Posts tagged ‘Jackson’

03/16/2017

Presidents Jackson and Trump

by Jeff Brinckman

President Andrew Jackson, put on a militia uniform at age 13, during the American Revolution, and was quickly transformed into an angry young man, upon being captured by the British, and marched 40 miles to a wretched stockade, where his brother would die. He was then cut by a sword for refusing to polish an English officer’s boots. After a case of smallpox, he acquired a lifetime cough from TB, which would remind him from then on of abuses he would never forgive.

President Donald Trump, who has Jackson’s portrait in his office, also had his personality shaped as a teen. Although he avoided the army, despite being of draft age throughout the Vietnam War (1964-73), he was such an incorrigible behavioral problem by age 13, that his parents sent him to the NY Military Academy (1960-64), where he was drilled into an angry dictatorial type we see today. Trump has since looked up to Jackson as a role model, and has followed his playbook.

Jackson did not hide his violent personality. When he married Rachel in 1791, it turned out her divorce papers had not been completed, and she was still her first husband’s wife. After Jackson remarried her in 1794, she was subjected to name-calling. When Charles Dickinson used a choice word to describe her in 1806, Jackson took the law in his own hands, got a gun, challenged him to a duel, and killed him. Jackson would become President despite this well-known homicide.

Trump was also elected despite several well-publicized scandals involving women. His three marriages were to: 1) a Czech model (1977-90); 2) an actress (1993-99); and 3) yet another model (2005). During the campaign, when a political blogger speculated that an older man like Trump could not have married a gorgeous model 24 years his younger, unless she was a high-priced call-girl, Trump defended her honor, sued for libel, and settled recently on favorable terms.

As a candidate, Jackson was radically different from his predecessors. The first six Presidents were well-educated, diplomatic, and enlightened philosophers. Jackson on the other hand was unschooled, undignified, and tactless. He had just joined the Senate in 1823, and when he first ran for President in 1824, he lacked experience. His quick temper and violent propensities sharply distinguished him from the Founders. He was called hot-headed, unfit, and dangerous. He wasn’t taken seriously, as his only claim to fame was his military celebrity from the War of 1812.

Trump’s background also led to assertions he was unqualified, as he totally lacked any government experience, not even a political apprenticeship. During the 2016 campaign, he gained attention by insulting his Republican primary opponents and then Sen. Clinton. He was known basically for his TV celebrity, as he gained headlines with unsupported outlandish claims about the issues.

Jackson’s income came mostly from buying and selling land and from gambling, but instead of casinos, he bet on his own race horses. As a realtor, he knew the Native Americans west of the Appalachians held some of the best farm lands, and he resented it. Although the first six Presidents granted treaty rights to the Indians, Jackson advocated the deportation of all natives from the Appalachians to the Mississippi, and rural whites elected him on that platform in 1828.

Trump’s wealth likewise came primarily from land deals. As a real estate tycoon, he also profited from gambling casinos, multiple bankruptcy filings, a low-level university, and by fighting tax audits. Interestingly, as soon as Trump became President, he figuratively went to war against Native Americans in North Dakota, over a dispute between their treaty rights and an oil pipeline.

Despite a personal conflict of interest as a realtor, Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act (1830), which the Cherokees challenged in the Supreme Court, as contrary to treaty law that shielded them from deportation. Five Justices, appointed by the Founders, along with Jackson’s first nominee McLean, ruled (6-1) for the tribe in Worcester v Georgia (1832). But instead of enforcing the law, an outraged Jackson declared: “Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it!” As the Indians were pushed west across the Mississippi in IL and WI, the Black Hawk War (1832) broke out, and in the South, a Trail of Tears followed, as natives were marched on foot to Oklahoma.

Trump pursued a similar white racist campaign, as he pledged to deport millions of Hispanics, even though many had ancestors who occupied the Southwest long before the first Anglos arrived. He promoted a populist fiction that North America was originally all-white, as he waged a dog-whistle campaign promising to “make America great again.” Trump’s racism was not limited to Latinos, as he routinely suggested our first black President was not an American, despite Hawaiian newspaper baby announcements that clearly showed President Obama was born there in 1961.

