The Party of Jefferson and Jackson without Mr. Jackson
“I am a Democrat but largely because I was born a Democrat. It was passed down by my father.”
– East Liverpool, OH Mayor James Swoger. (HT: Selena Zito)
The Democratic Party has been in business for nearly as long as The United States has been in business independently, rather than as a subsidiary of Great Britain, Inc. It has succeeded to continue on, despite its recent Post WW II, Leftist deracination. It has done so as an alliance between intellectual (Jeffersonian) thinkers and proletariat, salt-of-the-Earth working people. These working Americans are the Jacksonians.
This alliance gave the Democrats a powerful combination of weapons with which they could bludgeon foes. The Jeffersonian Wing gave the party a sense of intellectual engagement and ideological “fashion.” It kept them on the cutting edge of modernity.
The Jacksonians gave them things more visceral, real, and emotional. The Jacksonians came to be legion. They gave the Democrats a quantity that is a quality all its own. They gave the party grounding in reality. They gave it something else, more important. They gave the Democratic Party a culture and a soul. Norman Rockwell painted Jacksonian Democrats.
Now the Jeffersonians have deliberately attenuated that connection between the two. They now seem embarrassed to have Jacksonians around the table at The Annual Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner. People with a culture and a soul cling to things. They are the Grass Roots to whom intelligent leaders of political movements needed to carry their message. But as Walter Russell Mead points out in his famous essay “The Jacksonian Tradition,” they do certain things that quite frankly scare the modern incarnation of the Jeffersonian Democrat.
It is often remarked that the American people are more religious than their allies in Western Europe. But it is equally true that they are more military-minded. Currently, the American people support without complaint what is easily the highest military budget in the world.
The Jacksonians are not Globalists or in any way Multi-culti. They are saddened and disaappointed with The New Left precisely because they are an accumulation point and a storehouse of American Folk Tradition and Culture. From George Wallace to H. Ross Perot to the Tea Party Movement of today, they are exasperating to the fashionable and chic intelligentsia of the coastal citadels of elitism.
They trust Wall Street as much as they trust Congress about as much as they Trust the Politburo of The Chinese Communist Party. They trust them all exactly zero and for the same reason in each case. To hard-working Jacksonians with sore backs and greasy hands; none of these people have any legitimate belief, soul or skin in the game of life. They don’t inhabit what many Jacksonians describe parochially as the “real” America.
Thus the Jacksonians can only maximize the benefit and minimize the harm of being forced to share a planet with all of these iniquitous jerks. This leads them to an agenda that confounds the non-Jacksonian. Walter Russell Mead describes some aspects of it below.
Suspicious of untrammeled federal power (Waco), skeptical about the prospects for domestic and foreign do-gooding (welfare at home, foreign aid abroad), opposed to federal taxes but obstinately fond of federal programs seen as primarily helping the middle class (Social Security and Medicare, mortgage interest subsidies), Jacksonians constitute a large political interest.
Some of this is Democrat, some Republican, and a lot of it will no longer work in the post-2008 Recession World. There are the Democrats who consider the Jacksonians whining brats and “bitter clingers who hang on to their Bibles and guns.” The contempt that the Liberal Democrats feel for these people is something you could cut and spread with the wrong edge of a knife.
This gives the GOP a major opportunity in 2012. We see this as a Republican Candidate comes closer to winning a Governor’s Race in West Virginia than any Republican has come since Lyndon Johnson was King. We see it when Mo Brooks wins the 5th Alabama Congressional District for the GOP. He is the first Republican to win a seat from Northern Alabama since Reconstruction. We see this when Rick Boucher loses his quasi-feudal sinecure in the Virginia Appalachians.
What we see here is the changing landscape of things when the Party of Jefferson and Jackson no longer has Mr. Jackson watching their backs. The last bastions of so-called “Yellow Dog Democrats” will fall hard. Yet they will fall. The intensity of resentment kindled by the off-handed contempt which the New Left shows for American tradition and folk wisdom will kill them off.
The Republicans must be ready to offer an alternative to these people and show them more respect than they see from the likes of David Brooks and John Derbyshire. This may become a moral challenge that accompanies a new generation of the GOP into power.