Home / General / The Republican Party Is An Upward Wealth Distribution Machine, And Trump Fits Right In

The Republican Party Is An Upward Wealth Distribution Machine, And Trump Fits Right In



Since there still seems to be a lot of resistance to the idea that Trump and Congress will collaborate effectively (“What if Trump wants to expand Social Security and Medicare?” Um, 1)he won’t, and 2)if he does, nothing will happen because Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell don’t support it), the already-extensive cooperation between Trump and Congress is worth recapitulating:

Meanwhile, the Congressional party is working hand-in-glove with its presidential wing. Every Trump cabinet nominee, even those who are brutally unqualified (like Ben Carson) or laden with serious ethical problems (like Tom Price), seems likely to sail through a Senate that can only afford to lose two Republican votes. And Congress has allowed Trump to conceal his tax returns and maintain his business empire, two violations of norms that would permit massive self-enrichment by the president and his family. Republicans have instead directed the oversight machinery of Congress against Trump’s critics and former opponents.

Trump and his party are cooperating on a wide range of traditional Republican policies: regressive tax cuts, weakening of labor laws, environmental protections, and regulations on the finance industry, and an assault on the Affordable Care Act. Both Trump and the Congressional GOP have attacked Obamacare for providing too little coverage, and have refrained from writing detailed alternatives because their ideas would provide even less coverage. To the extent that Trump is giving his Congressional wing trouble on health care, it is because he spouts off without understanding the issue.

The differences between Trump and his Congressional allies are no wider than those that divided Barack Obama and his party in 2009, or George W. Bush and his party eight years before that, or Bill Clinton and his eight years prior. Tim Phillips, president of the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity, the epitome of the libertarian, pro-business, Paul Ryan–esque Republican money wing, has praised Trump’s policies. “There just isn’t much daylight between us,” he told Politico recently.

It’s worth noting that trade is much more marginal to the conservative agenda than is commonly assumed. Remember that Bush put quotas on Chinese textiles, for example. Congressional Republicans are OK with some light protectionism as long as they get their upper-class tax cuts and weakening of labor rights.

I strongly recommend the rest of the post, which observes that “using populist rhetoric and ethnic nationalism to sell pro-elite policies” isn’t in tension with Jacksonianism — it’s what Jacksonianism was, although this has been obscured by some bad history that tried to draw a straight line between Jackson and FDR. Trump is just a particularly good illustration that the contemporary home of Jacksonianism is the Republican Party.

“There will be too much conflict between Trump and Congress for Congress to do much” is a nice story, but there’s no reason to believe that it’s true. And the idea that Trump will compel Congress to do anything that is in conflict with central Republican goals is nuts.

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  • Slothrop2

    If Van Buren was Jackson’s third term (Van Buren was like the Karl Rove of antebellum politics), who is the likely candidate for Donald Trump’s third term?

    • Steve LaBonne

      Don’t be so modest- start building your campaign organization now! I’m sure you’re just as qualified as Trump.

      • Slothrop2

        Hillary or bust

    • David Hunt

      If there’s anything like a free and fair election in 2020, I’m not worried about Trump’s second term. Of course, that “free and fair” part might be too big of an assumption by then…and of course no one thought he’d win this time.

      • Timurid

        Considering that Trump this morning publicly stated his intent to rig said election, well…

    • Scott Lemieux

      Van Buren was like the Karl Rove of antebellum politics

      “You’re so learned, Papa Slothrop!”

      “‘Lurnd,’ son. It’s pronounced ‘lurnd.'”

  • howard

    we can believe all of this – as i do – and still note that damage mitigation is the best we can hope for at this stage, and the biggest opportunity for damage mitigation is to try and create wedge issues between trump and ryan/mcconnell.

    this is, after all, a man who can be baited with a tweet.

    so, for example as i’ve noted before, i would be saying “why is donald trump so weak that ryan and mcconnell can veto infrastructure spending?” maybe this gets us nowhere, but as you rightly note, we are going nowhere: the republican congress is very much a parliamentary party now and as long as trump remains a useful idiot, it will use that lockstep parliamentary behavior to enforce right-wing priorities.

    • Nick never Nick

      I think we need many articles about how rumours of an upcoming 25th Amendment invocation are circulating on Capitol Hill.

