The Return of Andrew Jackson

 

If you want to get a proper sense of the significance of what happened yesterday, just look at the vote in Washington DC. In our nation’s capital, according to Real Clear Politics, Hillary Clinton won 92.8% of the vote and Donald Trump, 4.1%. Sure, DC is a heavily African-American city, and black Americans are loyal Democratic voters. But there are plenty of non-black Americans in the town, and they now form a majority. What this means is that our political class and their minions were united against the man — and this was, in fact, the stance of our business elite as well. None of the CEOs of the top 100 corporations gave his campaign a dime, and no major newspaper endorsed the man.

I can remember back in 1980 when Ronald Reagan came to DC. His arrival and the formation of a new administration was like the arrival in a country of a foreign army. The Donald’s takeover will be an even more dramatic event. It will be as if William Jennings Bryan had won in 1896. The only analogue that I can think of is the inauguration of Andrew Jackson. But he had already had a long career in public life — most notably, as the general victorious at the Battle of New Orleans and as a United States Senator. Trump has no such pedigree — though, like Jackson, he is a hero to the excluded.

When I wrote a blog post entitled Likelihoods on the eve of the election, I echoed the common wisdom, pointing to Mrs. Clinton’s lead in the polls, but I also noted the IBD/TIPP polls — the most accurate in 2012 — which had her up 1% in a two-way race and Trump up 2% in a four-way race, and I pointed to a number of intangibles — some favoring her, and one, having to do with “shame,” possibly favoring him: “Ronald Reagan, throughout his career, outperformed the polls by ca. 5%. There were lots of people who would not admit that they supported him who nonetheless voted for him in the end.”

It was this last imponderable that decided the election. Here, in Michigan, Barack Obama beat John McCain by 16% in 2008, and he beat native Michigander Mitt Romney by 9% in 2012. This year, if The Detroit News can be trusted, Trump won a plurality, beating out Clinton by 13,255 votes (.3% of the total). There was, as everyone expected, a drop-off in the African-American vote, but there was also a dramatic shift, like that of the so-called Reagan Democrats in 1980, on the part of working stiffs all over the state. Something similar happened in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Although Trump may be wealthier than Romney, there is a warmth to the man and a down-to-earth quality that his predecessor lacked. Trump reminded these people of the folks with whom they worked. Romney reminded them of the snob in the central office who has no sympathy for their concerns. Although technically not a WASP, he exemplified the emotional reticence for which that tribe is infamous. It is a shame because Romney is a thoroughly decent man and would have been a good president.

Some good will almost certainly come out of this election. It does not matter whether Rudy Giuliani or Chris Christie is made Attorney General. There will be a move to clean up that cesspool of irresponsible partisanship. I am confident that there will also be a purge at the Internal Revenue Service and that whoever takes over the State Department will see to the elimination of those who averted their gaze while Hillary Clinton broke the law.

Under Barack Obama, the federal appeals courts have become partisan tools — denying states the right to outlaw party-line voting and to require that voters present photo IDs. Under Donald Trump, I am confident that the courts will be reined in and that a great deal will be done to restore the rule of law. The integrity of the voting process should now be made a major concern.

I am hopeful also that whoever is appointed Secretary of Education will see to it that the practice of running kangaroo courts on our campuses, pressed on our colleges and universities by the Obama administration, will be brought to an end. Rape charges should be referred to the civil authorities, and those accused of lesser forms of sexual misconduct should receive fair hearings and be given due process.

In other spheres, Trump is apt to be a wild card. If he really is an anti-free trade zealot, he will do us some harm — though I suspect that Congress will get in the way if he is intent on abrogating existing agreements. The Chamber of Commerce has not lost its leverage on the Republicans in Congress.

On immigration, all that Trump really has to do is to enforce the existing laws, to beef up the border patrol, and to put pressure on Mexico to stop aiding and abetting the subversion of its neighbor. In effect, that country has been at war with us for some time, and we have the means for making things exceedingly uncomfortable for Mexico. They accept no illegal immigrants, and it is in their power to block transit.

