With apologies to Game of Thrones aficionados (I personally don’t imbibe), success in presidential politics has historically relied upon good old despotic leader type attributes like intimidation, widespread corruption, and power wielding as reflected in ones ability to use unfettered access, influence, political connections, and leverage among others who hold substantial power and authority. LBJ is a good example of an “old school” politician. My sons tell me Game of Thrones similarly gets down and dirty as far as collusion, backstabbing and the proverbial “heads will roll” approach to becoming “top dog”.
For many reasons this formula has changed to one that depends more on the use of personal charisma and psychosocial connections (ie.,reciprocal projection) with the largest and broadest base of voters possible, including those with grassroots as well as “power broker” ties. While personal ambition and drive have always been contributing factors, winning a presidential election today now requires an individual with endless ambition and a mental manufacturing plant (ego) for both that operates essentially 24/7 and 365 days a year. Based on the above, Donald Trump had all the “right stuff”. Hillary Clinton, while well suited to the actual job requirements as POTUS, stumbled by choosing to not recognize bad omens earlier or listen to strident warnings given to her by her consort hubby Bill ( a pretty sharp/charismatic political cookie himself). As a result, she was outplayed on the last campaign battlefield. A psychological analysis and political post-mortem would show that HRC lacked specific Julius Caesar-like qualities that Trump possesses. In Game of Thrones terms, you don’t need a Valyrian steel sword if you’ve got JC’s “tiger blood”. Sad but true.
If you’re interested in history, read below two separate psychobiographical summaries and note the specific ways, like it or not, that Donald Trump holds a scary resemblance to Julius Caesar that wonky Hillary Clinton (and the Republican establishment) weren’t prepared for:
Traits/Qualities Julius Caesar Possessed that Led to His Remarkable Success
Intelligent and Self-Confident
First and foremost, Julius Caesar, the Roman general and statesman who upended the Republic and it’s laws, was a smarty pants, especially in military strategy. His intelligence and supreme self-confidence were both important reasons why he was so successful. Caesar was a compelling speaker. When he was addressing the Senate or the public, Romans hung on his every word. His critical mind was especially beneficial during his military career. He specifically planned and strategized to outmaneuver his opponents.
Julius Caesar: Energetic
In addition to being clever, Caesar was incredibly energetic. As the governor of Gaul, Caesar was able to fight wars for seven years, while also writing a series of books recounting his escapades. During his life, Caesar traveled non-stop. Whether he was fighting a war or simply visiting a Roman province, he was constantly on the move.
Caesar’s energy was also evidenced in his romantic exploits. Over the course of his life, he had three wives and multiple mistresses. Imagine taking over a country, fighting multiple wars, AND juggling several girlfriends at the same time. The man never tired!
Julius Caesar: Cunning and Generous
Immense military intelligence and energy were not the only qualities that made Caesar a formidable leader. He was also exceptionally driven, power-hungry, and cunning. Caesar came from a noble but poor family. What Caesar lacked in funds he made up for with an insatiable thirst for power. Every action was calculated for personal gain; nothing he did was without purpose.
For example, when one of his greatest political opponents died, Caesar went out of his way to memorialize the man. Not because he liked him or thought he was a good guy, but because Caesar knew that speaking about his fallen adversary would help neutralize his opponents posthumous influence.
Aside from being cunning, Caesar was also generous, bestowing lavish gifts on the people closest to him. He gave his mistress, Cleopatra, her own palace in Rome. Additionally, he showed mercy to the people he conquered and spared many of the political opponents he defeated.
Julius Caesar: Personality Type Analysis
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman aristocrat, politician, military leader, Dictator, and author, active in the last decades of the Roman Republic, in the first century BC. His impact on western history is enormous: he was chiefly responsible for incorporating Gaul (i.e. modern France) into the Mediterranean world i.e. the Roman Empire, as well as indirectly for the same with regards to Britain. The modern calendar, based on a year of 365 days with a leap year every 4 years, and 12 months, is essentially the same one as introduced under his instructions. The month ‘July’ was named so in his honour, after his clan name ‘Julius’, immediately after his death. His family name, ‘Caesar’, eventually became a synonym for ’emperor’, surviving into the 20th century as ‘Kaiser’ and ‘Tsar’. He is also generally regarded as one of history’s greatest military leaders, his battles serving as case studies to this day.
Although by ancestry belonging to the high nobility – his clan ‘Julius’ claimed direct descent to Aeneas and therefore to the goddess Venus – Caesar’s family was (relatively) impoverished by the time he was born in 100 BC. In the ultra-competitive, expensive, high-stakes world of Roman politics of his time, that meant that Caesar, not withstanding his titled family background had to adopt unconventional means of advancing his political career from an early age.
