Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Donald Trump, the Conservative Huey Long (Part II)

Long declared his intentions to run for president in 1936. Of course, he would have more than likely failed to defeat FDR for the Democratic nomination. But his ploy was to gain national attention and traction to run as a third Party candidate (Some estimated he could have garnered well over 6 million votes nationwide and win Louisiana outright). A month after his declaration of presidential ambitions, Long was murdered by Carl Weiss who was a relative of a political rival whom Long defamed in a political speech. Over 200,000 people attended Long’s funeral procession and burial (more people than who attended any of FDR’s four inaugurations).

Long originally supported FDR and his New Deal. In fact, Long handpicked hundreds of delegates to stack the deck to help FDR defeat Al Smith for the Democratic nomination in 1932. Al Smith worried that FDR and Long policies were dangerous because they divided and polarized the American electorate by pitting the rich versus the poor and the government versus corporations. Liberals have since adopted this philosophy to win elections. For instance, liberals created divisive slogans such as the “war on women” and using race baiting while debating political issues. And liberals would certainly argue that Trump is probably more polarizing than any Republican candidate in U.S. history with his statements about Muslims and Hispanics.

After winning the presidency in 1932 there was quickly a fallout between FDR and Long. FDR called Long and General Douglas McArthur as “the most dangerous people in America”. Originally, Long agreed with most New Deal policies, but he soon began to oppose many aspects of the New Deal. It is hard to believe, but Long was much further Left than FDR. For instance, Long saw the National Recovery Act (NRA) as favoring big business. By 1933, FDR cut Long out of the decision process (funding, appointments, etc.) in his home state of Louisiana. And to add insult to injury, FDR had the IRS investigate Long and his cronies. Not one piece of legislation put forward by Long was passed despite huge Democratic majorities. Ironically, many of Long’s policies and ideas were not much different than FDR’s: the main difference was personal and it became a power struggle. FDR won that power struggle. Today, Trump and the establishment Republicans continue to fight a vicious battle for control of the Party. Trump is winning that battle, but he may have offended too many Republicans to win the general election.

Despite his many flaws, a plurality of Long’s ideas were not just copied by FDR, but they were used by every Democratic administration that followed. For instance, Obama’s stimulus was modeled after Long and FDR infrastructure concepts. LBJ’s “War on Poverty” was modeled after Long’s “Share Our Wealth” concept. As bad as Trump has alienated many established Republicans and despite his glaring flaws – many of his ideas should be continued. For example, Trump’s outreach to minority communities should continue. Minority leaders and the media always argue we need to have a national discussion on race. Trump is trying to do exactly that: have a discussion – although it is not the discussion liberals want to hear. Trump is doing what other Republicans refused to do: reach out to minorities by offering Republican ideas instead of Liberal ideas that have failed them for over five decades. This approach may work over time: Especially if liberals continue to support groups such as Black Lives Matter who protest discrimination by proposing discrimination on other groups of people such as the police or Whites. Hopefully, when it comes to race, the voice of reason will win and not the voice of discrimination and retaliation. Remember, it was Long and FDR policies that first turned African-Americans from supporters of Republicans to Democrats. Trump’s Laissez Faire type foreign policy may also gain some traction with the Republican Party in the next few decades. It is no surprise that thousands of weapons used in foreign battles have ended up in the hands of terrorists and they are using this weaponry against the West. Denying weapons to terrorists is imperative to win that war.

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