For starters, he was principled, fearless, and astute. And Washington, D.C., never trusted him, because he knew the real source of America’s greatness.
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As for Bennett, Jackson would shed not a tear over the abrupt end of his Senate career at the hands of the Tea Party in 2008. That’s precisely how American democracy is supposed to work, he would say, dismissing the expressions of sadness and puzzlement that emanated from so many denizens of the Washington establishment.
TURNING TO WALL STREET, Jackson would go crazy at the sight of the coziness that has developed between the country’s financial center and its government. He would go after that relationship like Beowulf after Grendel. He would dismiss the Dodd-Frank regulation bill as feckless — attempting to address the financial crisis by increasing federal meddling while leaving intact the fundamental problem of “too big to fail.” He would seek to smash the big banks into smaller entities and then get government out of their way. Once that was accomplished, he wouldn’t worry about executive pay, a sideshow issue in comparison to Wall Street’s capture of Treasury and the Fed. He would expel Wall Street henchmen from the government, particularly if they came from Goldman Sachs.
On the looming financial crisis stemming from funding liabilities in major entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, Jackson would level with the American people in stark terms. The programs are going under, and they’re going to bring down America with them, he would say. Get with the program or get used to the withering attacks he would unleash.
On foreign policy, Jackson would argue that America must play a significant role in the world. We are a great nation and must stand tall. But he would warn against getting involved in unnecessary wars unrelated to vital American interests. And he would ferociously attack anyone who suggested, for example, that opposition to America’s Libyan adventure amounted to isolationism. He would insist on reasonable and accurate terms of debate.
Corporate welfare in all its forms; high taxes that thwart economic activity and entrepreneurialism; persistent deficit spending; the bloated federal government; intrusions from Washington great and small into the lives of citizens; petty corruption in legislative activity; unnecessary and dangerous military ventures — all would come under Jackson’s damning political assault. Then he would take his program to the American people, let the chips fall, and rise or fall on his principles. This approach worked with the Bank of the U.S. back in the 1830s. Perhaps it will reemerge as the country’s dominant political force in the 2010s.