It is Not Accidental That Andrew Jackson is on Prominent Display in the Oval Office
A Closer Look at the Powerful Connection Between Two Unapologetic Leaders
It is evident that the Oval Office of the 45th President of the United States has seen fit to give the 7th President a position of prominence, not just from an artisitic standpoint, but from President Trump’s unabashed expression of kinship with America’s first truly activist chief executive.
In more than just a superficial nod to populism, the Jackson portrait displayed in the Oval Office – painted by Jackson’s friend Ralph E.W. Earl around 1835 – clearly signals more than just an attempt to cover wall space.
Trump and Jackson are fellow travelers, and although some historians have ridiculed the connectivity between these two leaders, engaging in the kind of intellectual denigration that the left-of-center academic establishment always relishes in its effort to deny Trump any validity whatsoever, it is abundantly clear that a closer look at the lives and careers of both men reveal parallel struggles and philosophies.
Jackson was a self-made man. Rising up from the backwoods of the “Waxhaw,” a place that straddled the border of North and South Carolina, he was always the outsider, and though his toughness and ability facilitated his rise as attorney, military victor, Senator and ultimately President, he always bore the mantle of “marginal.” Quick to temper, he would never abide insult or a challenge, especially to what he believed to be core principles.
In his first foray into Presidential politics during the Election of 1824, he was one of five candidates for the office and, just as his modern day soul-mate, was vilified by the political establishment of the day because his appeal to the ordinary American was predicated not on issues, but rather, as a man of decision who made his own rules.
In the politics of that time, America’s President was selected by Electors designated by state legislatures. Nobody liked Jackson; Nobody liked him because he was perceived as crude, without gravitas, a rough and boorish frontiersman. Just as Donald J. Trump, nobody regarded him as a serious candidate for the office.
Hoary-headed Thomas Jefferson, primum creationis of American Republicanism, assessed Jackson to be “one of the most unfit men I know for such a place.” Haven’t we, in the modern era, had our ear drums singed with this tortured refrain?
Jackson ultimately shortened the odds because of the revolution taking place with respect to state voting eligibility. By 1824, many of the existing states, in addition to ones being newly admitted to the union, allowed the popular vote to determine Presidential Electors, not state legislatures.
Contrary to today’s ultra biased news media, which aggressively sought to depress and distort numbers during the 2016 Presidential race, candidate Trump attracted first time voters into the ranks of the Republican party in significant numbers, voters attracted to the message and personality of the man. Though Jackson lost to Adams under highly dubious circumstances, it did not stop “Old Hickory” from winning the Presidency in 1828.
Here again, the parallel with President Trump is too piquant to ignore. Jackson, just as Trump, gave voice to the “deplorables.” Jackson’s Presidency was a bow shot against those who would subvert the constitution, engorge themselves in special interest, and ultimately shunt aside the common man.
He was the first American President to utilize the power of the office to the benefit of those who lacked power. In his showdown with John Calhoun and South Carolina during the great Nullification Crisis in the Winter of 1832-33, Jackson pounded a table in the Executive Mansion (White House) and firmly stated while pondering the crisis aloud: “I will uphold the laws.” By God, does this sound familiar to our modern ears?
The spirit of Jacksonian Democracy looms large in the pageant of American History. Andrew Jackson was born of the meek and emerged as the lion. He was steadfast in his belief that the ordinary, everyday man or woman, the working person, the shop person, office person, farm person and factory person was worthy of the greatness and dignity their station in life entitles them to have.
He and President Trump are kindred souls, if for no other reason than their commitment to fight for principles, something that hollow, disingenuous and fawning politicians, then and now, manage to always lose sight of.
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