Trump Breaking Windows
Andrew Jackson A Lightning Rod For Trump Revolution...
Jackson Was Fundamentally Different
Jackson was something fundamentally different. He was born in the backwoods of South Carolina. He spent his entire life on the frontier. He had fought, not only against Native Americans, but also against the British and won one of the greatest American military victories up until that time, the battle of New Orleans. He could be vulgar. He could be belligerent. To the men and women in the lower strata of American society he was a hero.
In electing Jackson, the American people were not simply electing another president. They were beginning what many political scientists refer to as the true American Revolution. They were overturning the existing social order. They were saying they would not be content any longer to follow the direction of an American "aristocracy." They were taking control. American politics were fundamentally reordered and were never the same again.
This coming January, we will have another inauguration in Washington DC. The after party is highly unlikely to be as raucous as that in 1829. It may, however, from a political standpoint, to be just as transformative.
Ever since Donald Trump began his campaign he has been dismissed by supposedly sage political commentators as something significantly less than a serious candidate. That sort of dismissive analysis and commentary continues to this day. It has been proven wrong so far, and it is likely to be proven just as wrong in the future.
Democratic strategists cling to the belief that Trump represents a relatively small segment of the population. These are, it is asserted, primarily old white men; misogynistic, racist and lashing out at a society that has left them behind. Democratic strategists comfort themselves with the sure knowledge that in the general election the population as a whole will rise up, swamp this relatively small number of voters and not only put Hillary Clinton in the White House but restore perhaps both the House and the Senate to Democratic control.
Bewildered Republican strategists who dismissed Trump early on continue to believe that if only those supporting him come to see the true Donald Trump they will turn against him and vote for decorum and the status quo.
Even less likely.
Those supporting Trump long ago saw the man for what he is. They are fully conscious of his many flaws. They know he is worth billions. They are aware he won't release his tax returns. They are aware he has spent more than his share of time jetting around the world in the company of Playboy playmates and hedge fund managers.
They don't care. They have voted for him in overwhelming numbers. In fact, Donald Trump already has received more votes than any other Republican candidate for President in history has ever received.
What all of the strategists and commentators have failed to recognize is that Donald Trump has become a lightning rod for a genuine and truly massive political movement in this nation. Whether this has been the product of some particular brilliance on his part or whether he is simply in the right place at the right time is unclear but it is nonetheless true.
Homes Under Water
All across America, there are tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of middle-class and working-class Americans who are simply fed up. They are, to paraphrase the motion picture Network, "mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore."
For decades now, they have watched their standard of living decline. They have had to run ever faster and work ever harder to pay the bills and keep the lights on. Their homes are underwater. They are working two and three jobs without benefits. Their children are graduating from school and unable to find work.
They look out at American society, and they feel that something is fundamentally wrong. The one percent of the population at the top of the heap are wealthier than they have ever been. In downtown Manhattan new residential skyscrapers for the super-rich are going up at a frantic pace. At the other end of the spectrum are a growing number of individuals who do not pay taxes and who do not appear to contribute to society but who enjoy tremendous government benefits.
They look at our southern border and they seem millions of individuals streaming into our nation illegally and see the government sitting on its hands. They watch as the children of these illegal immigrants are granted in-state tuition at state universities at taxpayer expense. They scratch their heads and wonder what is happening to the world around them, as talking heads on television explain that these individuals are simply "undocumented" not persons who have chosen deliberately and systematically to flaunt our laws and ignore internationally recognized borders.
They see factory after factory closing and work going abroad. They see immigrants being brought in through abuse of the legal immigration system to take American jobs, and all too often they are forced to train these individuals before giving them their jobs and going off to apply for unemployment benefits.
This huge chunk of American society sees that it is doing the work, it is paying the taxes, it is fighting our wars, and they don't feel that they are getting very much from the nation in return.
Year after year, they go to the polls, send politicians to Washington to bring about real change, and then watch in disgust, as these newly elected officials become part of the problem - not the solution.
Trump Far From Perfect
They see in Trump something different. He may be coarse. He may be vulgar. He may be figuratively speaking standing in the street, throwing rocks at windows and screaming insults. What matters is that the people behind him have reached the point where they want to break windows and scream insults as well.
Donald Trump is not perfect. I never have and never will support much of his behavior: his commentary about women, his demonization of Muslims and his insulting behavior toward political opponents. I remain personally undecided as to what I will do in the general election this fall.
American politics may never be the same.
None of that changes the fact that the movement Trump is leading is a very real phenomenon. Trump is not going to go away. His supporters are not going to go home quietly and sit on their hands. Their numbers are not declining; they are growing.
We may see a President Clinton being inaugurated in 2017. There is more than a slim possibility, however, that we may see Donald Trump taking the oath of office. We need to understand that and what it means. For better or worse American politics may never be the same.