      • howard

        there you go! i think some trolling about the senate holding hearings on the meaning of the 25th ammendment and chuck schumer asking mcllellan whether he thinks trump is “all there” is right along these lines!

      • David Allan Poe

        Since we know he’s monitoring the show, perhaps we can convince the SNL writer’s room to add a weekly sketch where McConnell and Ryan sit in a smoke filled room laughing and laughing about what a chump Trump is.

        • howard

          there we go!

    • BruceJ

      this is, after all, a man who can be baited with a tweet.

      No this is a man who can emit a squid-like cloud of twitter to confuse and engage the media while his right hand is shoved deep into our pockets.

      “John Barron” aside, I don’t necessarily believe that he’s all that baitable. I think it’s a strategery to keep us haring off after nonsense while he and his cronies do the damage their planning to the country.

      • q-tip

        We’ll see – you may well be right. But i still think Trump’s probably just a lucky idiot, and the elected GOP and Trump’s advisors are the smart smarter less idiotic ones. Cf. Franz von Papen and Hindenburg.

        After all, it would have been fairly simple to keep the Beltway press happy (or at least happier). Or defuse the momentum of the women’s marches by being vaguely conciliatory. Staying unpopular is pretty much a guarantee of higher scrutiny than he’d get otherwise, and I really don’t think that’s the smart play.

        (Six months from now I’ll probably be kicking myself for saying this, but right now I do believe it.)

        • howard

          trump is who he is: he is not without a certain innate sense of strategery, but fundamentally, he’s a highly reactive narcissist who has no capacity for reflection or learning.

        • CP

          After all, it would have been fairly simple to keep the Beltway press happy (or at least happier). Or defuse the momentum of the women’s marches by being vaguely conciliatory. Staying unpopular is pretty much a guarantee of higher scrutiny than he’d get otherwise, and I really don’t think that’s the smart play.

          We’ll see how much pissing off the Beltway Press does. As Hillary Clinton’s campaign demonstrated, the media does wield a ton of power, simply by setting the background noise – it doesn’t matter how much people distrust the media, if it’s saying the same thing over and over and there’s nothing else on, that’s going to color your judgment whether you want it to or not.

          At the same time, Trump is less vulnerable to this simply because he’ll never have all the media against him the way Hillary did – Fox News will continue to fluff him and counter whatever the hell the MSM puts out there. Combined with the incredibly low amount of trust people have in the MSM, that might just be enough to keep him afloat.

  • Mark Field


    • Note that if you erase your entire post and submit it as an edit, it will erase the post entirely.

      • Mark Field

        Didn’t know that. Thanks.

  • NewishLawyer

    A few weeks ago, there was a silly article about an expensive NYC men’s boutique. Probably in the Times of course. The owner of the store described his clientelle as paraphrased:

    “There are guys in finance who grew up wealthy, whose fathers and grandfathers worked in finance, they attended exclusive schools all their lives…Those guys are not my clients. There are guys who grew up working class or poor but always really loved finance and they made it, those guys are my clients.”

    There was also the old Tim Robbins mockumentary where he plays a folksy white reactionary with a guitar. This was done way back in the 1990s. Bob something or other. At the end of the movie, the journalist interviews two very young white rural guys and asks what they like about Tim Robbins’ character. One of the guys says “He cares about what we care about…making money.”

    Making money/fortunes has always been at the heart of the American experiment since the first colonialists came out here. Western resentment of Eastern states was explained to me as Westerners moving out to the frontier because the low-hanging fruits of the East were already taken and guarded and this resentment survived past the 1800s.

    It sounds mean but there does seem to be a kind of truth to the working-class kid who becomes rich via fiancee or something else and is very protective of their money/wealth. Someone like Martin Shkreli comes to mind. He grew up working class as far as I can tell and decided to make his money by anyway necessary. Once he got it, he decided he owed society nothing. Steve Bannon’s bio also fits. He grew up working class, attended college when it was cheap in the 1970s, got into Goldman and made his fortune among very liberal types (at least culturally liberal), but somehow managed to keep all the right-wing resentiments.

    I am not sure what can be done about this as theme in American history. Not everyone who is WWC falls into this stereotype but there is enough there for it to be true.

    • CaptainBringdown

      “Bob Roberts”

      And since when is “done way back in the 1990s” old, whippersnapper?

      • NewishLawyer

        I was 12 then and am 36 now. There is still a part of me that thinks 1997 was 10 years ago and not 20 years ago. I think of 2005-2006 as being yesterday.

        • tsam

          Cheer up–it’s all downhill from here and it only gets worse. My daughters were born clear back in the 1990s and are adulting now. It feels like 10 years ago to me too.

          • Steve LaBonne

            At 61 I’m frequently taken aback when I realize how long ago events took place that feel to me as though they happened recently.

            • tsam

              Right–and then sometimes a couple of months ago feels like 521 years. WHY DUZ BRANE NOT INDEX TIME PROPERLY?

              • rea

                Time has been speeding up since the early ’70s–now that I’ve reached 62, it’s real obvious.

                • tsam

                  True story. My dad and I have theorized that the reason old people drive so slowly is because of this effect–the perception of time increasing in rate. By the time you hit 90, it must be whizzing by like a bullet, thus making any motion completely terrifying.

                  We didn’t put a name on the theory–I have no idea why.

                • so-in-so

                  Driving slow may be realization of slower reaction times (or am I spoiling your joke?).

                  I think our time perception is relative, so a pre-teen experiences a year as 1/12 of the entirety of existence, while for us it is 1/60th.

                  Good news, the Orangemandious years will fly by.

                • tsam

                  (or am I spoiling your joke?).

                  DUDE WHY?

                  This was a fishing trip where the fish weren’t biting and this is where the conversation went. Also, stay tuned, cold fusion is on the way. Just need one or two more fishing trips to iron out the last of the details.

            • so-in-so

              Heh, the realization that the WWII (which was big in popular culture when I was a kid in the 1960’s) was as long ago then as Gulf War 1 is to today was when I felt old.

              • That actually struck me earlier, when I realized that the end of WW2 preceded my birth by the same number of years that the fall of Saigon preceded my daughter’s birth.

    • CP

      Making money/fortunes has always been at the heart of the American experiment since the first colonialists came out here. Western resentment of Eastern states was explained to me as Westerners moving out to the frontier because the low-hanging fruits of the East were already taken and guarded and this resentment survived past the 1800s.

      You could say the same of the colonization of the Americas themselves. They were, for a long time, a promised land for second-rate European elites. Sons of noble families who weren’t firstborn and therefore not going to inherit. Noble families that had pissed away the family fortune and were looking for a chance to make a new one. Bourgeois elites that found their upwards mobility blocked by the aristocracy.

      Predictably, this leads to a non-trivial number of American elites being people who basically wanted to recreate the old world, but this time done right, with them as the elite. A mentality that continues to infest the continent to this day.

      It sounds mean but there does seem to be a kind of truth to the working-class kid who becomes rich via fiancee or something else and is very protective of their money/wealth. Someone like Martin Shkreli comes to mind. He grew up working class as far as I can tell and decided to make his money by anyway necessary. Once he got it, he decided he owed society nothing. Steve Bannon’s bio also fits. He grew up working class, attended college when it was cheap in the 1970s, got into Goldman and made his fortune among very liberal types (at least culturally liberal), but somehow managed to keep all the right-wing resentiments.

      Counterpoints: Obama, who came from a poor/working class background, and the Clintons, who came from exactly the working/middle-class heartlander background Republicans love to idealize. Versus every Republican candidate in recent memory – Trump, Romney, McCain, Bush – who despite their pretensions of being “ordinary,” was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and, as often as not, failed upwards for the rest of their lives.

      • NewishLawyer

        Bill Clinton, yes. HRC was solidly middle class or upper-middle class. Obama is an odd case but not quite working class in the same way Martin S is. And I did say WWC.

        Romney never really tried in a serious way to be an ordinary joe. He is simply too patrician. Trump as we have discussed a million times, is a certain stereotype of how a rich person should act according to the working class. Trump still has the outer borough edge about him which I think was part of his appeal.

        • Rob in CT

          FWIW, my mother comes from a WWC background and is a Trumpette. Before that she was a TEA partier. Before that she protested the CT income tax. Loved Reagan. You get the idea.

          Hates taxes more than anything. Actually admitted once that her hatred of taxation is so strong as to be irrational. Didn’t change anything, of course.

          The mentality, so far as I can tell, comes from my grandfather: everyone is out to screw you. EVERYONE.