The one area where I think there are real grounds for fear is foreign policy. Trump knows next to nothing about that field, and he is — to say the least — historically ill-informed. The isolationism of the post-World War I period was purchased at a terrible cost, and a turn away from our alliance system now would only strengthen those who would like to see to our decline. Thanks to the deliberate negligence of Barack Obama, the NATO alliance is unraveling, and our system of alliances in the Pacific is similarly coming apart — as the Russians and Chinese become ever more belligerent. If Trump picks John Bolton as Secretary of State, he will put us on the right path. If he picks Newt Gingrich or Bob Corker, as some suppose he may, I do not know where we will end up.

In general, if the speculation linked above is at all correct, Trump seems inclined to hand out posts to loyal supporters. If that is the principle criterion, his administration is almost certain to flounder. People unfamiliar with the Washington bureaucracies often fall captive to the civil servants on their staffs. Ronald Reagan arrived in Washington with a cadre of experienced people who thought as he did. Donald Trump is a far less thoughtful man, and his buddies may turn out to be cut from the same cloth. If one wants to get things done in a city profoundly hostile to one’s Presidency, one will need a troop of like-minded subordinates intent on reorienting the government.

There are 31 comments.

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  1. Theodoric of Freiberg Member
    Theodoric of Freiberg
    @TheodoricofFreiberg

    Excellent post.

    • #1
  2. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Well put and where my thinking is. I really do not think all of trade is doomed. I am worried about how he interacts with the evil people around the world. I hope he understands how horrible a Putin is. Then again, Bush did not at first.

    • #2
  3. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    “One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson (attributed)

    • #3
  4. Bob W Member
    Bob W
    @WBob

    Regarding your statement on Mexico having the power to block transit of illegals from Mexico…

    No nation with western values should stand in the way of its own people leaving the country. To do so is to adopt the East German model. It is our responsibility, and ours alone, to enforce our borders. This is the one thing that has bothered me about Trump’s rhetoric on the issue: that somehow Mexico has responsibility here. To pay for the wall or whatever. It’s just not so, unless you think the Berlin Wall was the way countries should operate.

     

    • #4
  5. Richard Fulmer Inactive
    Richard Fulmer
    @RichardFulmer

    Andrew Jackson was among our very best and our very worst Presidents.  He did a lot to clean up corruption in the nation’s capitol.  But he also presided over some of our nation’s most shameful acts, such as the forced relocation of Native Americans – the most notorious of which is known as the Trail of Tears.

    • #5
  6. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    Bob W:Regarding your statement on Mexico having the power to block transit of illegals from Mexico…

    No nation with western values should stand in the way of its own people leaving the country. To do so is to adopt the East German model. It is our responsibility, and ours alone, to enforce our borders. This is the one thing that has bothered me about Trump’s rhetoric on the issue: that somehow Mexico has responsibility here. To pay for the wall or whatever. It’s just not so, unless you think the Berlin Wall was the way countries should operate.

    Every civilized country controls exit from its borders. It is a reasonable expectation that they do so as well . . . if they want our cooperation in other regards.

    • #6
  7. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    Richard Fulmer:Andrew Jackson was among our very best and our very worst Presidents. He did a lot to clean up corruption in the nation’s capitol. But he also presided over some of our nation’s most shameful acts, such as the forced relocation of Native Americans – the most notorious of which is known as the Trail of Tears.

    Indeed.

    • #7
  8. Bob W Member
    Bob W
    @WBob

    Paul A. Rahe:

    Bob W:Regarding your statement on Mexico having the power to block transit of illegals from Mexico…

    No nation with western values should stand in the way of its own people leaving the country. To do so is to adopt the East German model. It is our responsibility, and ours alone, to enforce our borders. This is the one thing that has bothered me about Trump’s rhetoric on the issue: that somehow Mexico has responsibility here. To pay for the wall or whatever. It’s just not so, unless you think the Berlin Wall was the way countries should operate.

    Every civilized country controls exit from its borders. It is a reasonable expectation that they do so as well . . . if they want our cooperation in other regards.

    In what way would America prevent someone from leaving? From going into Canada or Mexico? I would expect to be challenged by Canadians or Mexicans,  not American border guards. But, admittedly I’ve never done it.

