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A New Jacksonian Era? Part II
In Part One of this article I documented the populist administration of Andrew Jackson and similarities to Donald Trump's populist victory in the recent election. I'll now try to assess the chances of a Trump presidency accomplishing its populist agenda.
The Trumpian Era
"But you must remember, my fellow-citizens, that eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty, and that you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing. It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their own selfish purposes." - Andrew Jackson
"For too long, a small group in our nation's capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs. And while they celebrated in our nation's capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land. What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th, 2017 will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer." - Donald J. Trump - Inaugural Speech
It is not a coincidence the painting in the oval office behind President Trump's desk is of Andrew Jackson. He has promoted his presidency as a Jacksonian quest to return government to the people. His chief strategist Steve Bannon, a student of history, helped mold Trump's speech with echoes of Jacksonian populism:
"It was an unvarnished declaration of the basic principles of his populist and kind of nationalist movement. It was given, I think, in a very powerful way. I don't think we've had a speech like that since Andrew Jackson came to the White House. But you could see it was very Jacksonian. It's got a deep, deep root of patriotism there."
Jon Meacham, the author of the 2008 biography of Jackson "American Lion", said the moment in which the 45th president was taking office was "unquestionably Jacksonian." Meacham notes the similarities between Jackson and Trump as outsiders who shook up the establishment status quo. Their pugilistic natures struck fear into the hearts of Washington insiders, upending their insular corrupt scheme of rewarding themselves at the expense of the common man.
"Jackson was the first president who was not a Virginia planter or an Adams from Massachusetts. The establishment at the time saw his election as a potentially destabilizing democratic moment in what was largely a republican culture."
Jackson had pledged to sweep corruption out of Washington, comparing it to the herculean task of mucking out a "giant Augean stable." Trump's pledge to "drain the swamp" in Washington DC parallels Jackson's rhetoric. The establishment of the 1820s was still focused on Britain, the king and their own aristocratic schemes until Jackson was elected by the "mob of peasants", shattering their comfortable insular existence. The arrogant privileged establishment has treated Trump with contempt and scorn during his entire run for the presidency.
Their fear and loathing has reached epic proportions as their ill-gotten favored status is in danger of being obliterated by Trump's ascension to power through an overwhelming victory propelled by "the deplorables". The establishment never goes down without a fight. The establishment has survived for two centuries like cockroaches who can't be exterminated, as the commoners have proven to be easily manipulated and always open to bribes. Our descent into democracy has made each election is an advance sale on stolen goods.
Most new presidents, including Barack Obama, receive a honeymoon period where they are allowed to pick their cabinet and set an agenda with only token opposition from their political opponents. The people have spoken and the country usually comes together to support the new president. Both Trump and Jackson did not receive that courtesy. Jackson was confronted by a hostile Congress during his entire eight year presidency. His agenda of fighting against the powerful entrenched interests in Washington DC, while expanding presidential powers and the radical agenda of giving more power to the people, immediately provoked a hostile response from the vested interests.
History is not only rhyming this time, but the response from the fetid establishment creatures of both parties inhabiting the swamps of DC is identical to the response received by Jackson almost 200 years ago. Trump's honeymoon didn't last 5 minutes, as Soros and his well paid domestic terrorist organizations have waged non-stop violent protests on behalf of the corrupt establishment. The level of disgruntlement and faux outrage from the left wing establishment, right wing neo-cons, and their corporate media mouthpieces, with the results of the election is historic in its level of intense hatred, dishonesty, and blatant disregard for facts.
The Deep State ruling elite are quite happy with the existing nomenclature of pillage, obfuscation, and propaganda which has kept them in control for decades, if not centuries. Despite popular support for his agenda, Trump will be met with non-stop resistance from the rich liberal elites, globalist billionaires, Hollywood nutjobs, left wing media fake news outlets, low IQ social justice warriors, and a myriad of other useful idiots manipulated by Soros and his cronies. It is going to be a long tough slog, with a high likelihood of civil chaos in the streets. Even Jackson didn't meet this level of resistance.
