Thomas Jefferson’s political ideas were largely informed by Roman republican and imperial ideas. Together with the other members of the first Congress sought to create a mixed constitution that balanced monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. This is why America is not technically a democracy.
They had ideas of what a good empire could be, e.g., Jefferson’s Empire of Liberty — that borrowed from the universal ideals of the Roman Empire. Jefferson also warned that empires could injure freedom if there were not checks and balances.
The dictatorial or absolute rulers who emerged during the Roman civil wars and Roman Empire provided antimodels, examples of the Hell we should never descend into. In the days of Emperor Augustus, the Senate was very powerful and ruled Rome. Augustus was followed by Tiberius who was killed by his nephew, Caligula. Caligula was the first emperor to see himself as a king and eventually as a god. He bought the favor of the Pretorian Guard. When Caligula died, the Senate saw their opportunity to regain power. Unfortunately, the Pretorian Guard appointed Claudius. The Senate would never regain power, and successive emperors would lead the empire to destruction.
Question, President-elect Donald J. Trump seems to see himself as the absolute authority. Will he ignore the power of the Senate and House? Will he buy the military? Is Trump America’s Caligula?