September 11th, 2014

Jacksonian Americans

Ben Domenech thinks Americans have remained consistently Jacksonian:

Despite the opinion of elites on either extreme – whether motivated by humanitarian or democracy project aims – the fact is that, 13 years after 9/11, it’s remarkable how coherent and consistent the views of Americans really are. It’s the Obama view that is incoherent, bouncing between the sentiments of elites and uncomfortable in a position of leadership. Americans, for most of the 20th and 21st centuries, have been remarkably consistent in their views.

The American people are innately Jacksonian. They rejected the elite pushes on Syria and Libya for the same reason they now want to destroy ISIS – because they believe the purpose of the American military shouldn’t be to nation build or police countries, but to kill and destroy evildoers who threaten us and our interests. That’s why the humanitarian agenda and the democracy agenda couldn’t take hold in Syria – Assad was smart enough not to chop heads off Americans (that doesn’t make for good Vogue profile material, after all).

One of the problems with looking at it this way is that it takes an awful lot to wake the sleeping Jacksonian giant. An ounce or two of prevention of ISIS would have done a great deal a year ago, but not only was Obama not even remotely ready to do it, but were the American people ready to support bombing back then? I have my doubts. If groups such as ISIS have to metastasize in order to get our attention, and even then all we’re willing to support is air strikes, how Jacksonian is that?

Just to clarify: my “neocon” moniker does not mean I’m for war merely in order to effect regime change. I’ve explained what I mean by “neocon” in many previous articles, but the summary version is this:

(a) a newly-hatched conservative; and

(b) one who believes that liberal (in the classic sense) democracies, with protection of liberties and human rights, are the best form of government and should be promoted whenever possible and whenever the ground for them seems ripe for them. However, that promotion should only take the form of military action when our own security or that of our allies is profoundly threatened.

That last sentence makes me a Jacksonian.

25 Responses to “Jacksonian Americans”

  1. MollyNH Says:

    ” In 1814 we took a little trip along with Colonel jackson down the mighty Missa sip…..”
    I can still sing all the lyrics blaring from the kitchen radio dad had on as we got ready for school !!!!
    Great, great stories abound re Colonel Jackson !
    Though a Scot Irish protestant he spent the evening before battle in The Cathedral of St Louis in Jackson sq
    NOLA !!!! In prayer, of course, many of the truly great
    pray (no insult intended to atheists) opps Kissinger & Nixon exempted, LOL, but seriously prayer indicates humility always an awesome trait in a person of power!

  2. MollyNH Says:

    Opps Scot Irish by ethnicity, American of course by birth

  3. T Says:

    ” . . . liberal (in the classic sense) democracies, with protection of liberties and human rights, are the best form of government and should be promoted whenever possible . . . .”

    and on the classic sense it’s conservatives (as opposed to RINOs) who are the new liberals.

  4. T Says:


    Also I agree about being profoundly threatened. IMO, however, (and I hope you would agree) that a profound threat needn’t be already at our front door before we act.

  5. Don Carlos Says:

    It is far better to deal with threats before they become profound. Awaiting profundity is kicking cans down the road. One could indeed say that awaiting threats to become profound before responding is the essence of Obamaism. The other part of Obamaism is, of course, to do only something small and ineffectual, like the recent “bombings” of ISIS, in which we take out one humvee at a time. I obviously speak of his foreign, not domestic, approach.

  6. Don Carlos Says:

    MollyNH: insult atheists all you want, IMHO. They insult believers all the time.

  7. blert Says:

    From the Belmont Club:

    Leon Davis
    “Most everyone in the region [Muslim Middle East] thinks that ISIS is a creation of the Obama administration and that Obama is funneling weapons to ISIS through the FSA. [front, Ed.] It’s pretty obvious to everyone except members of the US mainstream media. ”

    In his pitch for $$$$ Barry Soetoro omitted recent history: that ISIS is routinely taking away all of the military assets that we’ve provided to “the moderates” — and under highly questionable circumstances.

    The FSA is a Western propaganda construct. No-one in the area actually calls themselves the FSA. It’s a FRONT. It actually has no military power. All it has is a press office, and some rented warehouse space/ some tents/ and cell phones.

    Its warehouses are ‘looted’ — all the way to the walls — by ISIS and al Nusrah.


    Consequently, Congress should take a hint from Europe and not authorize a dime for Barry’s proxy brigades.

    Stockman has it right: there’s not a chance in Hell that the Kurds or Shi’ites can deal with ISIS.

    The ONLY force that could — we (the administration) won’t talk to:

    Official DC is STILL stuck on the zany idea of restoring the European borders drawn through Araby.

    They’re gone.

  8. T Says:

    Don Carlos,

    I like to reduce it to a local level. If they come and invade my neighbor’s house down the street, I can’t say: “Well, it’s not my problem, it’s my neighbors problem.” If I don’t help defend my neighbor, soon there will be no neighbor’s left to help defend me. (This is what the hard-core Libertarians don’t understand).

    Indeed, this is precisely what Obama is finding out now about his coalition of the unwilling. Having sold most of our allies down the river, they’ll stand beside him in principle, but take a “You first” attitude when it comes to any material commitment. How can we blame them?

