Category Archive 'Andrew Jackson'

03 May 2017

Trump’s Presidency Is Reviving Jacksonianism

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The Democrat Party today is Progressive meaning Statist and Elitist rather than Populist. No wonder its traditional Jefferson-Jackson Dinners, honoring that party’s founders, are being cancelled all over the country. For democrats, there is an imaginary Jefferson, a slave-holding ogre who raped Sally Hemmings. And, for democrats, there is an odious Indian-killing, slave-owning Andrew Jackson.

Jackson today belongs to the Republican Party which has elected an authentic populist president, one specifically eager to take up the legacy of Old Hickory and enforce it.

Robert W, Merry, in American Conservative, has a nice tribute to Jackson making clear his extreme pertinence to today.

Andrew Jackson helped shape a political philosophy that has rippled through the American political firmament for nearly 200 years. Call it conservative populism—an aversion to bigness in all of its forms, including big government, and a faith in the capacity of ordinary folks to understand and to act upon their own interests. Conservative populism includes a natural aversion to entrenched elites, who always fight back against conservative populists whenever they challenge elite power. Republicans of today who tout the leadership of the last great GOP president, Ronald Reagan, should know they are touting the 20th century’s greatest exponent of Jackson-style populist politics.

And when today’s Americans lament the rise of “crony capitalism,” it’s worth noting that their complaint has a political lineage that goes back directly to Jackson, the country’s first great warrior against public policy allowing a favored few to cadge special emoluments from government. He despised any kind of cozy symbiosis between government and private enterprise, and if he could be pulled back into our own time he would look around with the famous scowl that always attended his displeasure and declare, “I told you so.” …

Jackson … harbored no impulse toward economic equality or societal leveling. His aim merely was to ensure that the levers of government were not used to bestow special beneficence upon a well-positioned few. “Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government,” he said. “Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth can not be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law.” Thus did Jackson declare that government should not interfere with any citizen’s pursuit of wealth and, further, that government had an affirmative obligation to protect the rich from the forces of envy bent on taking their wealth away. The general harbored no redistributionist sentiments.

This expression crystallizes the difference between conservative populism and the liberal version. Liberal populism sets itself against the rich and corporate America. It wishes to bring them down, largely through governmental leveling. In the 2016 presidential campaign, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders distilled the essence of liberal populism, stirring considerable excitement among many Democrats. But Jackson, by contrast, harbored no ill will toward society’s winners. He merely hated government action that favored the wealthy or gave favored citizens special paths to wealth. His message continued: “but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society—the farmers, mechanics, and laborers—who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government.”


24 Apr 2016

Replacing Andrew Jackson

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Old Hickory

Andrew Jackson was a hero. While still a boy and a prisoner of war captured by the British, he stubbornly refused to clean an enemy officer’s boots, suffering instead a retaliatory slash with a sabre, which left scars on his hand, face, and psyche which he bore all his life.

Orphaned at he age of 14, he educated himself, reading law while working at a saddle-maker’s shop. He taught school, practiced law, and his extraordinary abilities soon manifested themselves. He rose, even as a young man, quickly to every kind of leadership position in frontier Tennessee. in 1796, he became that new state’s first representative in Congress, and the next year was promoted to the Senate. He became commander of the state’s militia in 1801.

In 1814, he defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. And in January of 1815, he won perhaps the most astonishing and decisive American military victory of all-time at New Orleans. Outnumbered by more than two-to-one by veteran elite British officers and regulars fresh from the Peninsular War, where they had defeated the same French infantry which had conquered all of Europe, Jackson carefully deployed an extremely mixed force made up of American regulars; Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana militia; and even Baratarian pirates behind three hastily constructed lines of earthworks. Jackson successfully obliged the British to attack frontally, and arranged to take the advancing British under indirect fire before they were even within sight of his position. The results were astonishing. The British took more than 2000 casualties. Both the Commanding General Pakenham and his second-in-command were mortally wounded. The American side had 62 casualties, and only 13 killed. Never elsewhere in history did such an apparently disadvantageous mismatch of forces deliver such a one-sided victory for the underdog.

Later, in national politics, Jackson led a libertarian, populist revolution, capturing the presidency, reining in Federal expansion in favor of individual and state’s rights, facing down nullification and secessionism, shutting down the second US Bank, and establishing a long 30 years of political dominance by his party, which ended only with the election of Lincoln, Civil War, and the armed conquest of the Southern states by the Federal government.