The issue providing fodder for the hypocritical left wingers, who never protested for one second in the last eight years as their Nobel Peace Prize winning savior Barack Obama droned and killed thousands of innocent Muslims in the Middle East, is a temporary travel ban from seven failed states in the Middle East and the construction of a border wall to stop the mass of illegal immigrants pouring across our southern border.
Our already fraying social welfare safety net cannot withstand the addition of millions more illegal immigrants and Muslim refugees unwilling to assimilate and incapable of being productive tax paying members of society. The pandemonium, crime and terrorism engulfing Europe are as clear a warning as any critical thinking person should need. But their appears to be no critical thinkers on the left.
Islam is a religion of hate and the only religion where their zealots kill in the name of their god. They do not assimilate into our society, learn our language, respect our Constitution or obey our laws. Sharia law is their only law. The feminazis, genderless activists, communist judges and other left wing bomb throwers express outrage and rage towards Trumps executive actions.
Their hypocrisy and obtuseness is a wonder to behold as the Saudis and other Muslim nations treat women like dogs, while imprisoning and killing gays. Obama droning Muslim wedding parties, blowing up a Doctors Without Borders hospital, and causing a refugee crisis in Libya, Syria and Yemen didn't generate a peep from the left wing, but a temporary travel ban from a few countries brings hundreds of thousands into the streets to protest the racist, misogynist, xenophobe Donald Trump. It would be laughable if it wasn't so sad.
Trump's divisive illegal immigration stance and rhetoric to send them back to Mexico echoes the most controversial issue of Jackson's presidency - the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The Indian "issue" had plagued the country even before sovereignty from Britain. Previous administrations had tried to ignore the issue as settlers moved westward and clashed with Indian tribes in the South and North. Jackson was not one to ignore problems. The Act authorized the President to negotiate treaties to buy tribal lands in the east in exchange for lands farther west, outside of existing U.S. state borders. Jackson did not have a high opinion of the Indian tribes he relocated.
"That those tribes [the Sac and Fox Indians] cannot exist surrounded by our settlements and in continual contact with our citizens is certain. They have neither the intelligence, the industry, the moral habits, nor the desire of improvement which are essential to any favorable change in their condition." - Andrew Jackson
More than 45,000 American Indians were forcibly relocated to the West during Jackson's administration. He is blamed for the Cherokee Trail of Tears, where 4,000 Indians died during their journey westward. This was a human tragedy that could have been alleviated by a more humane relocation plan. This actually happened in 1838 under the Van Buren administration.
Historians are divided regarding Jackson's treatment of the Indian tribes. There was no stopping the western expansion of white settlers. Violent clashes between Indians and white settlers were a growing problem. Further fierce conflict was inevitable. By moving these tribes west of the Mississippi, some contend Jackson saved more Indian lives than were lost on the journey. It will always be regarded as the most controversial issue of Jackson's presidency.
The major difference between Trump's plan to relocate Mexicans back to their country and keep more from entering the country, is they are here illegally. The Indians were on their land first. The government forcefully seized their land and used the military to relocate them outside of the current borders. Trump's moral standing is higher than Jackson's. Spineless politicians have ignored the illegal immigration issue for decades, but the law is clear. Without the rule of law and enforceable borders, our country will die a slow death. Time will tell how history judges Trump's policies regarding illegal immigrants and refugees.
Jackson's vow to purge the government of corruption and reduce the influence of moneyed interests echoes Trump's campaign promises to drain the swamp. Jackson launched presidential investigations into all executive Cabinet offices and departments. Jackson believed appointees should be hired on merit. Jackson was truly a reformer as he asked Congress to restructure embezzlement laws, reduce fraudulent applications for federal pensions, streamline revenue laws to prevent evasion of custom duties, and strengthen laws to improve government accounting. Like Trump, Jackson was a strong supporter of veterans. The Service Pension Act of 1832 provided pensions to veterans while another act enabled widows of Revolutionary War soldiers, who met certain criteria, to receive their husband's pensions.
