You wouldn't think a hit Broadway show would be a pop-emo musical about Andrew Jackson, played as if Jackson had the looks and sex appeal of Jim Morrison combined with the soul of Karl Rove. Or that it would be about our political predicament today.
I saw the show last night and it's amazingly good, raucous, and, in my opinion, terribly sad. (My 20-year-old cousin is one of the amazing talents in it).
Despite the terrific pounding musical score (the actors,and band are fantastic), this show is really about the moment America went off the rails. Andrew Jackson was the first major American political figure whose career was based on building that fake kind of class resentment that predominates today -- upside-down class resentment designed to rip us all off to put money in the bank accounts of the real elites.
Jackson hated the people in Washington (and Indians and blacks) and got his followers to believe that the only thing standing in the way of their "taking their country back" was by replacing the old political order with people whose sole qualification for office was hating the existing order. And knowing nothing about governance.
Jackson believed in the innate smarts of the people, so long as they (in their ignorance) endorsed his disastrous schemes (like Indian genocide, slavery, and eliminating the Bank of the United States -- that last led directly to the economic crash of 1837).
In fact, as the show points out, it didn't matter what Jackson believed so long as he pitted himself against those more educated and serious politicians who actually believed the federal government could do some good.
The sheer brilliance of this show is that it gets that American politics is essentially a repulsive cartoon, one in which buffoons appeal to the basest instincts and win. "The people" in the show's point of view are morons and will choose morons to represent them. Morons R Us.
Harsh, yes. But as we wait for the Nov. 2 election, we see that the show's creators have it right. Unfortunately, however, we don't live on stage. Faux-populism is about to run us over. Thanks, Andy Jackson.
And thanks to the people who created this show for making the impending disaster so amazingly entertaining!
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