    • #8
  9. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    Bob W:

    Paul A. Rahe:

    Bob W:Regarding your statement on Mexico having the power to block transit of illegals from Mexico…

    No nation with western values should stand in the way of its own people leaving the country. To do so is to adopt the East German model. It is our responsibility, and ours alone, to enforce our borders. This is the one thing that has bothered me about Trump’s rhetoric on the issue: that somehow Mexico has responsibility here. To pay for the wall or whatever. It’s just not so, unless you think the Berlin Wall was the way countries should operate.

    Every civilized country controls exit from its borders. It is a reasonable expectation that they do so as well . . . if they want our cooperation in other regards.

    In what way would America prevent someone from leaving? From going into Canada or Mexico? I would expect to be challenged by Canadians or Mexicans, not American border guards. But, admittedly I’ve never done it.

    Try flying to a country requiring a visa without the visa in hand. You will not be allowed on the plane.

    In any case, we are not talking about Mexicans trying to get into the US. The current inflow is largely from Central America, and they transit through Mexico. The Mexicans let them in on the understanding that they are going to descend on us.

    What is going on is an invasion — which is an act of war. To allow one’s population to invade another country or to allow the population of a third country to use one’s territory for such an invasion is an act of war.

    • #9
  10. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    It’s also worth noting how much money earned illegally here is sent back to Mexico. Mexican officials aren’t facilitating defiance of our immigration laws just for laughs.

    • #10
  11. Pugshot Member
    Pugshot
    @Pugshot

    @paularahe

    Some good will almost certainly come out of this election. It does not matter whether Rudy Giuliani or Chris Christie is made Attorney General. There will be a move to clean up that cesspool of irresponsible partisanship. I am confident that there will also be a purge at the Internal Revenue Service and that whoever takes over the State Department will see to the elimination of those who averted their gaze while Hillary Clinton to broke the law.

    With respect to this in particular, please see something I posted earlier today on the Members’ Feed:

    http://ricochet.com/388147/trumps-to-do-list/

     

    • #11
  12. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Paul A. Rahe: The one area where I think there are real grounds for fear is foreign policy. Trump knows next to nothing about that field, and he is — to say the least — historically ill-informed. The isolationism of the post-World War I period was purchased at a terrible cost, and a turn away from our alliance system now would only strengthen those who would like to see to our decline.

    That, more than Trump’s economic ignorance, was the significant hurdle to overcome in voting for him. He doesn’t seem to know much of the wider world, outside of perhaps which hotels to stay at and which restaurants to dine in. To borrow from a former Secretary of Defense (and the first chapter of every elementary textbook on information theory I have ever read), Trump faces a mountain range of unknown unknowns. I suspect that at least he understands that consigning adversaries to “the wrong side of history” is not a strategy. Good people will help him here, and I can’t think of any better than John Bolton.

    • #12
  13. Scott R Member
    Scott R
    @ScottR

    There’s talk that Reince Priebus might be chief of staff. That would be truly excellent. An adult with rapport with both the president and the Speaker, a great manager who somehow kept the party reasonably together through historically intense strains, and one who seems to legitimately be a calming influence on DJT.

    • #13
  14. JLocked Inactive
    JLocked
    @CrazyHorse

    Dr. Rahe has expressed undertones of concern that I will take the liberty to underline. Andrew Jackson is the closest approximation, but the parallels are perhaps perpendicular. Jackson was a war patriot, sustaining his first combat wounds at 13 in the Revolutionary War. He was a tactical mastermind, pulling off a masterful upset at New Orleans. And while the Trail of Tears is a horrific part of our History, Jackson lamented his duty as a necessary evil that was demanded by the populous. Jackson, however, was a principled family man with a deep abiding love for his deceased wife which created a rift with his VP Calhoun.

