What a mess. Our nation is being torn apart by a Congress hellbent on having enemies, getting revenge, and doing nothing. Congress faces two wars (Ukraine and Gaza) and has a deadline for preventing the shutdown of the government, and that’s just two of the divisive issues. As a nation we are facing division we do not know how to heal. Even more troubling, we have politicians whose very existence depends upon not healing our alienation from one another.
It’s tiresome listening to half-baked members of Congress telling us, “I know what is best for you.” Marjorie Greene Taylor never met a conspiracy theory that didn’t turn her on. What possible good accrues to the American people having a member of Congress whose only purpose in life is to grab headlines, try to impeach the president, and sees Jewish space lasers as a national security risk?
Rep. Nancy Mace and seven Republican men, call them Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, decided it would be a good time to remove a Speaker of the House for the first time in American history. I suppose the Snow-White trope breaks down since Mace wore a white T-shirt with a scarlet “A” on the front. Maybe she never read the book.
After rejecting numerous candidates for the Speaker of the House, Republicans finally picked Louisiana’s own “Maga-Junior” – Rep. Mike Johnson. This is nothing more than the attempt to put a gold ring in a pig’s snout. Johnson is like spraying deodorant on the garbage heap.
A Revival of Traditional Values
America needs a breath of fresh air, even a blast from the past. The revival of the traditional virtues of the Great Depression” is grounded in honorable principles. In the 1930’s, as the American people tried to dig out of the Great Depression, there were certain values that provided the needed strength of character to enable our survival: mutuality, compassion, sharing, understanding, and empathy.
These so-called “traditional values” were prevalent in the movies, especially movies directed by Frank Capra. In his classic movies, from Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) through Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Capra celebrated the virtue of ordinary Americans.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a 1939 American political comedy-drama film directed by Frank Capra, starring Jean Arthur and James Stewart, and featuring Claude Rains and Edward Arnold. The film is about a newly appointed United States Senator who fights against a corrupt political system”.
Call me sentimental if you like, but someone needs to go to Washington, not as insurrectionist, but as change agent.
Huey Long Goes to Congress
Not content to resurrect traditional values, I propose also to disinter another voice from our past: Louisiana’s Huey Long. If we are going to populate Congress with neo-Populists, why not send a real Populist?
Don’t be fooled by the rhetorical extravagances of the “Kingfish”. Huey Long was Donald Trump before Donald Trump in a number of rhetorical techniques, but he was not like Donald Trump politically. Robert Ivie exposes Trump’s con: “His act is political theater that stymies rather than presages positive change. In other words, Donald Trump is not a populist, but he plays one on television. Huey Long was an actual populist.
Don’t be turned off by Long’s rhetorical gestures that endeared him to common people. His rhetorical excesses carried out the instructions of Flannery O’Connor. In Mystery and Manners, O’Connor recommends to aspiring writers, “When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs you do, you can relax a little and use more normal means of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock—to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures.” Huey Long spoke and acted as O’Connor wrote. Her style: Southern Gothic.
Journalist Tom Wicker wrote, “Thomas E. Dewey or Charles Evans Hughes came much closer to the White House, by any yardstick; but even had they made it, not much would have happened differently. The Kingfish, on the other hand, might have changed everything.”
A Populist Who Actually Works for the People
Huey Long didn’t bother with racist tropes or kowtow to the rich. He didn’t feed the public a steady diet of propaganda and emotional garbage like Trump, the “insane populist.” Instead, Long worked to make the lives of average Americans better.
Long would have kept shouting, “What are you going to do for poor Americans?” Long believed his campaign to help the poor was ordained by God. “God ordered this,” Huey insisted, referring to certain passages in the Bible. “God said so!” The Kingfish freely admitted his ignorance of economic theory. “”I never read a line of Marx or Henry George or any of them economists. It’s all the law of God.”
In “Every Man a King,” Long centered his economic populism in the Bible and eschewed Marxism and socialism. Long proclaimed, “But the Scripture says, ladies and gentlemen, that no country can survive, or for a country to survive it is necessary that we keep the wealth scattered among the people.”
Long pointed out that the Book of James says, “that when the rich hold goods they could not use and could not consume, you will inflict punishment on them.” He added: “Now, my friends, we have got to hit the root with the axe. Centralized power in the hands of a few, with centralized credit in the hands of a few, is the trouble”
Long exhorted: “Now let us see if we cannot return this Government to the Declaration of Independence and see if we are going to do anything regarding it. Why should we hesitate … when we know what the Lord told us what the difficulty is?”
The Kingfish would promote issues that matter to people. Instead of “wokeness,” the welfare of the people would be the priority. Instead of trying to “whitewash” American history, the people would repent of our national sins and build a better future together. Instead of lambasting CRT, the Kingfish would give America CPR. Instead of increasing the profits of the very rich to make them very, very, very rich, Huey would “share the wealth.” Instead of gutting Social Security and Medicare, the Kingfish would find ways to make both programs stronger.