Sunday, February 18, 2018

Andrew Jackson and Donald Trump

The animus towards President Trump mirrors that directed at President Andrew Jackson almost two centuries ago. Our 7th President was viewed as a boob and hayseed. Presidents Washington, Adams and John Quincy Adams were from Massachusetts while Presidents Jefferson, Madison and Monroe hailed from Virginia. All six were “educated” by the standards of the time. President Jackson to them was the uneducated barbarian from Tennessee, the frontier of America. Yet, he was a lawyer and had served in Congress. His claim to the White House was based on defeating the British at the Battle of New Orleans. He did something Napoleon could never do – defeat Wellington’s regulars. The Duke of Wellington did not lead the British army at New Orleans, but they were his soldiers. General Jackson secured the future of the American Republic at New Orleans. None of the combatants knew at the time that the United Kingdom and the United States had earlier reached a peace treaty in the Treaty of Ghent. The British probably would have ignored it had they captured New Orleans, closing off much of the West to the United States. Andrew Jackson campaigned by attacking the Bank of the United States, beloved by the eastern establishment of the time. President Jackson opened the doors of the White House and let the people, his people, in after his inauguration. In short he opened the White House to the “deplorables” of those days. He opened America’s democracy to white males, a substantial increase from the 5% property owning white males at the creation of the country. Universal suffrage was still to come, but he started the progression. The Jackson Democrats became the worker backbone of the Democratic Party. Andrew Jackson found a way to connect with the people by enlisting reporters and editors to convey his message. He also demonized his opponents. He won the most votes in 1924, but no one won a majority of the electoral votes. Congress then elected John Quincy Adams as President. Andrew Jackson ranted about the “rigged” system. President Jackson was also attacked as an immoral adulterer. He was deeply in love with Rachel Robards, but it is unclear if she was divorced when she married the future President The fiery Jackson was also the only President to have killed a man in a duel (prior to the Presidency). Of course, there’s major differences, but doesn’t the story of Andrew Jackson presage that of Donald Trump? Immorality, adultery, fiery temper, rigged elections, deplorable voters, outsider crashing the party, trashing the establishment, demonizing opponents, messaging his supporters, and attacking the economic orthodoxy of the times. President Trump is as reviled by today’s Washington establishment as was President Jackson.

No comments: