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Today is the 117th anniversary of the birth of Huey Pierce Long, Jr., the Kingfish, legendary governor and United States Senator from Louisiana.  In honor of him today, who had many fine qualities and just as many terrible faults, I bring up one thing Long was a hero:  Non-interventionism.  It’s a story not well known.  My source is the seminal tome, Huey P. Long, by T. Harry Williams.

The first incident was opposition to a “reciprocal trade bill”, similar in kind and effect to today’s “fast track authority”, sought by FDR.  Long supported hefty tariffs to protect American industry, a traditional Southern position at the time.  But Long went further (quoting Williams):

He [Long] advocated that the United States should withdraw from all agreements that might involve it in other parts of the world.  Thus he demanded that the government disassociate itself from cooperative efforts to settle the war debts of European nations to the United States and that the government grant immediate independence to the Philippines.  “Let us get out of the entanglements of Europe and the Orient in the quickest way possible,” he cried.

Compare this to Ron Paul at the Value Voters Debate in  2008 where Paul called for the US to get out of “…the UN, the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, NAFTA, CAFTA, and GATT!”

But Long went further.  When President Roosevelt called for passage of a treaty to bind the United States to the jurisdiction of the World Court, the GOP so-called isolationists (actually here they were non-interventionists) immediately objected.  Long joined them in opposition due to his agreement with them and his desire to defeat FDR.  Williams has this classic passage:

The United States should never again become entangled in European quarrels, he [Long] said in one speech.  The nation had entered the World War to make the world safe for democracy, and what had been the result?  “We would up with all Europe under dictatorship, and we are trying to set up one in this United States at the same time,” he answered.  “I do not intend to have these gentlemen whose names I cannot even pronounce, let alone spell, passing upon the rights of the American people,” he cried in another speech.  “I do not intend to vote for this infernal thing.”

The Maine GOP could hardly have said it better.  Long’s opposition, combined with radio addresses by Father Coughlin, brought about a dramatic showing of public opinion worthy of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.  Patriotic Americans by the thousands wired or wrote their senator saying NO.  The treaty did not even get a majority, let along the two-thirds needed for passage.

I do not honor Huey Long for many reasons, but I can honor him for this on his birthday.  Let us hope and pray that patriotic Americans will rise again in 2010 and 2012 and stand for non-intervention and American sovereignty!

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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