President Trump gave a historic speech last week honoring President Andrew Jackson. True to current form, the media largely either missed or maligned it.
During his visit to the Hermitage, Jackson’s home and final resting place in Nashville, Tennessee, President Trump paid respects to his predecessor on Jackson’s 250th birthday. He was the first president to do so since Ronald Reagan in 1982. And in his speech President Trump said something I have been saying for nearly a year now: That Presidents Trump and Jackson have a tremendous amount in common.
First, President Trump earned the respect of the Americans who elected him largely by being an outsider and a disruptive force chosen to break up existing Washington power structures. He did this in the campaign by defeating long-time political power brokers in Republican circles. He disrupted the general election by defeating Hillary Clinton – much to the dismay of the establishment in Washington and the media. And he has been working from the White House to further disrupt entrenched special interests and the pervasive, entrenched Washington bureaucracy.
“It was during the Revolution that Jackson first confronted and defied an arrogant elite. Does that sound familiar to you?,” President Trump said, “I wonder why they keep talking about Trump and Jackson, Jackson and Trump. Oh, I know the feeling, Andrew.”
Second, both men are intensely American figures who focus nearly all their energy on wresting power away from the ruling class and returning it to normal Americans. This is expressed in both men’s populist messages and actions.
Finally, President Trump, like President Jackson, is heavily criticized by the elites of the day. Trump recognized this and expressed it clearly at the Hermitage.
“Andrew Jackson rejected authority that looked down on the common people. First as a boy, when he bravely served the Revolutionary cause. Next, as the heroic victor at New Orleans where his ragtag – and it was ragtag – militia … drove the British imperial forces from America in a triumphant end to the War of 1812. He was a real general, that one,” President Trump said.
“And, finally, as President – when he reclaimed the people’s government from an emerging aristocracy. Jackson’s victory shook the establishment like an earthquake. Henry Clay, Secretary of State for the defeated President John Quincy Adams, called Jackson’s victory ‘mortifying and sickening’. Oh, boy, does this sound familiar. Have we heard this? This is terrible. He said there had been ‘no greater calamity’ in the nation’s history.”
President Trump’s speech placed the movement that elected him into the context of American history. Over the nearly 250 years that our Republic has grown and changed, the American people have periodically rejected what they sensed as “an emerging aristocracy” and felt the need to elect someone like Trump or Jackson who can shake “the establishment like an earthquake.” You see this in the American Revolution, the Jacksonian Revolution, and now the Trumpian Revolution.
The speech, and President Trump’s visit, also helped frame the events of the past week. In the context of Jackson, President Trump’s America First budget makes perfect sense. His budget supports the priorities and interests of the American people – not those of unelected bureaucrats.
In Detroit, President Trump pledged a “new economic model” for manufacturers that calls for fewer regulations and lower taxes, so more Americans can find jobs to support their families.
Finally, channeling Jackson is perfect for repealing and replacing Obamacare—which will return health care decisions back to the people, doctors, and states.
Naturally, Tennessee news outlets were virtually the only agencies to cover the event. And while national media largely ignored it, a few liberal columnists couldn’t help but criticize Trump for saluting Jackson, who has become persona non-grata among the elite, liberal intelligentsia – despite Trump acknowledging Jackson was “a flawed and imperfect man” and “a product of his time.”
But this is to be expected. One such columnist, Michael Gerson, pointed out another thing President Jackson had in common with President Trump:
“His opponents regarded his presidency as unimaginable, until he beat them,” Gerson wrote.
As his administration continues to grow and change, I suspect President Trump will continue to be a disruptive force in Washington on behalf of normal Americans. And his presidency will be every bit as historic as President Jackson’s.