Comparing Trump, Fillmore, two unpopular presidents
Donald Trump and Millard Fillmore ... other than being presidents of the United States, didn’t have much in common, except good hair and serious expressions in their photographs.
Millard Fillmore was a self-made man, a lawyer, who rose politically in the traditional manner. He was a state legislator, then U.S. representative, then vice president and finally president, when Zachary Taylor died. He became president when the conflict over the expansion of slavery divided the country bitterly. He signed the Fugitive Slave Act and oversaw the compromise of 1850, which delayed the Civil War, but didn’t avoid it. He gets credit for sending Commodore Perry to Japan. He also helped found UB and was its first administrator. Historians generally rank him near the bottom of our presidents, which is perhaps unfair as the conflict over slavery was probably insoluble.
What reminds me of Donald Trump was Millard Fillmore’s campaign for president as a third-party candidate of the Whig and (anti-immigrant) Know-Nothing parties in 1856. He came in third, didn’t even win in his hometown – Buffalo. Mark Goldman in his interesting history of Buffalo, “High Hopes,” opines that the issue of slavery overshadowed Fillmore’s campaign and caused his defeat.
Donald Trump rose to the presidency as a “birther” denying that Barack Obama was born in the United States. He called Mexicans, drug dealers and rapists. He said that a wall between Mexico and the U.S. (paid for by Mexico) would protect us. He proposed a temporary ban on Muslims emigrating to the U.S. In 10 months, his inflammatory tweets have divided our country, reminding me of the lead-up to the Civil War.
His approval rating is 33 percent, which doesn’t seem to bother him. He knows nothing, in my opinion.
The opposition Democratic Party struggles to present an alternative to the erratic, flailing President Donald J. Trump.