    The similarities are disconcerting. Jackson ushered in Democrat cronyism with his spoils system–leading to disastrous picks like bureaucratic apathetic Martin Van Buren, and irrevocably inept Roger Taney, who helped him disassemble the centralized Hamiltonian bank, bringing on the panic of 1837, leaving successor Van Buren rudderless in economic crisis, going on to render the Dred Scot case, which demolished the fragile Missouri Conpromise, the final bend which plunged us into civil war. Trump’s picks for Attorney General make me weak in the knees about our liberties. And while John Bolton would be a relief, something tells me Newt is getting the job, which would be a nightmare

    I am truly sorry for being negative of our new President, but I have to tell you to please watch his administration and pray he picks Bolton and doesn’t completely disassemble the Fed.

    • #14
  15. Al Sparks Thatcher
    Al Sparks
    @AlSparks

    Paul A. Rahe:Try flying to a country requiring a visa without the visa in hand. You will not be allowed on the plane.

    I don’t blame an airline for doing that, because they might be complicit in breaking the destination country’s laws by transporting a passenger who is definitely breaking that country’s laws by landing there without a visa.

    But I was questioned once by U.S. Border Patrol agents when driving from the U.S. to Canada (Washington State to British Columbia).  I don’t know why they had set up a checkpoint, but I was resentful of them questioning me (what my plans were in Canada) when leaving the U.S.. I would understand if they had a checkpoint to check for someone fleeing U.S. law enforcement.  But beyond checking to see if I was such a person, it’s none of their business what my business outside the country is until I come back into the U.S..

    I’ve crossed the border into Mexico or Canada maybe 10-15 times, and only encountered a U.S. exit checkpoint once.  But those Border Patrol agents acted very entitled to go beyond checking my identity.

     

    • #15
  16. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Bryan G. Stephens: I hope he understands how horrible a Putin is.

    I don’t think he has even an inkling. It’s painful to watch the champagne being uncorked in the Kremlin. They’re celebrating the way we did when the Berlin Wall came down.

    • #16
  17. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    @paularahe, I enjoyed your thoughtful essay and agree with much of what you say.

    I’m curious, though, why you chose the title you did, when in your essay you seem to conclude that the differences between the two president-elect’s previous lives are too stark for them to be good analogues.

    I see Jackson through my personal lens of history as possibly the worst human being to ever occupy the White House, so I find the title a bit off-putting.

    As a nit-picky grump, I also think that for your chosen title to even make sense, you should argue your analogy more strongly and better.

    • #17
  18. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    I don’t think he has even an inkling. It’s painful to watch the champagne being uncorked in the Kremlin. They’re celebrating the way we did when the Berlin Wall came down.

    Do you really think that Hillary Clinton would make a tougher and more respectable and believable president and commander-in-chief and be able to negotiate America’s positions well on the international stage?

    Strike that — I guess it’s pretty clear that you do.

    I believe you can relax a little and will find yourself over the next years being pleasantly surprised at how wrong your assessment of the Trump administration will be.

    • #18
  19. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad: I believe you can relax a little and will find yourself over the next years being pleasantly surprised at how wrong your assessment of the Trump administration will be

    I pray you’re right, Mama Toad.

    • #19
  20. Viator Inactive
    Viator
    @Viator

    https://mishgea.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/geographic-landslide1.png

    Geographically speaking, Trump won at least 80% of the Nation. The only states Hillary carried are Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

    Trump won every county in Oklahoma and West Virginia. Trump won all but one county in Wyoming, and Kansas. Trump won all but two counties in North Dakota, Kentucky, Tennessee, Utah, and Nebraska.

    Nearly the entire state of Minnesota, Illinois, New York, Oregon, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, Michigan, etc., went for Trump.

    https://mishtalk.com/2016/11/09/trumps-geographic-landslide/

    • #20
  21. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Bryan G. Stephens: I hope he understands how horrible a Putin is.

    I don’t think he has even an inkling. It’s painful to watch the champagne being uncorked in the Kremlin. They’re celebrating the way we did when the Berlin Wall came down.

    I do not think you have any evidence at all the Clinton would have been better. In fact, quite the contrary, based on that foolish restart button gag.

    • #21
  22. Chris Johnson Inactive
    Chris Johnson
    @user_83937

    For the record, I heard an interview with Newt, yesterday.  He expressed no interest in a Cabinet role, preferring something in the way of an advisory position with respect to the big picture for re-shaping the Executive Branch.  He expressed that the demands of a Secretary were too great to allow any time for anything beyond managing the department.

