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Hullabaloo


Friday, March 17, 2017

 
It's never just the economic populism is it?

by digby



















Adele Stan has a great piece over at The American Prospect about Trump's new hero, Andrew Jackson. Here's an excerpt:

Historians often give Jackson something of a pass for being a slaveholder; he was a man of his times, they say, simply following in the footsteps of most of the presidents who came before him. But unlike his predecessors, Jackson never deigned to express guilt about it, according to Jackson biographer H.W. Brands. The seventh president, Brands writes in The Tennessean, “never admitted feeling guilty about anything.” Sound familiar?

Speaking to Ari Rabin-Havt in 2014, historian Harry Watson, professor of Southern culture at the University of North Carolina and author of Liberty and Power: The Politics of Jacksonian America, said that Jackson always insisted that he didn’t hate the Indians; “he just felt the presence of Indians on land that ought to be white people’s was a barrier to the development of the white country.”

“By securing all this extra land from the Indians,” Watson told Rabin-Havt, Jackson “could make it available to white yeoman farmers and that was a way to protect their interests.”

Jackson is regarded as the first populist president; his purported connection to the ordinary people from which he sprang is the stuff of legend. Hailed as an economic populist for having opposed the creation of a centralized bank, it wasn’t quite that simple, according to New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait, who notes that Jackson’s “opposition to a National Bank served the interests of the local banks that competed against it”—local banks that backed Jackson and his friends, who also reaped rewards from the Indian removal policy. Relating a point from Steve Inskeep’s book, Jacksonland, Chait wrote in 2016 that “Jackson and his cronies personally grew rich from the policy of land expropriation that formed the core of his agenda.”

Trump’s affection for Jackson, of whom he keeps a portrait in the Oval Office, apparently did not spring from his own appreciation of history but rather that of his strategist and consigliere, Stephen K. Bannon, the former chief executive of Breitbart News and a guy whose view of history seems to be telling him that it’s time for a violent, cataclysmic shift in American politics and policy—and one likely to serve the interests of Trump and his billionaire cronies.

Read the whole thing. This is right wing populism. And it's very potent because it pits middle and lower class whites against people they already look down upon. Left wing populism is a heavier lift because white people in America see themselves as members of the same tribe as rich white people. Their resentment and fear of the wealthy doesn't run nearly as deep. They want to identify with them  --- foreigners and people of color not so much. The class identification gets subsumed by the nationalist/racial identification.

More on Trump's newfound Jackson worship in this piece at the Daily Beast.


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