Perhaps the greatest defeat the Roman Republic ever suffered was at the hands of Hannibal at the Battle of Cannae in 216 BC.

Livy estimates that some 50,000 Romans were slaughtered and nearly 20,000 captured. Hannibal lost fewer than 6,000 men.

It was a brilliant tactical victory for the Carthaginian general. The sun and wind were at his back. He had deployed his men in a convex semicircle with his weakest troops in front. When the armies assembled for battle, Hannibal ordered his men to shuffle their feet to stir up the dust. The Romans, half-blinded by the...

Perhaps the greatest defeat the Roman Republic ever suffered was at the hands of Hannibal at the Battle of Cannae in 216 BC.

Livy estimates that some 50,000 Romans were slaughtered and nearly 20,000 captured. Hannibal lost fewer than 6,000 men.

It was a brilliant tactical victory for the Carthaginian general. The sun and wind were at his back. He had deployed his men in a convex semicircle with his weakest troops in front. When the armies assembled for battle, Hannibal ordered his men to shuffle their feet to stir up the dust. The Romans, half-blinded by the dust and the sun, plunged headlong against the protruding bulge of Hannibal’s line, easily pushing it in upon itself.

Yet too late did they realize that only the tip of Hannibal’s line was falling back. The left and right flanks remained where they were. Before long, the Romans were beset from three sides. Then the Carthaginian cavalry appeared from beyond the flanks. The Romans were surrounded and pressed tightly together. Hannibal cut them down where they stood. Only about 14,000 of 86,000 escaped.

After the victory, Hannibal’s generals urged him to march on Rome, though the great general said he wanted to think about it. At this, Maharbal, commander of that Numidian cavalry, bitterly observed that it was clear that the gods do not give everything to the same man. “Vincere scis, Hannibal,” he said, “victoria uti nescis”: “You know how to conquer, Hannibal, but you do not know how to use your victory.”

I am writing toward the end of October, so we don’t yet know what the results of the November midterms will be. And yet we do. It will be — for you reading this, it was — the greatest Republican wave in decades. Did Lee Zeldin win against Kathy Hochul for the governorship in New York? I don’t know. But he could. Obviously Dr. Oz is going to win in Pennsylvania against the sad and mentally incompetent John Fetterman. I think Tudor Dixon is likely to win against Gretchen “Cruella de Vil” Whitmer in Michigan.

Republicans won’t win every race. But all across the fruited plain, the signs are flashing. The Democratic assault on fiscal sanity, the rule of law and bourgeois moral norms has been enveloped. A few of their soldiers will escape slaughter. But most, as at the Battle of Cannae, will be cut down.

The question now is, will the Republicans capitalize effectively on their victory and lead the country back to prosperity, energy independence, and security? Or will they fritter their great victory away as Hannibal did after Cannae?

If the past is any guide, we should gird ourselves for disappointment. The usual pattern is that the Democrats mess up the country, then the Republicans are elected to rescue it. This they begin to do, but tepidly. Before long the Democrats, aided by the mainstream media, recapture the narrative. Is there any way, short of war or economic collapse, that Republicans can get off this merry-go-round?

Yes, but they would have to march on Rome. That is, they would have to be willing to take on the corrupt, malodorous bureaucracy that some years ago substituted for the United States government.

In order to succeed, they would need to go on the offensive. Some things I’d like to see: Sullivan v. The New York Times should be repealed so that partisan media organizations like the Times can be more easily sued for defamation when they deliberately lie about their ideological opponents. The Republicans should continue the January 6 Committee, but with Jim Jordan in the chair. Everybody involved in running the kangaroo court presided over by Loopy Liz Cheney should be subpoenaed.

The FBI should be taken apart altogether. There are other ways of dealing with the mafia and other baddies. The FBI has behaved in a lawless and appalling way — and should be replaced by another, less politically tainted police force.

The budgets for the Department of Education should be zeroed out, a prelude to dispensing with that malevolent agency. Ditto the Department of Homeland Security.

Don’t forget about the impeachments. Joe Biden should be impeached for serially lying to the American public. No, he won’t be removed, not only because Republicans will probably not have the votes but because, should Kamala Harris still be in office, removing Biden would lead to the installation of someone even worse. Merrick Garland and Christopher Wray should also be impeached for their conspicuous role in transforming the Department of Justice and FBI into partisan enforcers for the Democratic Party. Unlike Biden, whose impeachment would be meant merely to hamper and besmirch, those clowns should be removed and, if possible, prosecuted.

Will there be howls from the left? You betcha. But Republicans, if they are really going to make use of their victory, should regard the volume and hysteria of the complaints as an indication of their success.

The left under Joe Biden declared war on America. Only by responding in kind can Republicans hope to transform their victory in the election into a victory for the country. They must march on Rome, besiege it and replace the rotting institutions that have grown up like chokeweed throughout the Swamp.

This article was originally published in The Spectator’s December 2022 World edition.