mead berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn bayles
WRM in the WSJ
The Origins of Trump’s Political Movement

Who made Donald Trump president? And what do his supporters want? Those are questions everyone is asking this week. In The Wall Street Journal, WRM gives his answer:

The election of Donald Trump was a surprise and an upset, but the movement that he rode to the presidency has deep roots in American history. Mr. Trump’s strongest supporters are the 21st-century heirs of a political tendency that coalesced in the early 1820s around Andrew Jackson.

Old Hickory has been the despair of well-bred and well-educated Americans ever since he defeated the supremely gifted John Quincy Adams in the 1828 presidential election. Jackson’s brand of populism—nationalist, egalitarian, individualistic—remains one of the most powerful forces in American politics. The Republican Party’s extraordinary dominance in this election demonstrates just how costly the Democrats’ scornful rejection of “hillbilly populism” has been.

Read the whole thing.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Anthony

    First, there is a WSJ paywall – so entire article may be unavailable for some readers (including me).

    Second, Andrew Jackson’s brand of populism – nationalist, egalitarian, individualistic – may remain one of a host of forces in American politics (and given current signal interpretation as result of Donald Trump’s electoral success) but this is 2016 a nuclear/digital globalized world that The United States operates in, If Jacksonian credit explains aspects of Trump’s success, then what part of the 47-48% popular vote are Americans to deduce they contributed (assuming voters know they are Jacksonian)?

    • Disappeared4x

      That WSJ paywall IS a barrier, so am writing this while listening to the Journal Editorial Report.

      An early error by Mr. Mead is “…the Democrats’ scornful rejection of “hillbilly populism…”

      No Mr. Mead – the O’Democrats scornfully rejected;

      condescendingly labeled, with malice aforethought,

      the Hillbillies themselves, who actually live in EVERY state in what is barely still the United States of America.

      And some of us are from the Flatlands – we are, IMHO, mistakenly called Flatlanders by the Hillbillies. In 2016, I am living on the Plateau, by conscious choice on a street with a lot of Rednecks. Such is the dilemma of Labels in Baskets!

      I do agree that 1824 is a relevant historical election for understanding 2016, but still not certain this is populism.

      2016 is the Battle Against Transnational Post-modernism
      2016 is the Battle For Patriotism

      2016 is the Battle Against Identity Politics.
      2016 is the Battle For Respect for Multiple Issue Voters.

      2016 is the Battle Against Political Correctness.
      2016 is the Battle for Freedom of Speech, and Freedom of Belief.

      President-elect Trump may not have been a General, but he sure reminds me of Andrew Jackson, and Ulysses S. Grant. What a fighter!

      Looks like the WSJ Editorial Report is having their own post-election civil war.

      For anyone who still has a sense of humor:

      • Anthony

        Thanks for the “Ode” but I would still have preferred reading article , using my own lights to interpret general idea. Nevertheless, I appreciate your contribution to denotation (label). May I offer that the mark of a healthy democracy is the preference for argument rather than invective – an area where many Democrats and Republicans failed (whether of Jackson or Grant street-fighting spirit). Also, thanks for link and allow me to reciprocate:

        • Disappeared4x

          It was Victor Davis Hanson’s essay on Trump as fighter, citing Lincoln on Grant after day 1 of Shiloh “I can not spare him. He fights.” (& Sherman) that helped me rethink Trump the candidate.
          Thanks for the link to VDH today. It’s at RealClearPolitics.

          I agree that “…the mark of a healthy democracy is the preference for argument rather than invective…”

          My first epiphany that the new Democrats are totalitarian thought police came in 2006. Went to the first “Village Greening” meeting, armed with a list, from a school of forestry, of long-lived trees that people could plant in their yards to absorb CO2.
          I was publicly humiliated: told 1) those trees will die in 100 years and release CO2,
          2) planting trees will diminish the albedo effect (still unsure if they understood the albedo effect is about vast snow fields as in Greenland, not my 1/3 of an acre);
          and, we were all instructed:
          3) the ONLY personal solution was to stop using clothes dryers.

          In 2015, same Village, a visually idyllic right-to-farm village in Western Mass, decided to stop the Kinder-Morgan pipeline for fracked natural gas. Every entrance to Village had signs, red squares that said “NO”, in smaller print “fracked gas in Mass.”

          Those red NO signs were MACRO-aggressions to me – I moved.
          They won: Kinder-Morgan gave up.

          • Anthony

            You’re quite welcome.

            Regarding new Democrats (I think I understand your description) and their liberalism in its political instantiation as practiced, yes it became condemnatory, derisive, and mocking of perceived opponents (though same could be said for many on the right side of the ledger – but Democratic liberal ideas have been ascendant).

            In that regard, positions were held (Democrats/Liberals) as without challenge (Holy Writ) and all who disagreed had “suspect” motive – kind of like your Village Greening experience. Perhaps, Trump’s victory and Republican electoral success may force serious thinking about what liberalism in America means (or should mean) by Democrats. Because from my view, we need a healthy liberalism to counterpoise overreaching conservatism (Revanchism).