          “Grab what you can, give nothing back.” – Capt’n Jack Sparrow.

          • mnuba

            In fairness, I remember feeling a slight twinge of anger after seeing the withholding on my first grown-up paycheck (like I think many if not most people do).

            Then I got over it, because I also remember that I enjoy and get a lot of value out of living in a functioning society, and that I would not have been able to pull in even the amount of money I did on that paycheck without said functioning society.

      • nemdam

        I always found it baffling that the Clintons always get smeared as “elites” or even more bizarre “aristocratic” or “dynastic”. The Clintons embody the American dream and their lives are ideal examples of it. They both came from working class/middle class backgrounds and worked their asses off to become President with an affair as the only skeleton in the closet. Strip away the politics, and those are two damn impressive people.

        And yes, I get that they became elites, but by definition being President makes you elite.

        • so-in-so

          RW Projection. They are full-body elitists who think someone with money shouldn’t have to answer to anyone. They know (or knew, before you-know-who) that this isn’t a popular view except among people with money and a handful of others, so they claim that it’s a feature of Democrats. Aided by – the Dem they hated most (before the Clintons) was FDR, who was a rich guy too, but worked to help people without as much.

          • nemdam

            But non-RWers say this all the time too. It got thrown around a ton in the primary. And if you ask non or infrequent voters, they also say it. But yes, it did originate from the RW as propaganda.

            Side note, but the fact that all left wing activism is explained away from the right by George Soros cracks me up every time. Some of the worst projection they have, including now that they blame this weekend’s Women’s march on him. My response is always the same. If George Soros is this great of a mastermind, we should be celebrating him! Ditto for the Clintons. If they are the all powerful manipulators the RW claims they are, they should run the country!

            • so-in-so

              And the RWers would all be dead, but as said elsewhere, fact checking is meaningless because it’s more about proving your FAITH in the RW POGer religion than being right. Non-RWers, it’s just because they hear this crap more. How many restaurants and bars have Fox vs. MSNBC?

              Maybe we all should complain when the local eatery has Fox on. Even if they turn it off only while you are there, it could help.

              • nemdam

                I actually do this sometimes! If I see Fox in my vicinity, I ask the wait staff to change the channel.

              • Ahuitzotl

                I do this frequently, & to the point of, if they decline, I return my meal and go elsewhere (has happened a few times). Also try to do it at banks, but they’re much more resistant, having already got your money :/

            • mnuba

              Meanwhile the Koch brothers spent 750 million dollars during the 2016 cycle, but no it’s totally Soros who is buying elections

        • CP

          I always thought that this was precisely why Official Washington despised them in a way that was over-the-top even for liberals. They’re a success story of everything the Republicans and Official Washington claim is the best of America – ordinary people (working class in Bill’s case, middle class in Hillary’s) from the heartland (South, Midwest) who were talented enough and worked their asses off hard enough to rise to the top of American society. And they’re liberals, who refused to live the stereotype. Imagine how enraged that must make what is still a very East Coast and silver spoon set of people who, as much as they might praise the image of the hardworking heartlander, know damn well that they have nothing in common with that image and personify everything it’s not.

          • tsam

            They missed the part in the TRUE BLUE AMERICAN rags-to-riches story where they become oligarchs and yank the ladder up behind them. They’re super jerks.

            • so-in-so

              No, they AREN”T jerks, that’s why they don’t fit in!

              Start poor, become rich, yank up the ladder, become a jerk and start pissing on everyone below. That’s the GOP version of the Dream.

              • tsam

                I mean jerks from the perspective of the upper crust types.

          • Roberta

            This is also my understanding. There is a certain type of centrist liberal elitist who is deeply attached to the image of working-class people as salt-of-the-earth, conservative, anti-intellectual bigots, simple people who obey simple rules, and who don’t want any left-wing social or economic reforms. Although it’s not just centrist liberals–see, e.g., the general prevalence of the view that Trump’s supporters are predominantly the “white working class” (and not rich suburbanites, who supported him much more) or even the very poorest whites (who actually supported Hillary insofar as they came out to vote).

            It’s my personal opinion that Official Washington really likes the idea of the anti-intellectual conservative bigoted heartlander because it’s part and parcel of the idea that conservatism is more ‘authentic’ and more ‘real’ than liberalism or leftism. And in its heart of hearts, Official Washington is more conservative than liberal.

