Jared Kushner Is a Know Nothing – Not Just Because He has Failed on so Many FrontsRoundup
tags: immigration, Nativism, anti-catholicism
Sidney Blumenthal is the author of All the Powers of Earth 1856-1860, the third of his five-volume biography, The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln, and a former adviser to President Bill Clinton and to Hillary Clinton
The symmetries between the past Kushner seeks to exploit and the discreditable present are striking. If there is any resemblance of the Trump mutation of the Republican party to any actual party in the election of 1856 it is not to the Republicans. Nor is it to the Democrats. Rather, it is to the third party in that campaign, the American party, also known as the Know Nothings, who also had a concise platform.
The original American party sought to protect the purity of white native-born Protestants from the first great wave of immigration to the United States, which consisted mostly of the Irish and Germans, and to stigmatize a subversive religion.
“Americans must rule America,” its platform proclaimed. Only native-born citizens should be allowed to hold any public office, federal, state or municipal. Catholics, described in the category of those pledging “allegiance or obligation of any description to any foreign prince, potentate or power”, were to be proscribed.
The Know Nothings emerged from the crack-up of the Whig party over the issue of the extension of slavery in the territories. Most regarded themselves as Old Whigs, “conservatives in principle” in the words of their party platform. Their standard-bearer was Millard Fillmore, the last Whig president, a decorous figurehead. The Democrats nominated James Buchanan, a northern man of southern sympathy, a distinguished former senator from Pennsylvania, the crucial swing state.
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