Why Republicans are embracing Andrew Jackson, as Democrats abandon him

Just as the Democratic Party turns its back on Andrew Jackson – some even want 'Old Hickory' off the $20 bill – the GOP seems to have fully embraced him. Republicans are now the anti-elites.

Bill Sikes/AP/File
A likeness of Andrew Jackson, seventh president of the United States, adorns the front of the $20 bill, in this file photo taken April 17, 2015, in Boston. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) of New Hampshire filed legislation on April 16 to create a citizens panel to recommend an appropriate woman candidate to be put on the bill.

Andrew Jackson has long been credited with starting the Democratic Party. He brought the Western frontier to Thomas Jefferson’s anti-federalist (and anti-Wall Street) sect and created the party of the underdog.

In fact, it was at a Jefferson-Jackson fundraising dinner in Iowa where Barack Obama first became a political rock-star.

Old Hickory has been dead now for exactly 170 years, and over those seventeen decades, things, of course, have changed.

The Democratic Party is now more closely associated with the coastal elite than it is with the agrarian south or frontier west.

Some Democratic activists are pushing to push Jackson’s face off of the twenty-dollar bill. It’s time to put a woman on the double-sawbuck, the argument goes, just as Hillary Clinton kicks off a strong campaign to seize the White House.

Just as the Democratic Party turns its back on Jackson, the GOP seems to have fully embraced him.

The Republicans are now the anti-elites.

They are the ones who are furiously trying to kill the Export-Import bank, a symbol of crony capitalism. This fight reminds me so much of Jackson’s efforts to kill the Second National Bank of America.

The party faithful is most concerned with the national debt, a shibboleth of Jackson, who was the last president to actually pay off our debt in its entirety. The result of that effort was financial crisis and a long depression.

Jackson was a country lawyer, but had no formal education. He learned not from books, but from the hard school of the real world. In fact, he was barely literate.

The GOP’s frontrunner didn’t graduate from college, and should he be elected, he would be the first non-college graduate in the White House since Harry Truman.  Truman made his money as a haberdasher before entering politics, and, of course, Harry is another icon of the Democratic Party.

Gov. Scott Walker’s lack of a college degree is seen by most party strategists as a plus in a Republican primary that is populated by modern day Jacksonian populists.

A party that could seriously consider Sarah Palin as a viable contender for the vice president (and by extension, the White House), is a party that has a real problem with the elites in this country.

If anybody hated this country’s elites, it was Andy Jackson, the hero of the Battle of New Orleans.

Jackson was a tough old bird who didn’t care much for Indians, who hated John Quincy Adams, and who absolutely despised Henry Clay.

If Andy Jackson were to run in the Republican primary today, he would win in a cakewalk.

He may have once been a symbol of the Democratic Party, but his spirit lives on with the GOP.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Why Republicans are embracing Andrew Jackson, as Democrats abandon him
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today