s famous warning from Julius Caesar. I think I’ve come up with an even better application, however.

While Florida did indeed inflict “the unkindest cut” on its junior senator by handing Donald Trump a resounding victory, the real Ides of March may not have happened yet. The soothsayer should be warning about the GOP convention in July.

Before I explain, let’s look at the Rubio parallel. The GOP Establishment, like Marc Antony, attempted to prematurely crown their leader (first Jeb Bush, then Rubio). The Republican base, like the Roman Senate, rose up in defense of “small r” republican ideals and asserted itself through the ballot box.

But in some ways, the popular insurrection that Marc Antony whips up to route the conspirators seems more like a Trump strategy. So think of Trump as Julius Caesar, not Rubio. After all, he is the mob favorite whose unconventional behavior–he has already crossed many Rubicons–has been sending the GOP Establishment into conniption fits.

If the crowd continues to hand Caesar primary victories, then lean-and-hungry Cassius and Brutus need to pull off something spectacular on the floor of the convention hall to stop him. Already there have been multiple meetings, and experts are poring over nomination rules.

The main difference is that they’re openly talking about it. There will be nothing secret about this stabbing.

Unfortunately for the GOP Establishment, the play demonstrates that things could go badly for plotters. Since Trump would only be metaphorically stabbed, he would be around to play Marc Antony and stir up mob passions to enact payback. He’s already said, “I think you’d have riots” if the nomination were handed to someone who got far fewer votes.

Trump has Marc Antony’s instinct for inciting crowds. In setting off the mob rots, Antony knows how to fan the flames, blowing the fire, then suspending it, then blowing again. Here are the his final words prior to the rampage. He has just read aloud Caesar’s final will, which bequeathes to Rome’s citizens his private land:

Anthony [to the mob]: Moreover, [Caesar] hath left you all his walks,
His private arbors and new-planted orchards,
On this side Tiber; he hath left them you,
And to your heirs for ever, common pleasures,
To walk abroad, and recreate yourselves.
Here was a Caesar! when comes such another?

First Citizen: Never, never. Come, away, away!
We’ll burn his body in the holy place,
And with the brands fire the traitors’ houses.
Take up the body.

Second Citizen: Go fetch fire.

Third Citizen: Pluck down benches.

Fourth Citizen: Pluck down forms, windows, anything.

When it comes to a battle between Brutus and the wily Antony, bet on Antony. After all, he can turn even a funeral oration into an attack ad.

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