Barack Obama Compared to Andrew Jackson
January 28, 2008
by William P. Meyers

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You might think it makes sense to compare to Barack Obama, contender for the Democratic Party's nomination for President, with Andrew Jackson, the first President who was a member of the Democratic Party. Barack Obama inspires the same great hopes in his followers that Andrew Jackson did almost 2 centuries ago.
Or if you know a little more about Andrew Jackson, for instance that his wealth came partly from slavery (not just working slaves on his plantation, but actively trading them and even breaking up African-American families to make a profit), you might think this essay will show how far the Democratic Party has come since it was the party first of slavery, then of the Confederacy, and then of segregation.
But despite some substantial policy and personality differences, Barack Obama and Andrew Jackson are similar in the way they campaign(ed). Just as Jackson's followers were surprised at his actions in the White House, so Obama's followers may be surprised if their leader ever makes it to the White House.
Andrew Jackson was made of sterner stuff than Barack Obama. He started killing men early. He killed white gentlemen for disagreeing with him and he killed Indians because he wanted their land. In the course of killing people, during the War of 1812, after killing some Indians who were defending their land and ancient way of life, he found himself in command of what passed for a U.S. army in the Battle of New Orleans. He did not really win the battle, and in fact almost lost it because he failed to allocate proper strength to his right wing across the river, but the British took some heavy losses and retreated. The war, as every schoolchild knows, was actually already over, the peace treaty had been signed, but communications were so slow back then that it took weeks for the news of peace to spread to the far-flung armies.
Around that time and into the 1820's  there was a lot of popular discontent with the old Republican or Anti-Federalist party that controlled Washington. In addition, especially in the frontier states, most white men were becoming able to vote (originally, in most states, only wealthy white men were allowed to vote). The only thing most of these newly enfranchised farmers and workers knew about Andrew Jackson was that he "won the Battle of New Orleans." A new political party of "outs" was coalescing. They choose Andrew Jackson as their Julius Caesar. To the wealthy eastern elite Jackson and his followers, this new Democratic Party, seemed as dangerous as the revolutionaries of Republican France.
In fact, Jackson did little or nothing for his followers except to give appointments to lucrative civil service offices to some who had been prominent in his campaign. His inner circle were men who were rich and powerful. Jackson continued ruling class policies: slavery, confiscation of Indian land, and a legal system that prioritized private property above civic responsibility.
Thus a dangerous moment in American history, for the ruling class, was turned to greater profit.
I don't think Barack Obama has ever killed anyone, which I suppose is a plus. I believe that he started as an activist working for the people; he was one of them. But I see little in his public service that indicates he is a catalyst of change. He has not caused any problems for the U.S. ruling class during his career as Senator. In fact he does not seem to have caused any problems for anyone at anytime.
Barack's campaign is all about hope and change, it is emotionally charged and it has swept up the gullible. But from my point of view he has failed every key litmus test:
1. He joined a party with a history of crimes against humanity and war crimes.
2. He has not pissed off anyone important during his term as Senator.
3. He has not made a serious effort to stop the war from within the Senate.
So all I can see clearly is that he is not George W. Bush. Which is the American tradition: change the officeholders, maybe even change the rhetoric, but keep the system intact.
Now that does not mean that he might not be a Harry Truman (the good Truman, not the war criminal who ordered atomic weapons dropped on the Japanese). He might be better in office than his past behavior would lead me to expect.
Change for the good requires backbone and a bit of aggressiveness and willingness to upset the applecart. I see none of those qualities in Barack Obama.
I think there is a 98% chance that the Obama campaign is all about jive. Going to really screw the oppressed? A sector of the cynical ruling elite might just think that is best done in black face.


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