Donald Trump, As ‘Andrew Jackson, Revenant’


The populist upsurges in the GOP is evidence that traditional American culture is fighting back against the left-wing and right-wing elitist establishments, says a new article in The American Interest, by Walter Russell Mead, titled “Andrew Jackson, Revenant.”

That’s a play on the new movie, Revenant, about a man who returns from the dead.

Not since he fought with Nicholas Biddle over the future of the Bank of the United States [in the 1830s] has [President] 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…

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.Jacksonian America is many things; well organized isn’t one of them.

Jacksonians are found in both political parties; most are habitually indifferent to national politics, seeing all politicians as equally corrupt, equally useless. Other than the NRA, there are not many national organizations organized around the promotion of a Jacksonian agenda. In the world of think tanks and elite media, the Jacksonian voice is seldom heard and never heeded.It is hard for Jacksonians to mobilize politically.

Neither party really embraces a Jacksonian agenda. Combining a suspicion of Wall Street, a hatred of the cultural left, a love of middle class entitlement programs, and a fear of free trade, Jacksonian America has problems with both Republican and Democratic agendas…

What we are seeing in American politics today is a Jacksonian surge. It is not yet a revolution on the scale of Old Hickory’s movement that transformed American politics for a generation… Donald Trump, for now, is serving as a kind of blank screen on which Jacksonians project their hopes…

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.

Read it all here.