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. I’m pretty sure I would have been an Adams supporter in the election of 1828 had I lived at the time. But I don’t think Trump is anything new or scary. I don’t think he’s Hitler, and I don’t think he’s a fascist. To the extent he’s an authoritarian, it’s not a version of authoritarianism that’s foreign to the American character. I don’t like it, but I don’t think it’ll be the end of the country either. Some fast Trump facts, unrelated to above, but that I think are interesting:
- He is the only person to ever win the presidency with no prior government service or having held no elected office. We’ve elected a lot of generals with no political experience, like Ike and Grant, but it could be argued that leading the Allied Forces and Army of the Potomac was a harder job than being president.
- He is the oldest person to ever take office. Reagan previously held that record. However his father lived into his 90s, and his mother nearly made it to 90, so he’s got that going for him.
- He is the most immigrant president we’ve ever had. Seriously, it’s true. Most members of the President’s Club are cousins to each other, because their families have all been here forever. People threw a lot of birther nonsense at Obama, with accusations of being less than American, but while Obama’s father was Kenyan, his mother’s line has deep roots in the USA. He is a distant cousin to Bitter, and several other US Presidents. Trump is the grandson of German immigrants, and the son of a Scottish immigrant. He has the most immigrant background of any US President. Let the irony of that sink in a bit.
- He is the first President to have a First Lady who is an immigrant. The only other President that comes close is John Quincy Adams, whose wife Louisa was born in London, but to American (colonial at the time) parents. He is the first President who has a First Lady who speaks English as a second language.
- He’s the first President who’s been married three times. Three others have been married twice.
- He is our first President whose alma mater is the University of Pennsylvania. I’m sure they are so proud down there!
- The state that has produced the most Presidents is New York, and Donald Trump will take the number of Presidents whose home state is New York from 6 to 7, topping out Ohio. He joins Martin Van Buren, Millard Filmore, Grover Cleveland (elected twice), Chester Arthur, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin Roosevelt. However, only Donald Trump and Theodore Roosevelt were born in and raised in New York City.
- He is the first Republican to take Pennsylvania in a Presidential race since George H.W. Bush in 1988.