Updated: Mar 30, 2022
By Richard Allen – March 28, 2022
In 2000, Ridley Scott directed a blockbuster movie entitled, “Gladiator.” This film was nominated for 12 Academy Awards – winning five, including “Best Supporting Actor” for Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal of Commodus, the Roman Emperor who ruled from 180-192 A.D. In the movies semi-fictional account Commodus kills his father, Emperor Marcus Aurelius, to install himself as Caesar. Like most men who thirst for power, the character of Commodus as portrayed by the movie, sought to consolidate power and leave it all to his eventual heir.
Now, even after several years, the line that struck me most in this film happens during a dialogue between Commodus and his sister Lucilla. To understand the dynamics, Lucilla’s son Lucius would become Caesar at Maximus’ death if he had no heir. So, to help legitimize his claim to the throne, Commodus wanted his widowed sister to bear him a pure-blooded heir to rule after him. As it turns out, his real competition was not his sister’s son Lucius, but a popular Roman General named Maximus, played by Russell Crowe. Maximus, a hero of the people of Rome for his success on the battlefield, was also beloved by his soldiers. Commodus, fearing Maximus’ popularity, seeks to kill him and his family to eliminate the threat. While he does manage to have his family murdered, Maximus survives and finds himself thrown into slavery as a gladiator, eventually making his way back to Rome to entertain Caesar at the Coliseum.
What fascinated me was not just the realism and acting of Commodus’ character, but a line that he screams at his sister in defense of his own flawed character: “Am I not merciful?” What makes this statement intriguing, is how this ruler was so oblivious to his pampered, weak, envious, treacherous and narcissistic character. He was anything but merciful, but because of these same character flaws – he was incapable of being objective about who he was. People only obeyed him out of fear of death or for the privileges he might grant. While the story may be mostly fiction, the movie’s depiction of Commodus’ rule as Emperor of Rome, is an accurate composite of how many Kings, Queens, Emperors, Führers, Presidents, Tribal Chiefs and Party Chairmen historically behaved. Like Commodus’ character, most of those who rule today, seem to be oblivious to the wants, needs and plight of everyday people. Joseph Brandon, our President In Name Only, is just such a man. It’s not just that he’s suffering from age and forgetfulness, this is just who Joe and the Elites are.
Just this week, he commented “there will be food shortages” as glibly as reporting the weather. I thought we were going to “build back better?” What happened to all the bluster about how his predecessor, Donald Trump hadn’t really fixed Obama’s lagging economy that was on life support after eight years of our first Woke President? How could Brandon so callously comment on his destruction of the American Economy and its people in a short 14 months of his rule? We’re always told by the Media Elites: Trump and the Republicans represent wealthy fat-cats, and don’t care about regular Americans, but it’s the caring Democrats who will make things fair, give everyone a fair share and distribute wealth away from the fat-cats to redistribute it to the poor… . Apparently, that wasn’t Brandon or his Elite Brigade of never-worked-a-day-in-their-lives, but know everything Activist’s real agenda. And now as the fruit of their deliberate malfeasance comes to light, they tell us like Commodus, Brandon is basically saying: “Am I not merciful?”
Joe Brandon’s record is an unmitigated disaster. His monetary policy, including $1.6 Trillion in Covid Relief that paid people to stay home and not produce, has led to a Supply Chain disruption like none we’ve seen in my lifetime. And the so-called Infrastructure-less Infrastructure Bill – is just a give-away to his Corporate Crony friends. Unemployment is up and rising, Energy prices 25% higher than when he took office, and Inflation is getting close to record levels. Is he not merciful? He has supported and lobbied for our enemies, while showing our friends the cold shoulder. He’s made a mythical “Climate Crisis” the cornerstone of his Energy-less renewable energy policy, killing the Keystone Pipeline as his first act as PINO (President in Name Only). Is he not merciful? And now higher food prices and shortages, all to be blamed on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Is he not merciful? The answer is absolutely NO, HE’S NOT MERCIFUL - HE’S INSENSITIVE AND CRUEL!
The irony of this statement fits the Elite Class in America, just like it did Commodus. Everyone can see through their hypocrisy – and sense their reckless disregard for the common man and woman whom they pretend to care about, as they govern. But that’s just it, they don’t govern for anyone but to benefit themselves and other Elites. It should be asked, why do they have such disregard and are so unfeeling toward those they rule? It might surprise you, but the reasons are mostly the same as they were for Commodus, and like he, they too feel that they are ACTUALLY merciful and caring. I’d like to explore the four main reasons as they compare to the Elites and Royals of all ages.
First, the Wealthy Elites who rule us believe that they are our betters. They are smarter, they see the big picture and understand the complexity of government and how things work. Sadly, most people equate Leaders who talk well with greatness and intelligence. Nothing could be further from the truth! Just because people are eloquent or have verbal skills doesn’t mean that they are smart, wise or principled. In fact, I’m reminded of a line from “The Wizard of Oz,” where Dorothy is talking with the Scarecrow. The Scarecrow comments that he doesn’t have any brains, “just straw.” At which Dorothy asks: “Well, if you haven’t got any brains, how can you talk?” To which the Scarecrow makes an astute observation: “I don’t know, but some people without brains do an awful lot of talking!” And as we think about many of the Elites who have reigned in one fashion or another, most historians tell us that they commonly practiced inbreeding to preserve their “blue bloodlines,” so many were functionally illiterate and dumber than a bag of hammers. So much for their being our betters.
