“Donald Trump’s First Order of Business Should be Reinstating Andrew Jackson” Guest Editorial by Erich Straub
Donald Trump has been told repeatedly - by everyone from pundits, to campaign advisors, and even his own wife Melania - to act more presidential. After all, it’s not “presidential” to go around being a rude, blowhard who insults everyone who disagrees or dares to criticize you. Or is it?
It’s hard to tell in today's political climate where more and more people say they want an outsider and someone who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. In fact, Trump supporters seem to revel in the billionaire’s bizarre antics and take no guff, scorched earth policy when it comes to dealing with everyone from his political opponents, to foreign powers who continue to exploit us like China and Mexico.
Believe it or not, there was a time when the president did act like this, and he was adored by the public: Andrew Jackson. As a 13 year old boy he served as a courier during the revolutionary war, rose to the rank of general as a man and became a national hero for his role in guiding the U.S. to victory in the battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812. A dozen years later, after serving as a senator, he became a populist favorite among the people when he was drafted for the presidency in 1824, much in the way Trump has energized a large section of the country in 2016.
And like Trump, Jackson was not quite the statesman the office had become accustomed to with the likes of Washington, Adams, and Jefferson. Nicknamed “Old Hickory” for his rigid and unforgiving personality, he did not take criticism or losing lightly. And much like Trump is forecasting in his delegate fight with Ted Cruz and the RNC should he lose at the convention, Jackson also complained of a corrupt and rigged political system.
Despite winning the popular vote by ten points and securing the most electoral votes (but not a majority) in 1824, Jackson was denied the presidency when Congress, persuaded by Speaker of the House Henry Clay, declared John Quincy Adams (the son of a former president) the winner despite finishing second. I don’t know for sure, but there have been rumors that Jackson labeled Adams a “low energy stiff” during the campaign.
When Clay was named Secretary of State by the newly crowned Adams, Jackson became outraged and claimed that he had been the victim of a “corrupt bargain” by Washington insiders, namely “Lyin Henry Clay”. Sound familiar? One can only imagine what Donald is going to be saying should Ted Cruz become the nominee as a result of a “corrupt bargain” at the RNC convention in Cleveland.
Jackson’s supporters echoed this idea and swept him to the white house in a landslide victory over Adams four years later despite much political maneuvering and dirty tricks. Like 2016, wives were not always off limits either. Adam’s campaign labeled Jackson’s wife Rachel a bigamist, claiming that she was not divorced from her first husband when she married him. The attacks were so fierce and personal, Jackson blamed them for Rachel’s sudden death, as a result of a heart attack, before his inauguration.
In fact, Jackson took insults directed at his wife incredibly personal, vowing that he could forgive attacks on his own character, but not on Rachel’s. Consider this: when his wife Melania was the subject of an insulting campaign ad, Trump responded by tweeting a less flattering picture of his opponent’s wife. When his wife was insulted, Jackson responded by shooting him in the chest - literally. Imagine what the talking heads on CNN would have to say about that. “He really needs to take a softer tone if he’s going to win over the undecideds”.
Indeed Jackson was known to regularly partake in duels, as was custom at the time, and killed several of his opponents. In 1806 he challenged Charles Dickinson an attorney (and expert shot) to duel him after making disparaging remarks about his wife Rachel Jackson. Dickinson fired first, striking Jackson in the lung, but Old Hickory promptly returned the favor, striking Dickinson square in the chest and killing him. Jackson survived, but carried the bullet (which narrowly missed his heart) lodged in his lungs for the rest of his life. It was even rumored that the bullet shifted around and caused Jackson awful coughing fits.
Jackson was also known to have an incredibly foul mouth, so much that his pet parrot - Polly - picked up his bad habit and often swore at guests in the white house. It was even rumored that at Jackson’s funeral, Polly had to removed because she was spewing so much profanity at guests. As far as I know Trump does not have any pets, but he has been known to drop a few bombs in his speeches and at rallies, perhaps most famously when he labeled Marco Rubio (Little Marco) “a pu--y”. Imagine what things a Trump parrot might pick up?
And now the treasury department has decided to move Jackson to the back of the twenty dollar bill to make room for Harriet Tubman. Originally set to replace Hamilton on the ten, the treasury has now conceded to the outrage buffered by the hit broadway rap musical about the founder of the banking system. Don't expect the same outrage to try to save Jackson.
Instead, he is an easy target to kick - he was not well liked by the political establishment during his presidency or after, and his reputation has soured over the years due to the fact that he was a slaveholder and supported slavery in the south, as well as his policy of indian removal which led to the infamous “trail of tears” along the southwest.
In reality, it’s somewhat puzzling that Jackson ever made it onto the twenty in the first place, considering that he was ardently against a central bank and paper money to begin with. A strict fiscal conservative, Jackson believed that a central bank gave the federal government too much power, invariably leading to too much debt and allowing the wealthy to build a monopoly. He famously vetoed the recharter of the bank in 1832, in defiance of clay, calling it: “a den of vipers and thieves”.
If, by some chance, he is elected, Trump’s first order of business (right after he begins construction plans for the wall of course) should be to veto the plan to move Jackson from the twenty. Many of our heroes had their flaws and Jackson was no different. He was an American hero who defeated the British, fought for the common man, and brought the country completely out of debt - the only president in history.
Also, in many ways, he is the man who paved the way for the Donald to march his way to the White House, believe it or not. Upon leaving office, Jackson was asked what the biggest regret of his presidency was, he replied: “not hanging Henry Clay and John Calhoun”. While I can't envision any modern day president saying anything remotely resembling that, somehow coming from Trump it would seem remarkably appropriate.
Note: this article was written on April 14, 2016. Trump has since weighed in on the topic and said that he disagreed with the treasury department’s decision, but has not said whether or not he would overturn it.