Laura Ingraham has written a fascinating new book, “Billionaire at the Barricades,” about the election of President Trump, but also about how populist uprisings against out-of-touch elites of politics, finance and the media have shaped elections since Reagan. But of course, this stretches back to way before Reagan.
The fact is, there is nothing new in politics, no matter how many times shocked pundits flap their hankies and wail that something they dislike about Trump is “unprecedented!” Back in 1828, political outsider Gen. Andrew Jackson won a presidential race that made today’s sleazy campaigns seem mild. His opponents accused his wife of bigamy, called his mother a “common prostitute” and his father a “mulatto,” and claimed that he cannibalized Native Americans. One rival candidate even declared Jackson “altogether unfit for the office” (deja vu!) Not all that surprising, considering how much the elites of the time really didn’t want him in office. He was blunt, combative and out of place in polite, wealthy circles. He ran on a promise to represent the common man and vowed to end corruption between politicians and bankers and to scale back the rising power of the federal government. And he believed that if officials didn’t abide by the will of the people, they should resign. Any of this sound familiar?
The major thing that’s changed since the 1800s is that Jackson was considered the father of the Democratic Party. Now, that same party is distancing itself from Jackson over his ugly attitudes about Indians and slavery, and relentlessly opposing a President who sounds just like him on the issues their party was supposedly founded on. The “party of the common man” now cozies up to the wealthy elites of DC, Hollywood, Wall Street and Silicon Valley while expressing horror at the idea of that vulgarian Trump upsetting their golden apple cart to restore power to the “deplorables.”
Time and again, the elites have attacked Trump as being wrong, crude, out of touch, etc., for voicing opinions that are not only popular with many Americans, but that were once considered common wisdom: everything from securing the border to enforcing immigration laws to standing respectfully when the National Anthem is played. All these and more have come under assault by “progressives” in recent years, but the fact that the media now accept the leftist viewpoint as unquestionably correct doesn’t mean that most Americans agree. Remember the immediate reaction to Trump’s criticism of the NFL Anthem protests? Most media elites assailed Trump, and players openly defied him. But he wasn’t creating a controversy so much as just saying what millions of Americans were already thinking. Now, the NFL is scrambling to backtrack as its ratings plummet.
Despite what the elites may say, that reaction wasn’t manufactured by Trump. He just gave voice to a sentiment that was already there. Politicians who are blocking attempts to reform Obamacare, immigration, the tax code and other issues that voters are fed up with should bear in mind that that same principle applies across the board. Trump isn’t some crude thug attacking your sacred institutions so much as the voice of what’s already being widely said outside your elite bubbles.
In closing, I’ll note that for all the attacks, scandals and accusations leveled at Andrew Jackson, he succeeded in dismantling the national bank, became the only President ever to pay off the national debt and won reelection in a landslide. That’s how well the elitists’ attacks worked back then. Do you really think they’re working any better now?
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