Second, the Wealthy Elites for the most part have lived pampered and privileged lives. There are a few exceptions, but looking at Joe Brandon, it’s painfully clear that he’s never held a job other than political office. He has spent a lifetime in government selling influence for cash. Like most politicians, he tries to alter the facts surrounding his upbringing, pretending to be a common man of the people. But truth be told, he has spent scant moments in life worrying about a paycheck. He’s always been living off the taxpayer, selling government and favors to the Banks, Credit Card Companies and other Financial Institutions. He’s not known for being smart, principled or even an effective legislator. But Brandon made up for his deficiencies by selling influence to the highest bidder. Commodus had a similar resume, and like Brandon had no empathy for those who work for their paycheck. He has no reference point; he’s never had to work or live paycheck to paycheck -- or worry about employment or where to live. Both Brandon and Commodus learned their insensitivity through the luxury of family privilege.
Third, Commodus didn’t have his father’s concern for Rome or its people, but still wanted to be loved as his father was. So he turned to entertainment. He was all too happy to reinstitute the Circus in the Coliseum to entertain the masses and curry their favor with brutality and death – if it would make him popular with the vulgar class in Rome. This alone should explain the symbiotic connection with Politics and Hollywood that we see today. That many of our Hollywood and Sports stars suck up to Brandon, seeking to curry his favor by endorsing him, shows the shallowness of our age. How someone could be so shallow as to think that some self-absorbed, drug-addicted movie star or sports figure knows anything about climate change, critical race theory or any issue, is absurd. Their only claim to fame is that they can memorize a few lines and pretend to be someone else – or can hit, shoot, or catch a ball better than others. These are not the Statesmen and Stateswomen anyone should listen to. Bill, Hillary, Barak and Joe appealed to this class of entertainers to make the case for themselves and their woke policies. Likewise, Commodus also appealed to entertainers and their fans to gain favor, not because he was a great or principled leader!
Fourth, the Wealthy Elites are for the most part morally bankrupt. Like Commodus and most of the ruling/royal families across history, most of the Wealthy Elites live by a different set of moral values. Because they can get away with anything they want, most of them do. Sexual libertines, the stories of incest, keeping mistresses or young sires, has been commonplace for these Elites throughout all of human history – even during the so-called Church Age in Europe! This phenomenon is also true of many of our Movie Stars and Sports Stars as well. Pampered because of their talent or attractiveness, they’ve always been treated differently and not held to the same standards as common folks. Funny, but Brandon married his brother’s wife – just like another pampered leader, “King Herod!” Here’s what scripture records about John the Baptist’s interaction with Herod:
“But Herod the tetrarch, who had been reproved by him (John the Baptist) for Herodias, his brother's wife, and for all the evil things that Herod had done, added this to them all, that he locked up John in prison.” (Luke 3:19-20)
If even a small part of the reports about sex-trafficking rings for children and child abuse are happening by our Elite Leaders are true, we are ripe for God’s judgment. There are just too many reports – even the supposedly debunked “Pizza-gate” has NOT been debunked, except by those who are implicated in the crimes. I’m not excusing this behavior, but has been the practice of the Governing Elites and other Leaders throughout history. As a 19th Century British politician accurately stated:
“Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” (British Lord Acton)
What is most ironic to me, is that like Commodus, Brandon and the whole host of political leaders – still want to be loved, and thought of as Merciful. I can only think of a few men in the past century who were morally principled, and even they cut corners and governed as shrewdly as our unprincipled leaders. Our problem is, we have made Leadership, especially that of the political class, a “permanent occupation” and not an act of serving. As I’ve mentioned before, our founding fathers built in “checks and balances,” hoping that people would serve out of a sense of civic duty, not for personal gain and enrichment. But as human nature is fallen, it didn’t take long before the “volunteer citizen statesman” became a parasite of the permanent political class – that’s who our betters really are.
We should know that “all men are liars, yet only God is true” (Romans 3:4). The example of leadership that we should emulate is THE LORD JESUS CHRIST! Scripture shows us that God alone leads altruistically – for His own glory, and for our good. Jesus warned us about earthly leaders, whether they be Kings, Queens, Emperors, Führers, Presidents, Tribal Chiefs or Party Chairmen. In fact He made certain to teach His Church not to be like Brandon or Commodus:
“But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be greatest among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’ ” (Matthew 20:25-28)
God grant us the wisdom to elect principled leaders as Jesus commands, who will serve selflessly – even as Christ came to serve, and not be served. Brandon or Commodus may cry out, asking us: “Am I not merciful?” Do not be fooled by smooth talkers who just want to entertain their slaves. I pray God will raise up men and women who selflessly serve for our good and God’s glory! Amen.