Barack Obama is proving himself once again the vengeful upstart of mixed race determined to punish white America by supplanting its heroes and symbols with black replacements and icons of the radical left.

Jackson is to be set aside in favor of Harriet Tubman, an unprofitable and unsaleable family servant from Maryland who preferred to decamp from her domestic chores to New York State, where she could instead give speeches, be fawned over, and live on the bounty of Northern radicals. Tubman was illiterate and the few factual details known of her life did not prevent the publication in recent decades of a whole series of hagiographic biographies intended to inflate her into a major national figure. It has been remarked, more than once, that school children today are likely to hear a lot more about Harriet Tubman than about George Washington.

The announcement that Tubman’s unattractive visage would be replacing General Jackson’s on the $20 was widely hailed by Quisling conservatives, eager to avoid becoming the objects of racial accusation, as a victory for private gun possession (apparently, when leading some of her relatives out of Maryland, Harriet Tubman carried a revolver which she used to threaten to execute on the spot any of her liberated beneficiaries who happened to try to change their minds about relocating to the North) and Republicanism, carefully overlooking the obvious fact that the Republican Party of the 1850s was the party of radicalism, statism, and leftism, precisely what the Democrat Party is today; while today’s Republican Party is the party of limited government, of individual and states’ rights, of strict constructionism, in fact, the true heir to the philosophy of Andrew Jackson.

Nobody in the Conservative Movement is defending President Jackson these days, except for Pat Buchanan and, deep, deep in the fever swamp, Alexander Hart at Peter Brimelow’s VDare.

19 Jan 2016

Jacksonian Times

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Old Hickory

Walter Russell Mead warns that a spectre is haunting the election of 2016, the spectre is that of no less than Andrew By God! Jackson, and the Locofocos are again challenging the rule of the Bank and the Urban Elites.

Not since he fought with Nicholas Biddle over the future of the Bank of the United States has Andrew Jackson been this controversial or this central in American political life. Jacksonian populism, the sense of honor-driven egalitarianism and fiery nationalism that drove American politics for many years, has never been hated and reviled as often as it is today, and many American academics and intellectuals (to say nothing of Hollywood icons) are close to demanding that Jacksonian sentiment be redefined as a hate crime.

For President Barack Obama and his political allies in particular, Jacksonian America is the father of all evils. Jacksonians are who the then Senator had in mind when, in the campaign of 2008, he spoke of the ‘bitter clingers’ holding on to their guns and their Bibles. They are the source of the foreign policy instincts he most deplores, supporting Israel almost reflexively, demanding overwhelming response to terror attacks, agitating for tight immigration controls, resisting diplomacy with Iran and North Korea, supporting Guantanamo, cynical about the UN, skeptical of climate change, and willing to use ‘enhanced interrogation’ against terrorists in arms against the United States. …

The hate and the disdain don’t spring from anything as trivial as pique. Historically, Jacksonian America has been the enemy of many of what President Obama, rightly, sees as some of America’s most important advances. …

Virtually everything about progressive politics today is about liquidating the Jacksonian influence in American life. From immigration policy, touted as ending the era when American whites were the population of the United States, to gun policy and to regulatory policy, President Obama and his coalition aim to crush what Jacksonians love, empower what they fear, and exalt what they hate. …

What we are seeing in American politics today is a Jacksonian surge. …

Donald Trump, for now, is serving as a kind of blank screen on which Jacksonians project their hopes. Proposing himself as a strong leader who ‘gets’ America but is above party, Trump appeals to Jacksonian ideas about leadership. Trump’s Jacksonian appeal has left the Republican Party in deep disarray, demonstrating the gulf between contemporary conservative ideology and Jacksonian nationalism. Indeed, one of the reasons that Trump hasn’t been hurt by attacks that highlight his lack of long term commitment to the boilerplate conservative agenda (either in the social or economic conservative variant) is that Jacksonian voters are less dogmatic and less conservative than some of their would-be political representatives care to acknowledge. …

Whatever happens to the Trump candidacy, it now seems clear that Jacksonian America is rousing itself to fight for its identity, its culture and its primacy in a country that it believes it should own. Its cultural values have been traduced, its economic interests disregarded, and its future as the center of gravity of American political life is under attack. Overseas, it sees traditional rivals like Russia, China, North Korea and Iran making headway against a President that it distrusts; more troubling still, in ISIS and jihadi terror it sees the rapid spread of a movement aiming at the mass murder of Americans. Jacksonian America has lost all confidence in the will or the ability of the political establishment to fight the threats it sees abroad and at home. It wants what it has always wanted: to take its future into its own hands.

