Salena Zito

He points to a sense that those elites too often favored friends and family through such means as a national bank or government patronage. “And that they thought they were better than everyone else.”

Sound familiar?

“The Jacksonian Democrats of today are represented in the more highly frustrated elements of the electorate,” says Keystone College history professor Jeff Brauer.

In the past, Jacksonian Democrats could be found among Reagan Democrats and Ross Perot independents. Today, elements of Jacksonian democracy are found in the dissatisfaction of blue-collar Democrats and in the disenchantment of independents, both of whom believed they voted for change in 2008.

“While it is not a perfect correlation, it is in the Tea Party movement where the strongest connections to Jacksonian democracy are seen,” Brauer says.

What bonds the Tea Party movement with Jacksonian Democrats is the charge against political and economic elites, Washington and Wall Street insiders; nothing could be more Jacksonian than that.

Along Washington Road in downtown East Liverpool, a handful of antique shops sit in the shadow of the majestic Potters Savings & Loan, now a PNC bank branch. People wandering in and out of stores are eager to share their thoughts about how Washington has treated them but are reluctant to share their names.

Their bottom line: They are far from satisfied with their own political party.

“The Washington Democratic narrative is that the populists are a bunch of hate-filled, ignorant yahoos clinging to their God and guns in tough times,” says Maranto. “That is not accurate, nor is it helpful.”

All along the “blue highways” of the Rust Belt from Pennsylvania to Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri, many Democrats say they are looking for a better approach to smarter, more responsible, accountable government than they have seen from the Obama administration.

The Jim Swogers of America, who work hard and play by the rules, may not be Tea Partiers, but their votes will be just as potent – perhaps more so – for Democrats in November.


Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.