Let’s bring back the Censor! That’s right, the Censor. Not censors. The Censor was an elected position in the days of the Roman Republic that entailed two responsibilities. First, taking a “census” of Roman citizens and compiling a list of their property for tax purposes. (Don’t ever expect to get away without paying property taxes.) Second, he – actually they, as normally there were two Censors – were responsible for watchdogging public morality. These guys had real power. In Plutarch’s Lives is a description of how Cato the Elder – Cato the Younger, his great-grandson, is he for whom the Cato Institute is named – took to confiscating property for the public treasury from those he deemed to be living in a profligate manner. You didn’t mess with this guy. If you had it, prudence dictated that you didn’t flaunt it.
As one would assume, this office required the election of a person of high moral standing and great personal discipline so as to avoid the temptations presented by tax avoiders offering bribes and public self-indulgers wishing to continue indulging. And Cato the Elder was just such a man. Despite his wealth, he often cooked his own meals, ate what the help – freedman or slave – ate and worked his own fields. He eschewed the tinsel of life and wondered why so many so highly regarded what was least necessary for life.
So let’s, by all means, change the Constitution and establish, in deference to our pagan roots, the office of Censor. Public morals will be in his or her or their hands. Elect the Censors every two years along with the Representatives to Congress and we can eliminate all this wasted adjudicatory time and fire several thousand attorneys in the process. At least we’ll get persons of our choice to directly impose morality on us rather than the ACLU, judges and overly-talkative Senators.
After all, even the Romans didn’t entrust their morals to their Senators.