When Donald Trump entered the White House, he had a portrait of Andrew Jackson hung in the Oval Office, a way for one populist to pay homage to another one. The gesture was no doubt welcomed by many of Trump’s supporters in Louisiana, where Jackson is widely revered for winning the Battle of New Orleans as a military general in 1815.
That victory over the British, which helped put Jackson in the White House, is remembered each year through a reenactment at Chalmette Battlefield, but plans for this month’s program have been scrambled by the partial shutdown of the federal government. The Chalmette historical site is operated by the National Park Service, which is essentially closed for business while Trump bickers with Congress over funding for a border wall with Mexico — a project candidate Trump repeatedly promised during the campaign that Mexico would pay for.
Security is important, but key parts of the border are already protected by a wall. As the shutdown languishes in its third week, and the Chalmette Battlefield is closed, local residents will do a scaled-down version of the reenactment of the Battle of New Orleans near a Walmart Supercenter.
Because of a lack of government funding, the cannon blasts from the Battle of New Orleans will be staged this year next to a Walmart Supercenter.
In the shadow of everyday lower prices, history lovers will now get to see what government on the cheap looks like. It won’t be a tragedy, but the comical expedient of evoking the Battle of New Orleans a stone’s throw from Walmart will provide, we suspect, yet another reminder of the absurdity this shutdown has become.
The populism that Jackson championed — and which Trump professes to embrace — is supposed to be guided by a sympathy for rank and file citizens. How average Americans are served by closed parks, shuttered agencies and unpaid security workers at major airports is a mystery to us.
Jackson, a Democrat, is at least one member of the opposing party Trump hasn’t shunned. It’s not the kind of bipartisanship that’s going to end this shutdown, but at least it’s a start.