            • CP

              I totally agree with all of this.

              An important point to add: as much as it might be conservative and hippie-punching, Official Washington is also prejudiced against heartland whites. No, not the same way. They don’t hate the Dumb Hicks the way they do the Dirty Hippies, but they’re still distinctly uncomfortable around them and aware that they’re Not Our Kind, Dear.

              I and others have used the Noble Savage analogy to explain how Official Washington views the heartland – admiringly, patronizingly, and from a safe distance. It occurs to me that another analogy for this, especially for those who come to Washington, would be Black Best Friend – somebody who validates them and validates the idea that they understand and are cool with the relevant demographic. If the Clintons had come to Washington and been willing to play that role, there would totally have been a place for them. Instead, they did the opposite (mostly not overtly, just by what they worked for and who they were). And Official Washington was not happy about that.

              • Roberta

                Yeah, totally.

                As a thought experiment: I wonder how much of the Clintons’ not playing the role was because of who Hillary was, more than Bill. Does a President Bill Clinton with a traditional political wife get any real hate from conservatives?

                I mean, yes, he gets some, because he’s insufficiently racist, but I can’t imagine it wouldn’t have been greatly reduced and maybe wouldn’t have been it’s own thing of Clinton Derangement Syndrome.

                • CP

                  There’s no question Hillary refusing to be a traditional housewife played a huge role in making them both unpopular. Not sure to what extent. If I recall correctly, Carter also came in for plenty of ridicule from Official Washington. But not the kind of white-hot enraged fury that the Clintons provoke.

                • Dalai Rasta

                  Jimmy Carter came in for less ridicule from O.W. because no one with his lineage could be fairly called an outsider the way Bill Clinton could. Carter is a big name in American history.

        • NewishLawyer

          My long-standing theory is that in RWNJ land, elite= middle to upper-middle class bourgeois from a city or inner-ring suburb. Right-wing sneers against the “elite” are not so much based on money but on how one spends discretionary income and free time.

          The “elite” are people who press their city to do more recycling/composting, listen to NPR, prefer Prestige TV or PBS over Network TV, attend cultural events at museums, theatres, galleries, read literary fiction, like modern furniture, collect art if possible or at least keep up with new artists, are probably foodies, and try to vacation abroad when possible.

          Sarah Palin isn’t sneering at people for money. She is sneering at bourgeois attitudes on what you do with your money and how you make it.

          This was briefly covered in a Harvard Business Review essay right after the election. To be upper-middle class bourgeois comes with a wide range of signals and behaviors (real and imagined) including an aesthetic which generally tends to modern and restrained. The working class want to be themselves but with more money. They don’t want to adopt to the means and mores of the upper-middle class including the insistence on delayed gratification. There was another article in the Atlantic which observed that Trump supporters would rather get root canal than listen to a half-hour of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me or pretend to laugh at a New Yorker cartoon.

          FWIW, I like New Yorker cartoons.

          I might also be projecting because I am the kind of urban bourgeois liberal who would rather spend an afternoon or evening at the theatre than at a sports game. My girlfriend’s friend (who isn’t even American) needed to point out that the Superbowl was Feb 5th to me.

          • rm

            Me, college professor in red state: elitist who will never be “from here” and who is getting a free ride on the gravy train of a state school salary.

            My neighbors, who are “from here” and make 3x my salary and spend it on incredibly expensive pickup trucks they only use for basic transportation: salt of the earth, common clay of the new west, ordinary folks who are just scraping by and present supporting all the moochers.

            (Although, I must say, I also would rather tear out a fingernail than listen to “Wait, Wait, DTM”).

  • AMK

    “What if Trump wants to expand Social Security and Medicare?” Um, 1)he won’t, and 2)if he does, nothing will happen because Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell don’t support it

    The issue isn’t Trump expanding it; it’s Trump allowing Ryan et all to gut the programs when he knows his base loves them and he will take the blame.

    • Scott Lemieux

      “These Medicare vouchers are really great. The best.”

      • nemdam

        Exactly. The idea that Trump won’t cut entitlement programs/Obamacare because he will be blamed both for the damage they cause and the fact that he broke a promise is ludicrous. Newsflash to these folks: Trump lies and doesn’t care if he lies.