The biggest story in American politics today is this: Andrew Jackson is mad as hell, and he’s not going to take it anymore.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Bird Dog.

23 Jul 2015

CT Dems Purge Jefferson & Jackson

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It was widely predicted that historical purging would proceed farther when recently a nation-wide campaign of execration broke out targeting the Confederate flag.

The Connecticut Post confirms the accuracy of those predictions, reporting that:

Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson are history in Connecticut.

Under pressure from the NAACP, the state Democratic Party will scrub the names of the two presidents from its annual fundraising dinner because of their ties to slavery.

Party leaders voted unanimously Wednesday night in Hartford to rename the Jefferson Jackson Bailey dinner in the aftermath of last month’s fatal shooting of nine worshipers at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C.

The decision is believed to be unprecedented and could prompt Democrats in other states with similarly named events to follow suit.

“I see it as the right thing to do,” Nick Balletto, the party’s first-year chairman, told Hearst Connecticut Media on Wednesday night.

“I wasn’t looking to be a trailblazer or set off a trend that’s going to affect the rest of the country. Hopefully, they’ll follow suit when they see it’s the right thing to do.”

Democrat Party annual dinners nationally have long been named the Jefferson and Jackson Dinner, since Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson are, historically speaking, indisputably the two greatest presidents and the two greatest American leaders associated with that political party. Unless, of course, you are a contemporary subscriber to the Marxist “critical studies” approach to history. In which case, you recognize the democrat party’s notoriously libertarian early icons stood for essentially everything you are against: particularly limited government and individual and states’ rights. Worse yet, both were Southerners and thus slave owners. And General Jackson was notoriously unsympathetic to Native American Rights, defeating the Creek Indians in war and deporting the Cherokee to a designated Indian Territory which would one day become Oklahoma.

What do you do, if you are a radical left-wing democrat obliged to face the reality that your party’s two greatest leaders were ultra-libertarians with little to no commitment to equality-at-any-cost? Obviously, you vote that history out of existence.

24 Nov 2014

The Jacksonian Tradition

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At Richochet, Sabrdance views the American political future in the light of the Jacksonian Tradition. He even manages to place Abraham Lincoln (perhaps the ultimate anti-Jacksonian) directly in the Jacksonian Tradition (!).

In this week’s G-File, Jonah Goldberg elaborates on his Special Report rant that there is a populist revolt brewing in response to the misbehavior of the government, specifically, the revelations regarding Jonathan Gruber. Jacksonians expect government to be corrupt, but they require that it not be perverse; it may line its pockets, but it may not harm the people to do so. If it does, Meade is sanguine: the Jacksonians will revolt and elect a hero, as they did previously with Jackson himself, both Roosevelts, and Ronald Reagan.

I am less sure. The Jacksonian response to corruption has historically been to withdraw, first to the frontier, then into their churches and towns. Their antagonists follow until their train of insults culminates in harm, at which point the Jacksonians become bloodyminded. Meade skips over it in his discussion of Jacksonian heroes, but Lincoln can also be seen as of that mold, elected to punish the Southern states for insulting their Northern brethren by forcing the Fugitive Slave Act on them, violating both the Missouri Compromise and the Compromise of 1850, as well as the implicit the agreement of the Founding to contain slavery and allow it to die (all brought about by the Louisiana Purchase, itself a dubiously legal executive act).

Jacksonians are honorable people. They will put up with much, and will withdraw into their enclaves rather than get sucked into a vendetta. Executive encroachments, legislative flimflam, judicial arrogance… the Jacksonians won’t respond to any of it. Until they do.

Their predecessors in England launched both the English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution.

I do not want to repeat that experience.

Read the whole thing.

18 Oct 2013

Jacksonian America Revolting Against a New Elite

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William Galston
, in the Wall Street Journal, sees the recent shutdown struggle as evidence of a crucial internal struggle for the soul of the Republican Party.

