The GOP's future is Jacksonian, but Tom Cotton is no Andrew Jackson

He has the vision, but he won't make it to the promised land

Tom Cotton.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Getty Images, iStock)

On March 15, 1982, Ronald Reagan paid an official visit to the state of Tennessee. Upon landing, the president traveled directly to The Hermitage, Andrew Jackson's historic estate. After laying a wreath to commemorate the 225th anniversary of his predecessor's birth, Reagan delivered an address to a joint session of the state legislature. "In this time when we and our people are so severely tested," he told the audience, "it will help to remember the courage that President Jackson could summon from the convictions in his heart."

Last night, almost exactly 40 years later, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) appealed to Jackson in similar terms. Speaking at the Reagan Library in California, Cotton claimed Jackson as the guiding spirit of the GOP. Noting that former President Donald Trump also placed himself in Jackson's lineage, Cotton contended "that old Democrat" prefigures the Republican future. That may well be true, but it's far from clear Cotton himself will be able to get there.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us
Samuel Goldman

Samuel Goldman is a national correspondent at He is also an associate professor of political science at George Washington University, where he is executive director of the John L. Loeb, Jr. Institute for Religious Freedom and director of the Politics & Values Program. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard and was a postdoctoral fellow in Religion, Ethics, & Politics at Princeton University. His books include God's Country: Christian Zionism in America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018) and After Nationalism (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2021). In addition to academic research, Goldman's writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications.