Saturday, October 19, 2013

Trial by Power

Nearly all men can stand adversity. But if you want to test a man, give him power. - Abraham Lincoln.

San Jose, California – Huey Long, possibly the inspiration for the novel All the king's men, was known as the man of the people, the small-town boy next year. He was the son of farm owners, and homeschooled. He was so poor that when he won a scholarship, he was still unable to use it because he could not afford even the textbooks.
Long was the governor of Louisiana, and then a senator until 1935. He advocated a "share the wealth society." His works created hospitals and brought textbooks to poor children. His political career began when he was 25.
But then his social plans began to backfire. The governor tried to bring in new taxes to fund his programs. Soon, an attempt was made to impeach him. He was called out for blasphemy, bribery, and embezzling, along with misuse of power, etc.
Fifteen senators promised not to vote against Long, no matter what the evidence, he won his case. Afterwards, the man of the people was surrounded with bodyguards at all times. His work paid off, and a road system was made in the state connecting the back roads and small disparate parts of the state. His opponents claimed he had become the virtual dictator of the state.
FDR and the New Deal were not progressive enough. Long wanted a redistribution of wealth. He thought there should be a cap on how much money you could make in a year, how much money you could have, and on how much you could inherit. "This plan is the only defense this country's got against communism.”
Long continued to effectively control his state. The governor was his lieutenant. The senators were his allies. When he was in the capitol, he would take over the governor’s office, and sit on congressmen’s desks to explain to them how he needed them to vote.
Soon, his clubs had millions of members. He regularly has twenty-five million listeners on the radio. He received more letters every week from supporters and others than the president. Soon, he decided to run for president himself. He wrote a book My First Days in the Whitehouse. In his home state of Louisiana his detractors said he was so bad armed opposition may be all they had left. He probably would have crushed them had it come to that. He boasted he controlled everything but the Red Cross and the Community Chest.
But you may have never heard of Huey Long, that is because he never became president, not because he lost, but because, on September eight, 1935, he was at the state capitol building trying to pass "House Bill Number One.” A bill to remove Judge Benjamin Henry Pavy, a long time enemy.
At 9:20, Dr. Carl Weiss approached Long in the hallway as the session still went strong. He shot the senator in the stomach and killed him.
Men who seek for power may win it for a time, but they too shall fail. It is only virtue that will in the end triumph. Power is like fire. Handle is carefully, or it will burn you.

Andrew C. Abbott

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