More than a decade ago, before the post-9/11 national fervor set in, Walter Russell Mead published an insightful essay on the persistent “Jacksonian tradition” in American society. Jacksonians, he argued, embrace a distinctive code, whose key tenets include self-reliance, individualism, loyalty and courage.

Jacksonians care as passionately about the Second Amendment as Jeffersonians do about the First. They are suspicious of federal power, skeptical about do-gooding at home and abroad; they oppose federal taxes but favor benefits such as Social Security and Medicare that they regard as earned. Jacksonians are anti-elitist; they believe that the political and moral instincts of ordinary people are usually wiser than those of the experts and that, as Mr. Mead wrote, “while problems are complicated, solutions are simple.”

That is why the Jacksonian hero defies the experts and entrenched elites and “dares to say what the people feel” without caring in the least what the liberal media will say about him. (Think Ted Cruz. )

The tea party is Jacksonian America, aroused, angry and above all fearful, in full revolt against a new elite—backed by the new American demography—that threatens its interests and scorns its values. …

Supporters of the tea party… see President Obama as anti-Christian, and the president’s expansive use of executive authority evokes charges of “tyranny.” Mr. Obama, they believe, is pursuing a conscious strategy of building political support by increasing Americans’ dependence on government. A vast expansion of food stamps and disability programs and the push for immigration reform are key steps down that road.

But ObamaCare is the tipping point, the tea party believes. Unless the law is defunded, the land of limited government, individual liberty and personal responsibility will be gone forever, and the new America, dominated by dependent minorities who assert their “rights” without accepting their responsibilities, will have no place for people like them.

For the tea party, ObamaCare is much more than a policy dispute; it is an existential struggle. …

Many tea-party supporters are small businessmen who see taxes and regulations as direct threats to their livelihood. Unlike establishment Republicans who see potential gains from government programs such as infrastructure funding, these tea partiers regard most government spending as a deadweight loss. Because many of them run low-wage businesses on narrow margins, they believe that they have no choice but to fight measures, such as ObamaCare, that reduce their flexibility and raise their costs—measures to which large corporations with deeper pockets can adjust.

It’s no coincidence that the strengthening influence of the tea party is driving a wedge between corporate America and the Republican Party. It’s hard to see how the U.S. can govern itself unless corporate America pushes the Republican establishment to fight back against the tea party—or switches sides.

01 Sep 2012

Weekend History Quiz: Who Wins the Mass Presidential Knife Fight?

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More interesting than any mere ordinary presidential campaign is Geoff Micks‘s theoretical question:

In a mass knife fight to the death between every American President, who would win and why?

Micks gives each president a lousy mass-produced, tactical-styled Gerber LRH. I think it would be more considerate to give them something a little better. My choice is the Randall Number 1 — All Purpose Fighting Knife. Each president can select his preferred blade length from 5 to 8″.

I don’t think Micks is far off on his analysis of the odds.

I think, though, that George Washington may have a better chance than Micks supposes. Washington was a large, powerful, and physically graceful man, and he was notoriously aggressive by temperament. After all, as a young lieutenant, George Washington essentially singlehandedly started the French and Indian War.

Teddy Roosevelt was game, and I think he would have made a spirited effort, hurrying into the fight, but let’s face it, Teddy was a four-eyed rich boy who went to Harvard. He was fine at shooting lions and bears, but it’s not certain that TR ever actually killed anybody.

The obvious truth is, in the history of the American presidency, only one stone cold killer has ever occupied the Oval Office. The number of duels fought by Andrew “By God” Jackson varies in different accounts. Some authorities claim he fought 13 times. There is no doubt at all, though, that Andrew Jackson, after first taking a bullet, shot Charles Dickinson dead in 1806, observing afterwards that “If he had shot me through the brain, I would still have killed him.”

Andrew Jackson survived the first assassination attempt on an American president, and actually subdued and arrested his own assailant. Some accounts say that Jackson produced a pair of pistols out of his pockets. Others claim that Jackson beat the would-be assassin into unconsciousness with his cane.

On his death bed, Jackson reportedly remarked: “I have only two regrets: I didn’t shoot Henry Clay and I didn’t hang John C. Calhoun.”

It seems to me that with respect to readiness to fight, competence, and iron resolution, not even Washington could hope to compete with Old Hickory.

Andrew Jackson

Hat tip to Troy Senik.

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