Jackson’s real estate background led him to accuse the East Coast bankers of rigging the money supply to make it difficult for western farmers to obtain mortgages. Upon becoming President, he refused to re-charter the U.S. Bank, arguing it was unconstitutional, despite contrary Supreme Court rulings. When Jackson ordered the Treasury Dept. to withdraw all funds from the U.S. Bank and transfer them into State Banks, Secretaries McLane and Duane both refused, until Roger Taney finally carried out the deed, in an act that would earn him a Supreme Court seat.

As to the banks, although Trump promised to drain the financial swamp, he quickly got knee-deep in the muck by working with the Republicans and Wall Street bankers on a repeal of the Dodd-Frank Consumer Protection Law, which was designed to prevent another Great Recession.

Jackson resumed trade with the British West Indies (1830), made a treaty with Russia (1832), and negotiated the first trans-Pacific trade arrangement in Siam (1833). Despite his free trade policies, he also took a middle ground by enforcing tariffs. When Sen. Calhoun of South Carolina threatened secession over tariffs, Jackson responded: “If you secede from my nation, I will secede your head from the rest of your body.” Congress quickly gave Jackson a military force to collect tariffs.

Trump also made trade a centerpiece, as his anti-free trade pitch won the election for him in the industrial Midwest. As President, he quickly dumped the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We can soon expect some kind of a deal with Russia. Even if Trump abrogates NAFTA between Mexico, Canada and the U.S., all three nations agreed to the same free trade terms under in the World Trade Organization Treaty, so nothing much will change, and Trump will likely take a middle course.

As to the Supreme Court, in Jackson’s eight years, he nominated six Justices, most of whom negatively impacted jurisprudence. Taney, Wayne and Canton joined in the horrendous Dred Scot (1857) majority, where a (7-2) Court held Congress unconstitutionally infringed on slave owner property rights by banning slavery in the territories. Only one Jackson Justice, McLean, dissented.

Trump will also have a lasting imprint on the Court, as two liberals Ginsburg (83) and Breyer (78), and swing vote Kennedy (80), are already beyond normal life expectancies. In addition to his nomination of Gorsuch (49), if Thomas (68) resigns, Trump may send four more right-wingers to join Alito (65) and Roberts (61), leaving just two liberals, Sotomayor (62) and Kagan (56).

Jackson’s victory in 1828 triggered political party realignments. He didn’t destroy Thomas Jefferson’s “Democratic-Republican Party,” he merely hijacked it and renamed it the “Democratic Party.” A coalition of his opponents formed the Whig Party in 1832. Although the populist Jackson won again in 1832, as did his successor Van Buren in 1836, the Whigs finally took the White House in 1840 and 1848, and later merged with the new Republican Party in 1854.

Trump’s win in 2016 will also lead to party realignments. He didn’t destroy the Republican Party, he simply did a “hostile takeover” and now it’s his. It’s not the Republicans who need reinventing, for that already happened. The Democrats will now need to choose to put on a white face and talk about rural blue-collar economic concerns, or double down on urban social issues for blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, gays and women, and perhaps lose again, yes, to Trump. He may be re-elected, unless something unforeseen happens, like a depression, or a death in office.

Our first great depression was caused by Jackson’s tinkering with the money supply. When he ordered the acceptance of only gold or silver as payment for government obligations, his 1836 policy created gold shortages, triggered inflation, and raised interest rates. The depression that hit just as Jackson was leaving town in 1837, would be blamed on his successor Martin Van Buren. Only time will tell if Trump’s policies will trigger a depression.

As to death in office, Jackson’s closure of the U.S. Bank led to the first assassination attempt on a sitting President. Richard Lawrence, who thought he was King Richard III, and believed the U.S. government owed him money, blamed Jackson for not being paid. So, he took two shots at Jackson outside the Capitol in 1835, but since his gun misfired twice, Jackson was able to subdue Lawrence by using his cane to beat the living daylights out of him.

With modern Secret Service protections, it’s unlikely Trump will be shot, but since he’s over 70, the prospect of a natural death is not outside the realm of possibilities. If Trump survives, and chooses to run again in 2020, he’ll certainly follow Jackson’s playbook. If the Democrats are smart, they’ll take him seriously, and will begin right now studying how Jackson won his second term.

Tags: ,