Heather Cox Richardson, in her daily column, put the 2020 election in the context of the history of our two political parties.
She began with Andrew Jackson’s recreation of the Democratic Party – making it a party of ordinary people fighting against the wealthy; a party that evolved into a party of the wealthy southern planters which was ultimately defeated in the Civil War. It b party represented became the party of FDR working on behalf of the ordinary people struggling against the wealthy. She described the Republican Party that was created in reaction to the Democrats as the party of the wealthy southern planters. Set on its course by Abraham Lincoln, the Republican Party was designed to help Americans focus together on solving problems based on common values and common goals – even if they had to fight a war to ensure that that was what the country would be. Cox Richardson suggested Lincoln and those who followed saw society as a web of connections.
She described Trump as an aberration, as unprecedented. I’m not convinced. There is precedent. Little as he knows about history, Trump grasps some similarities between himself and Andrew Jackson. Trump sees the world as divided. He sees himself as representing ordinary people (ordinary white people) who have been done in by the educated elite and by minorities who, when they succeeded, did so because they were helped unfairly by the government. This has a Jacksonian quality to it. This Jacksonian quality is why Trump resonates for so many.