        • BruceJ

          Newsflash to these folks: Trump lies and doesn’t care if he lies.

          I deeply suspect he doesn’t even KNOW he lies. He says what will sell his position to the person in front of him and that’s as far as the whole thought goes.

          This is why he can put the Red Queen to shame.

          “Only seven impossible things before breakfast. Sad.”

    • tsam

      Will he, though?

      • Scott Lemieux


        • tsam

          Alright then. Get to it, Donny.

      • nemdam

        Not 100% sure they will be gutted. But if they remain untouched, it won’t be because Trump made a phony promise.

        • Scott Lemieux

          Exactly. Ryan doesn’t seem that interested in Social Security and ACA repeal will be a tough lift, but Trump has nothing to do with it.

        • Aaron Morrow

          First they have to be cut in a moderate-approved fashion, then turned into “welfare programs” in the media before they can then be block granted.

    • RPorrofatto

      There are few if any moderates in the Republican party now, so the Randians and other radicals will easily get their way, and this next year or two is going to be an artillery barrage of damaging shit. Trump will provide the smokescreen and cluster bombs of sheer lunacy — the Wall, immigration, martial law, taco truck bans, whatever — that will keep the tabloid & cable media in gear and the Gooper base ignorant. Since Trump doesn’t have the political will to oppose anything Congress wants, and no one in Congress has the political courage to do anything about Trump’s corruption, we’re in for a wild ride.

      It would be great if enough people — especially the majority who didn’t vote in 2016 and the majorities who oppose pretty much everything the radicals plan to do to them — eventually realize just how much the country and their own livelihoods are being destroyed and throw the bums out in 2018.
      Given all the opposing forces intent on keeping them stupid, and the ghastly piece of shit in the White House, I’m not too hopeful about that.

  • CP

    As I recall, Jacksonianism was basically “support the old-school, agrarian, feudal, slave-owning elites popular in the South over the modernist, capitalist, urban elites based in the North.”

    Most definitely compatible with modern conservatism.

    • Scott Lemieux

      You’ve got it!

      • Rob in CT

        200 damn years later…

    • tsam

      Don’t forget rocking the inspiration for Count Dracula’s hair.

      • davidsmcwilliams

        My first thought on this picture:

        “Oh, what a lovely portrait of Tarkin.”

    • wjts

      Most definitely compatible with modern conservatism.

      And yet we have at least one regular commenter who persists in thinking that that Jackson’s Bank Veto was an example of sticking it to the elites because it has the words “bank” and “veto” right next to one another.

      • CP

        I must not pay close enough attention. I don’t remember that one.

        The one good thing I can say for Jacksonians is that, IIRC, they were on board with universal white male suffrage, which as big a crock of shit as it may be, was still a step up from the “universal propertied white male suffrage” previous standard. Though I don’t think Andrew Jackson himself had anything to do with that; he was part of the phenomenon, not a prime mover behind it.

        • Mark Field

          Jackson was also anti-nullification and threatened to hang Calhoun.

          That’s about all the good you can say about him, though.

          • CP

            Oh, that’s right. I forgot about that. Okay, that goes into the “good” pile.

      • Nick056

        Not sure if you mean me, but while I wasn’t going to relitigate the Jackson debate here, now I can’t resist a comment. Essentially, I think Wilentz’s Rise of American Democracy has a lot of merit.

        The Jacksonian coalition had the Workies and the loco foco movement, including folks not much talked about like William Leggit, who were fully Jacksonian and also anti-slavery. And I think it’s worth remembering that men in Jackson’s “Kitchen Cabinet” like Amos Kendall and Francis Blair became conservative Republicans in the 50s (not to mention Van Buren running as a Free Soiler in 1848). Finally, Foner argues that Jacksonian Ohio Senator Thomas Morris helped make the term “Slave Power” popular and focused on slavery as early as ’39.

        And I reaaallly can’t get behind calling someone “comprehensively terrible” who first articulated many of the very pro-union arguments in the face of Southern nullification that Lincoln would later use (and credit!) in 1861.

    • guthrie

      The story of the last 300 years is the story of the old landed governing elites fighting the new money and trade elites, before realising that they can just marry each others children and have a gigantic merger of government and corporations.

