Historians often tend to draw parallels between Ancient Rome and the United States since these countries can be compared in terms of their geopolitical, cultural and economic importance. Moreover, their political and legal systems are often compared. This paper is aimed at examining the similarities and differences between Roman and the U.S. Senate. First of all, one should mention that the institutions have to be responsible for limiting the power of political leaders.
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Yet, it is necessary to keep in mind that the U.S. Senate is much more inclusive because this institution does not deny a person the right to membership on the basis of gender or income level. Moreover, the responsibilities of these organizations differ in many ways. These are the questions that should be discussed more closely.
It should be kept in mind that the Founding Fathers were partly inspired by the Ancient Rome, especially its Republican Period (Meckler 146). There are some important differences that can be identified. First of all, the Roman Senate acted as the system of checks and balances that could prevent the state from taking irrational steps (Meckler 146).
In particular, they had to limit the authority of consuls who could be regarded as the most important political leaders in the Ancient Rome. Similar role is played by the U.S Senate since it has to make sure that the President of the United States does not take any irrational steps. For instance, this organization has a right to start an impeachment trial provided that the President cannot meet the performance standards that are set for this post (Murphy 10).
This is one of the most crucial similarities that should be taken into account. Another important issue is the ability of the Senate to control public finances. This is one of the tasks that the Roman Senate had to cope with (Meckler 146).
In turn, the U.S Senate has the authority to influence the economic development of the country and governmental expenditures. Therefore, it is possible to say that in some cases these institutions perform the same functions. This is one of the reasons why historians draw parallels between these institutions.
Much attention should also be paid to such an aspect as the legislative role of these institutions. The Roman Senate was responsible for passing degrees. However, these decrees did not have an immediate legal status. In other words, they could propose a change in the legislation, but this proposal had to be accepted by the Roman Assemblies (Byrd 180). This is one of the main distinctions that should be singled out.
Apart from that, the Roman Senate was more responsible for interpreting the existing laws and precedents, rather than introducing new ones. This is one of the main aspects that can be identified. The functioning of the U.S. Senate also has similar aspects. In particular, the authority of this social institution can be limited by the House of Representatives. Additionally, this organization cannot introduce laws that contradict the Constitution of the United States.
Therefore, the U.S. Senate cannot be viewed as the sole source of legislature. Therefore, the political system of the Ancient Rome was used as an example by American leaders who designed the government of the country.
Yet, it is possible to identify several importance differences between these institutions. First of all, one can point out that the U.S. Senate is more inclusive, since its rules allow the membership of both men and women. In contrast, the Roman Senate permitted only male citizens (Burgan 90). Therefore, one should not suppose that this institution represented the views of the entire Roman population. Additionally, Roman senators held life-time positions, while American legislators have to be re-elected.
Certainly, these people can also occupy these positions for a long time, but they can do it only through election. This is one of the crucial distinctions that should be considered since American senators are much more accountable to the citizens of the country. There are other differences that should not be overlooked. In particular, Roman senators had to meet certain property requirements in order to be eligible for this post (Burgan 90).
In contrast, American legislators do not have to comply with such standards. In other words, the Roman Senate can be perceived as a class-based institution. However, one has to admit that American senators are usually well-to-do people. Still, it is possible to argue that modern American Senate is much more inclusive. This is one of its major characteristics.
Apart from that, the Roman Senate was responsible for the investigation of many crimes. For instance, they had to examine such cases as poisoning, treason, murder, and treason (Byrd 180). In contrast, the U.S Senate does not have to cope with such tasks. Admittedly, they can start an impeachment trial, but they do investigate criminal cases. This difference should not be disregarded by people who compare the Ancient Rome and the United States.
Nevertheless, it is important to remember that in the course of its development, Ancient Rome underwent many important changes. Moreover, the role of Senate did not remain the same in the course of several centuries. For example, during the Imperial Period, the importance of this institution declined dramatically. This trend began to manifest itself since the time of Augustus (Farazmand 20).
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This issue should not be overlooked should not be overlooked by historians because social institutions do not remain static. Finally, it is not permissible to judge social institutions according to the standards of the modern time. For example, at the time of the Roman Republic, it was virtually unthinkable for policy-makers to enable women to act as legislators. It is possible to say that American political system is more egalitarian.
Nonetheless, one can still argue that the ideals of the Ancient Rome inspired many of American politicians. Furthermore, during the period of Antiquity, the very existence of the Roman Senate was an important breakthrough in the social development of Europe.
This discussion suggests that the comparison between Rome and the United States should be examined very critically. First of all, these organizations can be perceived as system of checks and balances that should limit the authority of political leaders. Furthermore, one should not forget about the control of public finances.
Nevertheless, it is vital to remember that the U.S. Senate is far more inclusive, than its Roman counterpart. More importantly, the authority of the American senators is much more limited, because they have to be re-elected. They are more accountable to the citizens to the citizens. These are the main issues that should be identified.
Byrd, Robert. The Senate of the Roman Republic: Addresses on the History of Roman Constitutionalism, Washington: Government Printing Office, 1995. Print.
Burgan, Michael. Empire of Ancient Rome, New York: Infobase Publishing, 2009. Print.
Farazmand, Ali. Handbook of Comparative and Development Public Administration, New York: CRC Press, 2001. Print.
Murphy, John. The Impeachment Process, London: Infobase Publishing, 2007. Print.
Meckler, Michael. Classical Antiquity and the Politics of America: From George Washington to George W. Bush, Waco: Baylor University Press, 2006. Print.