Sunday, April 27, 2008


I have been thinking about my support for John McCain. What has attracted me to him? As a history teacher I have looked back for historical connections. While I have wanted the connections to be to great Americans, I have struggled. I have thought about various heroes but I haven't made the connection.

Finally, I have made the connection to someone we have in history. While I would have hoped that he would connect to Washington or Jefferson or some other superstar that isn't the case. American history is filled with people who we don't know, but who have shaped this country just as surely as those Founding Fathers we have always heard about. John Adams is a tempting choice and he is my favorite Founding Father. My admiration dates not from the miniseries, but from long before that. I have always admired those who are described as mavericks. Adams was certainly a maverick who was able to debate any point and didn't shrink from a fight. This is a man who when reading a book would write in the margins essentially arguing with the book. My kind of man!

But the comparison breaks off at one point. He wasn't a warrior. That doesn't in anyway, diminish his importance because Adams was the most important Founding Father. He fought the philosophical battle that needed to be fought. No one else could have done it. He was the conscience, the intellect, and the brains of the revolution.

McCain was a warrior. His philosophy was his action and his life. This being the case I have found a historical precedent. That would be Andrew Jackson. Jackson was a warrior with a plan. At the age of 14 he was assaulted by a British officer in the Revolutionary War for refusing to clean his boots. He bore the scar of this confrontation on his hand and head for the rest of his life. He carried with him a hatred of the British and the aristocracy throughout his life.

Jackson was not to be dominated again. This led him to the White House and immortality. He was a man who felt the fire and led his men. He led his country in a sometimes unpopular way, but he was a true leader. When it was all said and done, he was an eponymous leader who revolutionized the country. He was the first president who was a common man. He was a warrior who understood the use of power. For him philosophy didn't trump practicality. He got things done. I don't condone some of the things he did, but I also know he was a man of his time. He revolutionized America in his own way.

I think the most enduring accomplisment of his presidency was his refusal to give up executive power to the jucidiciary. Up to this time, presidents were wont to give the power position to the legislature. Jackson didn't buy the subservient position of the executive branch. He pioneered the strong executive, or the imperial presidency.

When confronted with a ruling concerning the Cherokees and their occupation of land in Georgia that gave the land back to the Cherokees, he stated "Mr. Marshall has made his ruling, now let him enforce it." Now that is not politically correct, but it does say that the executive branch is coequal to the judicial branch. Jackson pioneered the presidency as a powerful position and one that took on leadership of the country. He provided the model that persists to this day of a strong executive.



Average American said...

.....He was the first president who was a common man. He was a warrior who understood the use of power. For him philosophy didn't trump practicality.....

That sounds exactly like what we need right now!


Law and Order Teacher said...

Thanks for the visit. I am quite comfortable with the McCain/Jackson comparison. If McCain becomes the president Jackson was he will have done well for his country. Also Jackson left the presidency with the national debt retired. This was a goal of his presidency and led him to fight the legislature, most notably Henry Clay, about the rechartering of the National Bank in 1836. Quite a battle and quite an accomplishment.

Tapline said...

L&O Teach, Right now, I don't know how I feel about McCain. He never ceases to amaze me. I do not like his shooting off the cuff, then retracting,sort of, At his leisure. He's done the same thing with immigration, sort of, I am tired of sort of........It's sort of, which way is the wind blowing.......stay well....

Law and Order Teacher said...

Thanks for the visit. I'm not sure how I feel about McCain and the saga of the NC advertisement. He is in the position of being to say the ad was over the top, but still gain the benefit of it being on TV. So far so good. However, he needed to stop once his point was made. That's what made it seem he made a mistake. Hopefully, he will learn from this and stop while he's ahead. We'll see what his learning curve is.

Donald Douglas said...

That's a real good comparison ... I like Jackson and McCain!

The Vegas Art Guy said...

Very interesting comparison. I don't think I would have put those two together but the way you lay it out makes sense.

Anonymous said...

Jackson, like McCain, was considered a Washington outsider. Both also could become short when asked to "suffer a fool," but totally loyal to his friends, even to his own detriment.

I like you analogy, and I think 'ol Hickory would have like McCain as well.

Law and Order Teacher said...

Thanks for the visit. I thought it made sense.

Thanks for the visit. I think it is a history teacher thing. I thought long and hard about it and it made the most sense to me.

Thanks for the visit. Jackson and McCain have a lot in common. I agree that they would have seen eye to eye.

rightwingprof said...

Interesting. McCain reminds me of Teddy Roosevelt.

Law and Order Teacher said...

That's an interesting comparison. TR was a strong leader with a war record. I do think, however he was a bigger hawk than McCain, although not by much. Interesting.