Andrew Jackson: The Patron Saint of Donald Trump?

A Donald Trump presidency, like that of Andrew Jackson in 1829, would be driven by emotion, according to SMU historian Aaron Crawford.

Crawford, from SMU’s Center for Presidential History, gave the Tower Center’s September jacksonandtrumpbbflmonthly seminar lecture: “Injury, Rage, Audacity: Donald Trump, Andrew Jackson, and
the Creation of the ‘People’s Candidate.’”

Crawford explained the appeal of a candidate like Trump or Jackson as a symptom of people’s desire for a hero. They know he isn’t perfect, but they don’t care. They want someone with a strong temperament– authoritative even — and someone who they believe means well.

Voters weren’t deterred by the fact Jackson shot a man who he disagreed with, and, as Trump said at a rally in Iowa “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”

After the devastation of the War of 1812 and the economic panic in 1819, Jackson’s supporters saw an America “that didn’t win anymore.” They believed the U.S. had been humiliated. This attitude, prevalent in today’s electorate, paired with a political class ignorant of voters’ feelings, lends itself to the rise of a ‘people’s candidate’ like Jackson or Trump.

“What really binds them together is this idea of victimization,” Crawford said. “The personalization of every issue.”

Listen to Crawford’s lecture: