Salena Zito | Andrew Jackson falls from progressives’ favor

Jackson’s election ushered America into the age of  participatory politics: Before him, only 20 to 30 percent of the eligible  population voted; after him — and for the next 70 years — 70 to 80 percent of the electorate often turned  out, Nichols explained.

In fact, the Democratic Party was created to help  Jackson gain the presidency.

With Jackson in the White House, politics would  never be the same in America, much to the chagrin of his well-bred opponents.

Jackson brought to the presidency the fierce,  liberty-loving values of those who settled Appalachia. He preferred to allow  state governments to handle many public affairs, rather than expanding the size  and scope of the federal government.

As a pragmatist, however, he simultaneously felt  the federal government could play a constructive — if limited — role in  mediating conflict between the people and the moneyed classes, Nichols said.

Jackson concluded that the federal government  could be a force for good, serving as a counterweight to men of great wealth, as  long as it paid for its expenses as it went, did not play favorites or pick  winners, and equally spread its blessings upon all.

A frugal man, he practiced what he preached: He  was the last American president to ensure that the country paid off its national  debt.

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