Friday, March 17, 2017

Jacksonian Trump

"And now we are free. I will see you again. But not yet...not yet."
--Juba (Gladiator)

Tom DiLorenzo discusses similarities between Andrew Jackson and Donald Trump. Since his inauguration, Trump has been connecting to Old Hickory. A few days after moving in, Trump hung a portrait of Jackson in the Oval Office. He recently visited Jackson's grave during a swing thru Tennessee. Trump likes to compare the populist movement that supported him to one that supported Jackson and infuriated the entrenched elites of Jackson's day.

Of course, even if they know nothing about Andrew Jackson, Trump's affinity for Old Hickory is enough to cause many NeverTrumpers to dislike Old Hickory.

On the other hand, some people who confess to knowing little about our seventh president might be drawn toward Jackson upon learning that today's statists, including those of the leftist history profession, tend to belittle Jackson.

Stated differently, if he was and still is regarded as an enemy of the State, then it can be surmised that Jackson was probably a pretty good president.

As recounted by Rothbard, Jacksonian populism favored free enterprise. It opposed subsidies and monopoly privileges doled out by government. It supported minimal government at federal and state levels.

Perhaps most importantly, Jacksonians were sworn enemies of central banking. They sought to separate government from the banking system, and to ditch inflationary paper money and fractional reserve banking in favor of gold/silver money and 100 percent reserves.

Jackson vetoed the recharter of the Second Bank of the United States and, in 1833, pulled all federal funds from this precursor to the Federal Reserve--thereby leading to its complete demise.

Not unexpectedly, Jackson's presidential tenure was not without warts. For example, he threatened the use of military force on states such as South Carolina who sought to nullify tariffs viewed as unfairly penalizing Southern trade. Statists, naturally, are prone to consider this as one of Jackson's few positives while in office.

Is Trump another Jackson? DiLorenzo notes some similarities. Trump has called for tax cuts, for firing thousands of government bureaucrats, and for stripping regulations from markets--all of which are consistent with the free enterprise, small government Jacksonian mentality. He has also spoken out against the Federal Reserve at times, although the extent to which he would act against the Fed is certainly questionable. Moreover, Trump seems to attract hatred from the entrenched Washington establishment to an extent similar to Jackson.

On the other hand, Trump is in favor of government sponsored infrastructure spending. Jackson opposed federal spending on such 'internal improvement' projects. Moreover, Jackson actually paid off the national debt--something no president has done since. Trump, with his grandiose spending plans, will likely avoid bringing up this fact when drawing self comparisons to Old Hickory.

DiLorenzo concludes that a good case can be made that Donald Trump is a Jacksonian. I agree that the degree of rancor that Trump has inspired among statists and Washington elites seems on par with Jackson. Trump also enjoys a populist backing that perhaps few presidents since Jackson have had. And, yes, Trump's early actions suggest he wants to shrink government bloat, regulation, and taxes.

However, Trump's stated positions on trade and on government-sponsored infrastructure spending are decidedly anti-Jacksonian. In addition, it will be interesting to see how Trump responds to crises that are certain to arise during his tenure. When the SHTF, Trump's small government Jacksonian side may take a powder.

Donald Trump as a modern day Andrew Jackson? Not yet...

positions in gold, silver

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