Pundits sometimes cite the decline and fall of the Roman Empire as a metaphor to illuminate what many see as the impending decline and fall of the United States. Between the third and fifth centuries Rome did indeed evolve into a highly centralized and militarized state that was supported by an increasingly impoverished economic base which invites comparison with contemporary Washington. But a better metaphor for America's current malaise might well be the final days of the Roman Republic. The fall of the Roman Republic in the first century B.C. came about due to the rise of warring factions fueled by the massive corruption within the political class that was itself derived from huge sums of money that were the spoils of the imperial expansion that started with the Punic Wars and which provided opportunities to loot the subject nations to fund one's political campaign. Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Caesar and Crassus were all both enablers and products of republican decline. Julius Caesar's famous invasion of Gaul was prompted by his need to obtain money to pay off his debts and finance his political career.
The example of Rome led America's Founding Fathers to warn about the evils of faction, the corrupting effect of money and the passionate attachment to foreign interests. Unfortunately, highly partisan politics fueled by vast quantities of money some of which comes from sources with openly promoted foreign interests has become a reality in Washington and partly explains the decline of America's own ruling class.