    BTW over at I saw a great headline for a Conor Friedersdorf essay:

    Obama urges war in Iraq despite known lack of WMDs

  9. kaba Says:

    We have invested almost 70 years to insure that Japan and Germany have a functional democracy. And almost 60 years doing the same for Korea. But the leftist have made such long term commitments impossible. We abandoned South Vietnam, Iraq, and soon Afghanistan after a heavy cost of blood and treasure.

    We’re no longer protected by large oceans and slow sailing ships. But I must admit that the Siren Song of isolationism beckons to me occasionally. I have four grandsons between the ages of 11 and 17. I do not want to see their blood shed on some battlefield that will result in another too soon abandoned and forgotten cause.

  10. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    I hope that Domenech is right and, I suspect most here are Jacksonian.

    “it takes an awful lot to wake the sleeping Jacksonian giant” neo

    It appears highly probable that the left is going to provide more than enough incentive to awaken America and then we shall see what percentage of Americans are Jacksonian.


    Better that some of your grandchildren give their life defending freedom than that all live under tyranny. I include my only child in that calculus as well.

    There are far worse things than an honorable death.

  11. kaba Says:


  12. kaba Says:


    We don’t disagree. Nothing would make me prouder than to have them serve this country in the military. Perhaps I didn’t make my point clearly. But I do not want their lives wasted on some cause that will be abandoned at the first sign of difficulty. Their blood, and that of all young Americans is far too precious for that.

    We owe it to all of the young who serve that their lives are not casually gambled. If we are to commit we must do so fully so that the price they pay will not be in vain. And we owe no less to those who would be our allies.

  13. chuck Says:

    George Kennan thought that democracy was culturally limited to northern Europe and it’s colonies. I don’t think he was wrong.

  14. Geoffrey Britain Says:


    I fully agree.


    At the least; Japan, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Greece, South Korea, and India would appear to threaten that assertion’s validity. However, it is at least somewhat cultural. The cultural ground must be fertile for democracy to take root.

    The World’s Democracies as rated by the Economist’s Intelligence Unit

  15. Maddog Says:

    In your neocon moniker do you really mean democracies or do you mean republics? I know none of the prior but many of the latter.

  16. carl in atlanta Says:

    Amen Molly. Another full-blown Scots-Irish Jacksonian here.

    Kick their freakin’ asses all the way down the Tigris AND Euphrates Rivers, down to the the Gulf of Persia-co!

  17. Geoffrey Britain Says:


    Can you fully separate a republic from a democracy? There may not have been a completely pure democracy since ancient Athens.

  18. G Joubert Says:

    “The last sentence makes me a Jacksonian”

    Jackson was a virulent racist, and racism drove many of his policies, with respect to indians, slaves, runaway slaves, and, basically, all nonwhites. I wouldn’t be signing onto any part of him.

  19. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “I wouldn’t be signing onto any part of him.”

    ALL bad, huh? No shades of grey? Do you apply the same calculus to Washington and Jefferson?

  20. Jon Jewett Says:

    Ah, yes. Look up “The Trail of Tears”. Jackson would be called the equal of the genocidal tyrant Milosevek when he (Jackson) ethnically cleansed the south of the Cherokee. In defiance of a Supreme Court decision. It is a proud Democrat tradition followed by Roosevelt when he ethnically cleansed the United States of the Japanese. Trashing the Constitution, it’s a Democrat thing.

  21. maddog Says:

    Geoffrey Britain,
    Yes. Read Viroli, Republicanism if you cannot. At 144 pages, it is a slim well written analysis of Classical Republicanism and a strong argument for our returning to such and the current problems modern republics face.

    It is one of the books you must read (like Eric Hoffers, The True Believer) to understand the world today.

    Happy reading.

    Mark Sherman

  22. chuck Says:

    I think `Jacksonian` refers to Jackson’s courage and pugnacity as representative of the scotch-irish. Jackson had both traits in abundance. And of course, the indians themselves engaged in imperial adventures and cleansing. See, Iroquois and Comanche. Different times, different culture, different norms.

  23. carl in atlanta Says:

    G Joubert:

    Andrew Jackson was not a nice man, but the term “Jacksonian”, when applied to attitudes about politics, democracy and war is not so much about him personally as it is about the traditional attitude toward such things in the Scots Irish culture in America. See James Webb’s Born Fighting.

  24. MollyNH Says:

    I agree Carl,& Chuck it s about his attitude, pugnacity & self assurance. He was not perfect but a man of his times.
    True the native Americans are offended by him & his role in displacing them but there is little we can do about that now. Most white Europeans had volatile relationships with Native Americans after all there was a French & Indian war. (a 2 fer I guess)
    Sadly though the trail of tears was a big injustice.
    I hate to make the suggestion but may be the native Americans need a *grievence group* like afro americans & hispanics.

  25. Blake Says:

    Jacksonian in this context is well described and framed by Walter Russell Meade in his 2006 book, Special Providence. I recommend his analysis of the four approaches to foreign policy that characterizes American foreign policy, Jacksonian, Hamiltonian, Jeffersonian and Wilsonian.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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