Lots of theories have been floated to explain the rise of Donald Trump, but NPR's Steve Inskeep floats one of the more interesting ones Wednesday in a New York Times column: Trump is channeling Andrew Jackson. It may not be intentional, but Trump shares many of the same traits that propelled Jackson into the White House, observes Inskeep. And he isn't merely referring to memorable hair, real estate riches, national celebrity (Jackson's from his stint as a general in the War of 1812), a penchant for self-aggrandizement (Jackson is credited with the first campaign biography), or a willingness to place the interests of white Americans over those of minority groups (Jackson exiled American Indians to the West).
No, "what Mr. Trump borrows from Jackson is not an issue, but a way of thinking about the world," writes Inskeep. "Trump promises to fix his supporters’ problems, no matter who else is hurt. He’s a wealthy celebrity always ready for a fight, a superpatriot who says he will make America great again. He vows to attack government corruption and defend the common man." The same applies to Jackson, who, like Trump, enjoyed his greatest support in Appalachia, with its generally rural, white, and conservative electorate. Of course, times have changed, and Trump would have to greatly add to this core base in a way that Jackson did not if he hopes to enter the White House. Click to read the full column (and to see a sketch of Jackson in a "Make America Great Again" hat).