Barack Obama is Andrew Jackson is Sarah Palin…

Someone alert Sean Wilentz!

Dirty politics, populism, an outsider struggling to succeed the unpopular son of a president: there are more than a few coincidental echoes of the Age of Jackson in this season. The challenges he faced resonate in our own age. He believed the financial sector of the American economy was spoiled, corrupt and bad for the overall health of the nation

Jon Meecham may or may not be a smart dude – I have my opinions – but it is inane shit like this this that gets my blood boiling about history & the popular press:

Before Jackson, it was possible to think of America without putting the people at the center of politics; after him, such a thing was inconceivable.

This discounts a couple of important people – namely George Washington and Thomas Jefferson – from the picture. For example, nationalists before, during and after the Washington adminstration sought to associate the nation – i.e. America – with Washington as a prop to a very unsteady national project. [1] Jeffersonians did a similar thing with their man. Of course, this does not discount the importance to Jackson to American nationalism [2] but instead Meecham here isn’t paying fair with the historical record in order to make his point.

And that’s bad history.

Notes:

[1] See: Francois Furstenberg, In the Name of the Father: Washington’s Legacy, Slavery, and the Making of a Nation

[2] For competing views of Jackson see: Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy & David Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought

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