Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Andrew Jackson and the Civil War, Trump's view

We have a real problem here in this country that is becoming more obvious and more pronounced, if that were possible. Donald J. Trump, President of the United States of America, does not know fifth grade history.  From my hometown as the proclaimed "Last Capital of the Confederacy" it was first grade history but that is another story.

In one of his constant interviews and commentaries yesterday, he viewed Andrew Jackson, seventh President of the United States, as someone whom he admired and who opposed the Civil War and wanted to stop it.  This is simply bizarre.  That is mixing different eras.  Mixing all history is the same mush as mixing health care initiatives, foreign policy practices, the history of other nations and on and on.  President Trump is an illiterate man by the standards of any basic education.  His resentment of others with any view of his particular dysfunction is viscerally hostile some could say, but his way of using this as a way of identification with his base has worked, whether that is brilliant or just an intuitive identification with a television dulled culture is for others to decide.

There is no simple answer.  Maybe just one.  His election had absolutely nothing to do with political parties, congressmen or congresswomen, senators, or major ad campaigns.  It was simply a gut check reaction by many who felt that they were abandoned or had nothing to lose.  The abandoned can include a portion of the immensely wealthy who feel the never requited need for personal confirmation of their worth, like Schwartzman for good reason, and to some of the middle class and borderline lower middle class who are exhausted with their decline. The "nothing left to lose" are those whose cultural identity has been eroded to the point where the once and still voter substantial  "white middle class" had begun to seem like a loser term in their lives. Their station in life has been diminished, everything from their local prejudices, regional ambitions, social networks, and philanthropic leadership have been wiped out by a wealth hierarchy in all but the smallest of towns.  All of this is complicated, but the "left out" is simple.

Growing up in a modest sized town that was petri dish where every strata of society was visible and for the most part either embraced or accepted and, while not being at top of it, I have always felt that all of this society can evolve and be understood.  The election of Donald Trump throws that into doubt.  He is "reinforcing the negative" with his unseemly description of  "American carnage" in his inauguration speech and the graphic tales that he provided on the steps of the Capital.  Any "accentuate the positive" only deals with himself.

Calls to action on issues like climate change and women's recognition and the importance of scientific facts are laudable, but Trump must adapt to the real world or go. See Evan Osnos in this week's New Yorker on how that, however unlikely, could happen.


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