            And thanks again, I did not know about an “albedo effect” and appreciate the contrast referred.

  • Frank Natoli

    what do his supporters want? Those are questions everyone is asking this week.
    Uh, no, that is NOT what “everyone” is asking. That is only what those who didn’t bother to listen to either what Trump promised or those who were committed to Trump before the election. Think about it. To NOT KNOW what Trump promised, or what those who were committed to Trump before the election, means you have NO IDEA who the Republican candidate was. How can you vote against a candidate without having any idea who he is?

    • ricocat1

      For those who were not paying attention: almost every one of Donald Trump’s speeches can be seen on YOUTUBE. They will be long studied in political science classes in a class possibly called “How to have fun while wiinnng the presidency on time and way under budget.”

  • ricocat1

    What do Donald Trump’s supporters want President Donald Trump to accomplish? Put the interests of America First. Make America Great Again. Build that wall and put an end to sanctuary cities. Defeat radical Sunni Islam. About the only wrong thing Trump ever said that I strongly disagree with was “You will get so tired of seeing America winning all the time”. NO Mr. President, we will never get tired of seeing America winning with Donald Trump.

  • Dhako

    A friend of mine (a Chinese-American Academic) who teaches graduate courses in Ohio State University wrote this to me the other day, particularly when he saw me ventilating my distaste of those who would vote the likes of Trump into the White-House. And here what he said:

    “….Hubris blinds you, my friend. You still don’t understand why Trump supporters voted the way they did, because you refuse to read the mood and get a clue.

    Trump supporters are the bitter, and are mostly the downtrodden and the forgotten. What they want, more so than benefiting themselves, is to vent their anger at those who rose above their heads. Those who have the most, also have the most to lose. The want the rich and affluent (and the well educated) who are heavily invested into globalization to feel pain.

    A laid off worker in the rust belt will have little prospects regardless of the economic state of the greater nation. If he can’t climb up, he will claw back down those who rose up by stepping on his shoulders. He’s in pain, he feels betrayed, at those who left him behind, who in the past not only refused to lend a hand but even forgotten about him completely. So he, and men like him, sends Trump to burn down Washington, to tear down everything the elites have built. The more appalled you are from your high pedestal, the more he will cheer Trump on. He’s not for Trump, he’s against YOU, the condescending, arrogant, self proclaimed “intellectual” who dismisses his rage as ignorance….”

    Now, personally, I do not know whether this makes sense. But I suspect there is something to it, particularly in the sense of that metaphorical Rust-Belt citizen saying that, if I am down, economically (which has the feel of being a permanent condition in my case) then I will make sure those who are having a swell of time across the liberal and prosperous states in the east and the west coast should also come to feel the kind of pain I have felt for a better part of two decades.

    And if that is the case then I fear we are in a long turbulent time, since such a unreasoning thinking couldn’t be cure with logic or even with the promise of better tomorrow for all, if only he accept the policies the liberal can implement with his vote.

    In other words, he is basically looking forward to bring down the citadel and therefore he is not in the mood to be told how different economical policies as well as a bit of retraining on his part could ensure that his life doesn’t have to be as bleak as it currently is. And who knows, it may even improve immeasurably.

    • Anthony

      Thanks for the view from a “third pair of eyes” on the ground. Appreciated.

    • Disappeared4x

      When you are laid-off , or down-sized, or, in McKinsey-speak: “disappeared”, the anger turns inward into depression. This is why mortality from alcohol, opoids, or suicide has notably impacted middle-aged white Americans in the past 15 or so years.

      However, that anger does not usually translate into wanting to bring down the “winners”, as your academic friend assumes.

      We want those elitist winners to STOP LYING TO US.
      Stop promising “re-training” when age-discrimination >50 continues to be the biggest barrier.

      Stop the knee-jerk labels. Stop the “food groups” of Identity Politics.

      Ok, back to being depressed. Past few days of more lies from the MSM, more lies about the hate-filled protests, what difference does any of this make?

      • seattleoutcast

        Exactly. This is no “get even” group of people. It is filled with people who saw their livelihoods unfairly taken away at the expense of many groups, especially the globalists who have no allegiance to the US.

  • Proud Skeptic

    About three or four months ago, I started thinking about Jacksonians and decided to read HW Brand’s excellent biography of Andrew Jackson.

    I immediately recognized two things…One is that the attitudes that put Trump in office are VERY similar to the attitudes that put Jackson in office. The second is that Donald Trump is no Andrew Jackson.

    Oh…and another thing…it was quite an awakening for me to realize that I, a 60 year old, Republican voting, Conservative would have been a Jacksonian Democrat had I lived in the 1820’s.

    Gotta love it.

    • LarryD

      Read WRM’s essay The Jacksonian Tradition and American Foreign Policy, if you can find a copy online. I’m not a pure Jacksonian, but the Tradition is strong in me.

      • Proud Skeptic

        Nobody is all anything. I was very impressed by the man and understood for the first time why he made it to the $20 bill.

  • GS

    Who made Donald J Trump President? Why, I did. Do not look any further. I and sixty-something million other Americans.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service