Especially considering his circumstances and powerful opponents, Caesar’s political career was extraordinarily successful, with him advancing faster, and to greater heights, than any of his contemporaries, even those far wealthier and better connected.
Simplistically, Caesar’s whole career progressed on the basis of all-or-nothing extreme risk-taking. In electoral politics, that meant spending money far beyond his means, getting into debt to the point of criminal liability – but always rescued by electoral or military success. But failure at any point could have meant bankruptcy, disgrace, and exile: famously, at the age of 37, he bet it all in winning the election to Pontifex Maximus, telling his mother that day that either he’d win or have to go into exile.
Likewise, as a military leader, his style was to get himself and his men into very difficult situations (numerical inferiority, poor logistics, unknown and hostile territory, etc.) and then use tactical brilliance and improvisation to find a way out – with supreme self-confidence in his abilities and, as he himself put it, “Caesar’s luck”. In so doing, he basically re-invented ancient warfare as he went along, even in situations where he had no previous experience, as in siege warfare (Alesia) or urban warfare (Alexandria) or in more conventional battles (Pharsalus). This meant that more conventional or cautious commanders such as Pompey were outmanoeuvred by Caesar even when in numerical and tactical advantage.
Caesar obviously trusted his on-the-moment tactical improvisation and often neglected the accumulation of intelligence, as in his first expedition to Britain. That almost led to disaster as he simply did not realize that the Channel tides were far more intense than those of the Mediterranean.
Caesar’s never-ending, sometimes reckless pursuit of political power, as well as his natural ability to lead and his confidence in his own assessment of forces on the battlefield on the spot, demonstrate a fearlessness that few possess. This is also confirmed by his apparent lack of physical fear even in very disadvantageous situations, even when kept prisoner by pirates (he mocked them and said he’d crucify them as soon as he was set free, which he did).
As a leader of men, Caesar was notorious for not caring about imposing discipline on his men in the way of rules: what he cared about was their loyalty, obedience, competence. and trust (i.e. willingness to follow him into seemingly hopeless situations). His leadership was based not mainly on the fact that he was their hierarchical and social superior, but that he was better than they were at being leader and therefore deserved to be followed.
Caesar’s extreme confidence can be seen in his own memoirs of his conquest of Gaul, when he repeatedly boasts of his personal relationship to the Gallic chieftains (and complains of those who couldn’t be trusted). It can also be seen in his approach to political enemies: Caesar was so confident in his ability to gain the trust of those he had defeated that he preferred to pardon them and receive them as friends once they were vanquished.
Caesar’s pursuit of personal political power and wealth, besides based on extreme risk-taking, was also based on ignoring conventions and rules, even laws. His approach was to achieve his goals, regardless of their difficulty and worry less about such “details”. The problem with that is that his continuous illegalities led to him being liable to prosecution by his political enemies – precisely what meant that his only way in the political ladder was up: even a brief period out of office would mean legal prosecution. Like his near-disastrous military traps, that was a longer-term personal trap that he found himself into, arguably without realizing it, leaving him no way out except through his ultimate extreme gamble i.e. illegally invading Italy proper with his legions, characteristically saying “let the dice fly” as he did so.
Having achieved (illegal) control of Rome and Italy through sheer military power, Caesar was concerned about legalizing it but he did so in a seemingly ad hoc manner, becoming at first Dictator for just a few days, then consul, then later Dictator again in different ways – as with military campaigns, that was done in a ‘making it up as you go along manner’ and apparently having less concern with consistency.
Although chiefly concerned with completing his victory over his political enemies, during his period as Dictator, Caesar engaged into a series of isolated reforms: a settlement of the debts of over-indebted individuals, urban reform in Rome, reform of the then-chaotic calendar (introducing the modern calendar), reform of the supply of subsidized grain, etc. All of those were implemented with enormous energy in a very brief period of time, but rather as a series of isolated measures aimed at fixing specific problems pragmatically, not as part of any ‘restructuring’ of Roman society or constitution. Indeed, despite his own position having become essentially extra-constitutional, Caesar showed no apparent concern (or idea) of how to adjust the constitution accordingly, and at the time of his death his plan was to start another huge military campaign, against Parthia (Persia). This shows where his priorities lay.
Julius Caesar was a man most focused and able, and an ultra confident individual, particularly in matters of career climbing, military exploits and conquest, but almost always carried out in a way where extreme (and sometimes almost disastrous) risk-taking was the pattern, and with little sign of longer-term strategy or vision. In fact, in most matters he appeared to lack any visible ‘ideology’ (except that of his rising to the top).
Finally, besides being confident in his ability to get the respect and trust of individuals, by all accounts he was the perfect politician in terms of knowing the value of propaganda and in exercising enormous personal charm when he wanted to.