      • CP

        Pretty much. I’ve often heard the conflict of Southern elites who started out as slave owners versus Northern elites who would become the robber-barons as being basically the American version of the “aristocracy vs bourgeoisie” conflict in Europe. In both cases, the twentieth century sees that conflict sort of fade into the background as the far more unacceptable danger of economic populism arises that both of them find unacceptable.

  • tonycpsu

    Trump hangs portrait of Andrew Jackson in Oval Office

    So… yeah, he’s not exactly trying to hide it, either. I wish liberal thinkpiece writers would stop trying to look for the nth-dimensional chess from a guy who couldn’t even compete in checkers without staffers moving the pieces for him.

    • El Guapo

      Only because Jackson is on money. Trump also wanted to hang a portrait of President Benjamin Franklin, but his staffers hid it.

    • Gee Suss

      “Cartoonish villain cartoonish, villainous”.

  • partisan

    I still think “Todays Republicans are yesterdays Jacksonians” is one of those clever Chaitian formulations that doesn’t stand close examination. Here are some things that complicate it that weren’t mentioned in last year’s post: (1) It wasn’t the New Deal and Arthur Schlesinger that confused everyone. We can go back at least to 1896. On what issue would McKinley be better for the left? (One might say civil rights, but despite undivided Republican control of government for 24 of the next 36 years, African-Americans got virtually nothing. Indeed it was this period when the Republicans accepted disfranchisement and Jim Crow and whose southern strategy was trying to find white people to vote for them.) (2) One clear continuity from the Whigs through the Republicans the 19th, 20th and 21st was evangelical moralism. And before the Kansas-Nebraska Act abolitionism was definitely the Sojourners to the Christian coalition of prohibition and anti-Catholicism. (3) Likewise, the Democrats were clearly the more pro-immigration of the two parties. (4) There were labor movements and populists through the 19th century. They clearly preferred Jackson to the Whigs. Was this just mass stupidity? Not really, since the Whig National Bank, whatever its merits, amounted to the government supporting a powerful financial institution, while insulating it from democratic control. (There’s also land policy, where Whigs and Republicans have a strong defense of land speculation.) (5) Conversely, there’s been a pro-Hamilton tendency on the left. Is is really so superior to the sentimental Jeffersonian/Jacksonians? Herbert Croly doesn’t seem much of a model to me. Hofstadter’s critique of the Populists in retrospect seems like a classic example of the limits of Stevesonian politics: Urban hauteur and questions of style ignoring questions of power. And clearly there is a neoliberal tendency in the media that thinks gay marriage is a perfectly acceptable trade off for the destruction of the American labor movement. (This isn’t a straw man: Martin Peretz does exist, he did make Andrew Sullivan his editor and one reason Nader did as well as he did in 2000 was that people like Peretz thought that liberals could be endlessly insulted and get nothing in return.) (6) I want to make a point about national parties. With the exception of Reconstruction and the diminishing returns of the New Deal coalition under Clinton and Obama, if you want to have a national party you have to make a deal with Southern elites. That’s of true of John Quincey Adams and Lincoln, as it is of true of TR and Eisenhower. Either you make the deal, you lose, you ignore them or you give up and think outside the box. Criticizing Van Buren and Douglas has to be put in this context. Since the Whigs only won the presidency twice and in awkward situations, we never got to see a Clay presidency. But Tyler, notwithstanding his incompetence, is clearly more representative of Southern Whigs than Tyler, who only lasted a year anyways. Good luck trying to base a progressive politics making deals with Alexander Stephens.

  • kped

    OT, but something Scott should appreciate:

    1) For not revealing that Richard Sherman’s leg is bothering him (an “injury” that caused him to miss no time, and he is even playing the pro bowl…), the Seahawks are likely to lose a 2nd round pick.

    2) For not following concussion protocol with Matt Moore when he was knocked out during a playoff game, the Miami Dolphins were just…publicly chided by the NFL. No further penalty.

    The NFL…they care!

    (I can’t quite understand why Sherman’s thing would even need to be disclosed. He played every game. Is it to allow teams to game plan and target a guy who *may* not be 100%? What a dumb rule.)

  • JdLaverty

    You know what might be a start is if the mainstream media stopped referring to trump as a Populist who Frightens the Establishment with his Populism. Somebody needs to get WaPo a copy of the Merriam-Webster before I read another article that makes me throw up in my mouth.

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