Trump filling his cabinet with billionaire business people is his Jacksonian attempt to breathe competence and accountability into government departments. Trump's theory is successful business people who can't be bought off by special interests will be able to reform their departments and bring a business-like atmosphere to a dysfunctional bureaucratic government establishment. It's guaranteed Trump's administration will not be like any before it. Success would infuriate the left and provide elation to Trump's everyday normal American supporters. The danger with all administrations, as Jackson warned, is factions are formed which endanger the liberties of the people.
"It is from within, among yourselves-from cupidity, from corruption, from disappointed ambition and inordinate thirst for power-that factions will be formed and liberty endangered. It is against such designs, whatever disguise the actors may assume, that you have especially to guard yourselves." - Andrew Jackson
Jackson's theory regarding rotation of office with competent administrators generated what would later be called the spoils system. The political realities of Washington, however, ultimately forced Jackson to make partisan appointments despite his personal reservations. Ultimately, his effort to reform government and make it operate more efficiently and for the benefit of the people failed. Introducing ethics into an unethical corrupt system is doomed to failure.
It is very likely Trump's billionaire, high performing, large ego, results oriented cabinet members will grow increasingly frustrated with the Washington bureaucracy, back stabbing and gridlock. It won't be anything like running a business and most will resign before the first term is over. This would also echo Jackson having to replace most of his cabinet during his first term.
This brings us to the two most crucial aspects of any president's success or failure -foreign policy and monetary policy. Trump's campaign rhetoric sounded much like Bush Junior's bombast during the 2000 presidential campaign. No nation building, no invading sovereign countries, stop provoking Russia, and defending our southern border were his campaign promises.
Even though Jackson was a military hero, his eight year presidency was peaceful, with absolutely no armed conflict with any other countries. It seems men who have known the horrors of war tend to utilize the use of military force as a last resort. Obama and Bush, having not faced death on the battlefield, used the military to kill indiscriminately across the globe. Jackson promoted trade with other nations, rather than confrontation.
The U.S. has been at perpetual war since the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913. Trump's oratory during the campaign was reminiscent of Ron Paul's non-interventionist doctrine. He declared we would no longer attempt to fix broken countries through military intervention. In his first three weeks in office he has surrounded himself with war-like advisors who have already provoked Russia and China.
Trump has threatened Iran and North Korea with retaliation for missile launch tests. Despite Trump's desire to reduce the number of conflicts he has our military responding to, the military industrial complex and their neo-con supporters in Congress continue to provoke conflict around the globe. His efforts to normalize relations with Russia will be met with resistance every step of the way. Trump's chance of an eight year presidency with no major foreign conflict is very low.
It seemed improbable that Andrew Jackson, a one-time land speculator, slave trader, opponent of debtor relief and wartime nationalist, would become the voice of the common man. By the 1820s Jackson's personal business experiences had transformed his opinions about speculation and paper money, leaving him everlastingly mistrustful of the credit system in general and banks in particular.
Jackson most certainly walked the talk when it came to purging the government of the undue influence by unelected private bankers over the economy and government. His war on Second Bank of United States and ensuing hard money policies were a victory for the average man against the moneyed aristocracy. His victory was hollow, as Jackson was unfairly blamed for the subsequent depression and ultimately the bankers regained their capture over the economic and political levers of power in this country.
While on the campaign trail Trump railed against the Federal Reserve and Janet Yellen. He declared the central bank was politicized and responsible for the past and ongoing bubbles in the financial markets. He asserted, without equivocation, the ridiculously low interest rates kept in place in perpetuity by the Federal Reserve were a major cause of the non-existent economic growth and the ongoing malaise infecting the economy. He stated the stock market was a bubble about to burst again, for the third time in the last sixteen years.
Of course, he was absolutely correct, but his tone and relative silence on the matter since his election may tell a different story. When the stock market went to new all-time highs after his election he hailed it as an endorsement of his economic plan. I haven't heard him asking for higher interest rates to pop the multiple bubbles in stocks, bonds and real estate. Presidents seem to acquire tunnel vision when it comes to acknowledging bubbles during their reign of power.
