Occupy Wall Street (1934): A Trip Down Memory Lane
Nov. 19, 2011
Huey Long was the most politically effective demagogue in American history. He was repeatedly elected governor of Louisiana. He was elected to the U.S. Senate. He planned to run for President against Franklin Roosevelt in 1936. He was the only politician Roosevelt thought might beat him after 1932. Roosevelt stole several of Long's ideas, beginning in the so-called second New Deal (1935-38). Long was assassinated in 1935.
He was a genius. He taught himself law in one year, passed the bar, and later argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Chief Justice and former President of the United States, William Howard Taft, said that Long had one of the best legal minds he had ever encountered.
He was corrupt to a degree that most politicians can only dream of. He was the incarnation of this principle: "He seen his opportunities, and he took 'em." -- George Washington Plunkett. But his was not "honest graft," as Plunkett called it -- graft based on gains that were side effects of politics. His was specific graft: the focus of politics.
He knew how to give a rousing speech. He never wrote down notes. He thought notes would make his speeches less spontaneous.
Here, he attacks the wealthy 4%. He saw himself as representing the 96%. This speech was part of his national political movement called "Share Our Wealth."