The age of Trump
© Greg Nash

Last week in South Carolina, former President George W. Bush gave one of the greatest speeches I have ever heard, campaigning against hope for brother Jeb, but it was too late and not enough. It might be seen in history to be a final cry; the death knell of the Eastern Establishment, as South Carolina and the Western states turn from the Bush family to Republican presidential candidate Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpIran claims it rejected Trump meeting requests 8 times ESPY host jokes Putin was as happy after Trump summit as Ovechkin winning Stanley Cup Russian ambassador: Trump made ‘verbal agreements’ with Putin MORE.

ADVERTISEMENT
"The split between an aggrieved GOP base — the betrayed — and the party's leaders dominates the Republican presidential race," Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard, wrote last week in The Wall Street Journal. "It has turned televised debates into brawls. And it threatens to prevent Republicans from winning the presidency that otherwise might be theirs."

I've been saying here for years now — about since Sarah Palin appeared on the scene — that we enter today a new age of Jackson, "the rustic warrior from Tennessee who first fired up the common folk west of the New River and laid their claim to governance. He is much misunderstood and occasionally maligned, but Jackson might well be considered the spirit father of the current red-state uprising."

Today, others, including Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review, are beginning to agree. And NPR's Steve Inskeep wrote recently in The New York Times, "Donald Trump's secret? Channeling Andrew Jackson."

"Consciously or not, Mr. Trump's campaign echoes the style of Andrew Jackson," wrote Inskeep, "and the states where Mr. Trump is strongest are the ones that most consistently favored Jackson during his three runs for the White House."

There still may be time. Something else may still be ahead, but I doubt it. A Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s walk-back fails to stem outrage on Putin meeting The Memo: Trump allies hope he can turn the page from Russian fiasco Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash MORE-Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyOvernight Defense: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | GOP looks to reassure NATO | Mattis open to meeting Russian counterpart Dem pollster: Haley would be 'very strong' presidential candidate Watchdog: First lady spokeswoman may have violated Hatch Act with ‘MAGA’ tweet MORE 2016 ticket could bring it all back home to a commonsense tradition of conservatism; the "new face of conservatism," Gov. Haley (S.C.) well called it in endorsing Sen. Rubio (Fla.). Traditionalists should gather round quickly if they want to effectively contend, as no one else on the stage quite fills the bill.

Rubio-Haley brings in a healthy new generational approach. They are not instinctively alienated by new thinking and form a bridge between the traditions and the new ideas, whereas Trump does not. His thinking is idiosyncratic, I would say, although I get no comprehensive understanding of his positions and think there may be none, as much of what he says appears to be random, reactionary, raw and spontaneous, carried to public dominance only through the alpha-dog gene.

But so Jackson was raw, spontaneous and iconoclastic, intent first on cleaning out the stables and driving out the old generations. In this, Trump proves effective as well. Like Jackson, he scares the pants off them.

"I feel much alarmed at the prospect of seeing General Jackson President," Thomas Jefferson said. "He is one of the most unfit men I know of for such a place. His passions are terrible. When I was President of the Senate, he was Senator; and he could never speak on account of the rashness of his feelings. I have seen him attempt it repeatedly, and as often choke with rage. He is a dangerous man."

It has a familiar ring again today. But conservatives today might recognize that they now have the advantage. They have finally broken the binding, inhibiting, calcified bonds of the nostalgic past which were suffocating them, and come out of it to the new light of dawn — while the Democrats are still stuck with the Sixties-era Clintons, who despised the old when they were young and now that they are old, dislike the young. The young have turned en masse to the grandfatherly Vermonter, Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersElection Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas House Dems launching Medicare for All Caucus Let's remove the legal shield from hackers who rob us of our civil rights MORE, well impressed by his principled character and resolute determination.

If Trump takes the day, and at the moment it appears that he very well could, it might be useful to understand what happened in America in the Jacksonian period. It was an exciting time as America and the South in particular pressed across the frontier to Texas and Mexico and arrived at the Alamo in 1836.

Remember the Alamo, as it is a kind of creation story of the first days of Texas and the West and occurred in the latter days of the Jacksonian insurgency. But in the later 1800s, strength through immigration and industry would advance in the Northeast and a new vision of the "Eastern Establishment" would awaken with the phrase "Our country is the world — our countrymen are all mankind" on the masthead of William Lloyd Garrison's The Liberator.

This new establishment would indeed dominate America and press on to run the world, as it does even until today. Or maybe until just last week, the final days; an end-of-days marked by W.'s speech, marking the end of the last archetypal Yankee dynastic reign, that of Prescott Bush, his son H.W. and his grandsons W. and Jeb.

Remember the Alamo. Because this time as population and prosperity arise in the West and the heartland, the resources may not be so readily available to the Eastern Establishment — into exile now — to rise up again and take it back.

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at quigley1985@gmail.com.