Anyone with a grasp of history knows the Federal Reserve's mandate of maintaining stable prices has been an undeniable catastrophic failure. The "goal" of 2% inflation is not stable prices, it's inflationary prices. The rate of inflation during the Jacksonian era was virtually 0%. From the founding of the country, except for periods of war, through the industrial revolution the country experienced mild deflation. This all ended in 1913 when a few corrupt politicians handed over the power of currency debasement and debt creation to private banking interests.
Central banks and wars go hand in hand. The U.S. would not be able to wage perpetual war without the man-made inflation and debt production by the Federal Reserve bankers. Since the creation of the Federal Reserve prices have risen fourteen-fold, destroying the working middle class and shoving tens of millions to the brink of poverty.
Trump knows the score. One wonders whether every new president is ushered into a room by the Deep State controllers and issued their marching orders when it comes to Wall Street, the Fed, and the military industrial complex. With a $20 trillion national debt and $200 trillion of unfunded welfare liabilities, Trump has no choice but to support the Fed's near zero interest rate policy and continuing the falsification of inflation data to keep the sheep in the dark as they are led to slaughter. His selection of alumni from the Vampire Squid on the Face of America (aka Goldman Sachs) as his key financial advisors does not bode well for the common man who elected him.
He doesn't appear to have the courage and fortitude of Jackson when it comes to taking on the vested financial interests who have engineered a silent coup over the last few decades. Without their support, his tax cuts, border wall, infrastructure plans, and rebuilding the military would be DOA. His plans require more debt issuance and low interest rates. He will play along to get what he wants.
There will be no routing out of central bank thieves and vipers during Trump's watch. He also won't be paying off the national debt anytime soon. With social welfare programs on automatic pilot, tax cuts, tariffs, and new spending initiatives, annual deficits will approach $1 trillion again. There is nothing Jacksonian about that. Trump is handcuffed by a financial house of cards created over decades.
If he chose to take on the financial interests who rule this country, they would create an economic collapse like the world has never seen and/or remove Trump from office through legitimate (impeachment) or illegitimate (assassination) means. I know he is less than one month into his presidency and his intentions on a plethora of crucial issues are well meaning, but the odds are overwhelming stacked against him somehow making government work for the people.
The law of large numbers works against Trump, while not hampering Jackson. The national debt was $60 million and the population was less than 13 million when Jackson took office. With a national debt of $20 trillion and deeply divided, relatively ignorant, and mostly apathetic population of 330 million, Trump doesn't have the financial flexibility or popular mandate to accomplish making America great again. That ship has sailed. He appears destined to govern during a time of civil chaos and ultimately financial collapse. And the climax will likely be a major global conflict involving Russia and/or China.
A major difference between the Jacksonian Era and the Trumpian Era is Jackson governed during the Second Turning Transcendental Awakening period. His populism and reforms were welcomed by the majority of the country. The mood of the country was awakened to social progress and utopian experiments to improve society. Trump has come to power in the midst of a Fourth Turning. Conflict, chaos, and crisis drive events during a Fourth Turning. There will be no overwhelming acceptance of any reforms put forward by Trump. Everything he attempts will be met with resistance. Despite his desire for peaceful relations with other nations, he is destined to be a wartime president.
Trump will most certainly accomplish the relatively easy stuff - cutting taxes, building a wall, increasing funding for the military, spending more on infrastructure, and repealing Obamacare. If he wanted to leave a legacy on par with Andrew Jackson's he would break up the Too Big To Trust Wall Street banks; reinstate the Glass-Steagal Act; clamp down on, if not dissolve, the activist Federal Reserve; eliminate all income based taxes and replace with a consumption tax; tackle the unfunded social benefit issue head on and make the programs smaller but viable over the long-term; drastically reduce the size of every government agency, if not eliminating many altogether; pass term limit legislation for the House and Senate; and lastly, stop policing the world while dramatically reducing our military presence across the globe. Will Trump have the courage to do any of the hard stuff? If not, the decline of the American Empire is inevitable.