The New Jacksonian Rebellion (and Trump, too)
Schadenfreude, I must confess. Yes, I’m deriving pleasure from the GOP establishment’s pain. Trump’s the thorn in the RINO side; the wound festers, and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch.
Perverse pleasure aside, though, there’s something bigger happening than Trump among Americans and on the right. It’s positively Jacksonian.
The Trump phenomenon isn’t a quirk, a passing shadow – though, perhaps, The Donald is. What ‘16 is, and what Trump personifies, is the next stage in the liberty rebellion that commenced in ’09 with the tea parties. Indeed, the much maligned Tea Party movement is morphing. It’s taking on a populist tinge. It’s more brazen – dare say, strident – in that a celeb – The Donald – has stepped forward to voice what grassroots conservatives and growing numbers of Americans think about political correctness and the leftist policies that are wrecking the nation. Trump entertains, but in fact, his campaign is resonating because the messaging resonates. Trump is leading an advance deeper into the American electorate.
What’s going on here in the early stages of the ‘16 presidential sweepstakes is the next chapter in the burgeoning grassroots rebellion against big government, statist aggression, and the elitist privilege and sense, a sense that is more radicalized than ever… that seeks to tyrannize faith, culture, and society.
The rebellion resembles the rise of Jacksonian Democracy back in the 1820s. No, it’s not an exact repeat; nothing ever is in history. But the spirit and contours are similar.
Let’s refresh ourselves as to what Jacksonian Democracy was about. This from Conservapedia:
Broadly, Jacksonian democracy, in contrast to the Jeffersonian era, promoted the strength of the executive branch and the presidency at the expense of Congressional power, while also seeking to broaden the public's participation in government. Jacksonians believed in enfranchising all white men, rather than just the propertied class, and supported the patronage system that enabled politicians to appoint their supporters into administrative offices, arguing it would reduce the power of elites and prevent aristocracies from emerging. They demanded elected (not appointed) judges and rewrote many state constitutions to reflect the new values. In national terms the Jacksonians favored geographical expansion, justifying it in terms of Manifest Destiny. There was usually a consensus among both Jacksonians and Whigs that battles over slavery should be avoided.
Clearly, the growing liberty rebellion wants nothing to do with Obama’s statist empowerment of the presidency. Quite the opposite. It doesn’t drive to expand the franchise; there’s no need. It does desire to reengage millions of Americans in the electoral process who’ve been alienated by the leftist ascendency and Republican quiescence.
What the liberty rebellion does aim to do is redefine government consistent with founding principles, reducing and limiting the federal government. It most certainly seeks greater localism and individual empowerment. It strives to break the stranglehold of Washington privilege and the cronyism that attends, which is very Jacksonian.
Patronage as a counter to elitism? Not a go among liberty rebellion faithful. Liberty rebels want to eliminate or reduce bureaucracies, like the EPA, that aggregate powers through generous interpretations of laws, and who are aided and abetted by politicians wanting unelected government -- peopled by the taxpayers’ employees -- to serve as a critical fifth column in consolidating government power and prerogatives while trampling freedom.
The liberty rebellion fires squarely at an appointed judiciary -- at unelected jurists who make up the law as they go, who have as their touchstones “personal experience” and the progressive condescension that sheepskins and higher social status give them the right to reorder society and lives. That’s most Democrat-appointed jurists, nowadays, but that goes for the likes of Anthony Kennedy, too.
Manifest Destiny? What right-thinking American -- in stark counterpoint to the left -- doesn’t believe that the American experience is exceptional? That the nation hasn’t been ordained by God to be a beckon of freedom and hope in a dark world of tyrannies? Who, among the friends of liberty, doesn’t want to shout this from rooftops?
As to any avoidance of the critical issues of the day, the liberty rebellion is about bringing it on. Abortion, for instance, has been the nation’s equivalent of the slavery issue since Roe v. Wade. The Planned Parenthood butchery of the unborn has raised awareness of the monstrosity of killing the unborn, thereby committing the ultimate act of depriving human beings of their rights and eventual liberty.
Like the Jacksonians (certainly like Jackson), liberty rebels spoil for the fight, and aren’t waiting around for the left to take the first shots anymore. Trump is showing how to knock the left and its establishment lackeys on their keisters.
The GOP establishment’s script is being shredded by Trump. Trump alone doesn’t make RINOs uneasy, though. By his lonesome, Trump can be written off as a noisy interruption; a pop culture celeb, a People magazine cover or two, social media fodder. Bored viewers will finally surf on. His ratings will tank and cancellation, his fate.
Even if Trump leaves the field, the grassroots movement that fuels him won’t vanish, nor will it be absorbed by any establishment. Astute -- and alarmed -- leftists and RINOs know so. Trump reflects more than shines. He leads the pack among a crowded field of GOP presidential aspirants because he’s part Howard Beal, part Old Hickory, and part Goldwater. He’s mad as hell and not taking it anymore, which mirrors accurately the sentiments of tens of millions of Americans.
In the day, weren’t Old Hickory and the Jacksonians “mad as hell?” Jacksonian Democracy was fueled by a righteous indignation -- as is today’s liberty rebellion.
When we consider the struggle for freedom (and it’s been ongoing since the Revolution), we need to consider how past movements are amalgamated, synthesized. Today’s liberty rebellion resembles the Jacksonian but has many fathers. Expressions for liberty change, somewhat, to fit the times, but the core principles remain. Liberty is still man’s natural state. Humanity’s direction (as epitomized in the American experience) struggles toward achieving this birthright. It’s nearly instinct.
Though the focus is on Trump, some conservatives -- and more Republicans -- are unsettled by the liberty rebellion. It’s too Jacksonian in profile for whiggish conservatives -- it’s raw, coarse, and full of the frontier; it discounts government more than they’d care. They are the George Wills of the world.
For establishment Republicans, it poses a threat to the privileges they enjoy as part of the “loyal opposition.” Hello, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, among others, you who have carved out comfortable lives among DC’s reigning statists. These RINOs can’t stomach seeing an apple cart overturned much more the entirety of progressivism.
Trump is ultimately immaterial. The forces for freedom at work are greater than any one man or woman. It has always been so on these shores.Whether it be the highhandedness of a king or the gambits of anti-liberty elites in Jefferson’s day, Jackson’s, and beyond, average Americans have risen up to protect or reclaim and advance freedoms.
It’s happening again today. Old Hickory would get it.