    • #22
  23. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    JLocked:Dr. Rahe has expressed undertones of concern that I will take the liberty to underline. Andrew Jackson is the closest approximation, but the parallels are perhaps perpendicular. Jackson was a war patriot, sustaining his first combat wounds at 13 in the Revolutionary War. He was a tactical mastermind, pulling off a masterful upset at New Orleans. And while the Trail of Tears is a horrific part of our History, Jackson lamented his duty as a necessary evil that was demanded by the populous. Jackson, however, was a principled family man with a deep abiding love for his deceased wife which created a rift with his VP Calhoun.

    The similarities are disconcerting. Jackson ushered in Democrat cronyism with his spoils system–leading to disastrous picks like bureaucratic apathetic Martin Van Buren, and irrevocably inept Roger Taney, who helped him disassemble the centralized Hamiltonian bank, bringing on the panic of 1837, leaving successor Van Buren rudderless in economic crisis, going on to render the Dred Scot case, which demolished the fragile Missouri Conpromise, the final bend which plunged us into civil war. Trump’s picks for Attorney General make me weak in the knees about our liberties. And while John Bolton would be a relief, something tells me Newt is getting the job, which would be a nightmare

    I am truly sorry for being negative of our new President, but I have to tell you to please watch his administration and pray he picks Bolton and doesn’t completely disassemble the Fed.

    Thank you.

    • #23
  24. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    Scott R:There’s talk that Reince Priebus might be chief of staff. That would be truly excellent. An adult with rapport with both the president and the Speaker, a great manager who somehow kept the party reasonably together through historically intense strains, and one who seems to legitimately be a calming influence on DJT.

    Yes.

    • #24
  25. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad:@paularahe, I enjoyed your thoughtful essay and agree with much of what you say.

    I’m curious, though, why you chose the title you did, when in your essay you seem to conclude that the differences between the two president-elect’s previous lives are too stark for them to be good analogues.

    I see Jackson through my personal lens of history as possibly the worst human being to ever occupy the White House, so I find the title a bit off-putting.

    As a nit-picky grump, I also think that for your chosen title to even make sense, you should argue your analogy more strongly and better.

    There were good things about Jackson. He was forthright in his defense of the union, for example.

    What I had in mind with the comparison is the attitude of the old elite towards the new President and his appeal to those who felt excluded. The analogy can, however, only go so far . . . as I tried to indicate.

    • #25
  26. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    JLocked: I am truly sorry for being negative of our new President, but I have to tell you to please watch his administration and pray he picks Bolton and doesn’t completely disassemble the Fed.

    I’m no great fan of Bolton and I don’t even remember why.  But he’d be better than any Obama/Clinton pick.

    I’m glad you said “completely” disassemble the Fed, because that seems to indicate you’d be OK with a partial disassembly.

    • #26
  27. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    The Reticulator: But he’d be better than any Obama/Clinton pick.

    I’m sorry you don’t have the visceral love of John Bolton and his ‘stach that I do… Here’s a brief part of his appearance on Fox yesterday.

    • #27
  28. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    He is ready to take names and kick it

    • #28
  29. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Paul A. Rahe:There were good things about Jackson. He was forthright in his defense of the union, for example.

     

    Tell it to the Seminole… One man’s “forthright” is anther man’s “slaveraider”…

    • #29
  30. JLocked Inactive
    JLocked
    @CrazyHorse

    The Reticulator:

    JLocked: I am truly sorry for being negative of our new President, but I have to tell you to please watch his administration and pray he picks Bolton and doesn’t completely disassemble the Fed.

    I’m no great fan of Bolton and I don’t even remember why. But he’d be better than any Obama/Clinton pick.

    I’m glad you said “completely” disassemble the Fed, because that seems to indicate you’d be OK with a partial disassembly.

    As a Libertarian, I understand the want to eradicate the Fed but those are means to the ends of a Confederacy instead of a Nation–something we can not turn become anymore. Impartiality in partisanship and divorced from public sentiment are behind the best economic prognostications, but even then, it can take a couple years to feel the benefits or losses.

    • #30

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