Is President Trump Channeling the Ghost of Huey Long?

Many rational people across the globe are trying to understand the Trump phenomenon. His manner and affectations offer little in the way of encouragement. Unless one believes building a wall and destroying years of social progress a good thing.

I recently came across a challenging book called,

Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America

Author: Richard Rorty

Publisher Harvard University Press


The book is not an easy read. In 1998, Rorty predicted the rise of an American strong man. He wrote,

“One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out.

Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion. … All the sadism which the academic Left has tried to make unaccept­able to its students will come flooding back. All the resent­ment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet. …

After my imagined strongman takes charge, he will quickly betray the expectations of his supporters, make his peace with the international super-rich. … People will wonder why there was so little resistance to his evitable rise. Where, they will ask, was the American Left?

Why was it only rightists like [Pat] Buchanan who spoke to the workers about the consequences of globalization? Why could not the Left channel the mounting rage of the newly dispossessed?”

The words seem almost prophetic. In looking for similar pieces, I came across a novel by Sinclair Lewis called, It Can’t Happen Here.

One of the novel’s characters is Berzelius “Buzz” Windip, a politician who defeats FDR for the presidency. His campaign is based on fomenting fear and promising drastic economic and social reforms all to the backdrop of Patriotism and “traditional” values.

Things change after the election. He imposes a plutocratic totalitarian regime through a paramilitary force. The plot focuses on journalist Doremus Jessup’s opposition to the regime and his part in a liberal rebellion.

Critics connected the novel to Louisiana politician Huey Long who was preparing for a run for the presidency in 1936. Long was assassinated in 1935 just prior to the novel’s publication.

A time when America was resisting entanglement in the European turmoil leading to World War II.

History unveils the difficult decisions facing FDR. Americans were fearful of events in Europe. Such fears offered a politician such as the one in Lewis’s novel an opportunity to arise.

The fear of immigrants and refugees was powerful then and mirrored in our own time.

One of the little talked about aspects of the “Greatest Generation” is the rampant anti-Semitism that permeated American society. Once we entered the war, FDR had to balance the perceptions. He could not let our entry into the conflict appear to be a war to save the Jews.

There is much to be proud of in this country. The bravery and courage of the military, the resilience of Americans to bear any burden, and our past stands against injustice, yet we sometimes overlook the truths of history.

There will come a time when future generations take the measure of our actions. It would appear now that courage and determination to do the difficult and face down the enemy is sorely lacking.

As we face a new wave of innocent refugees, America must look them in the eye and choose. We can offer a beacon of hope with welcoming arms or the cold bayonet of fear.

Perhaps Americans need to step away from their insular iWorld and read a bit. It could be iOpening.

The Journey

She looked out over the dunes for his return, a sign, anything.

Would he come? Why haven’t heard? Why is he so distant?

This is the part she hates, the intensity of the feelings, love, hope,

doubt, distance, despair, delight, resolve, and resignation.

It had always been this way. Was it her obsession? Was he really that

different? Was he really so sweet, and caring, and tender, and distant, and


Does it have to be thus?

She kept looking, kept hoping, every day, whenever she could, she’d

look out and hope, watch the sun fade and steal her heart, pulling it down

beyond the horizon, inevitably, undeniably. Broken, she would return inside

and pretend her life to continue.

In the morning sunrise would return her hope, renew her spirit, buoy her

heart…..and the pattern would repeat, day in and day out.

The day came when she no longer went to the deck. She

knew now that his absence wasn’t a delay, a deferral, it was a decision.

She would never look out again.

She became better at pretending to be happy,

took solace in things that had become familiar but never fulfilling, there

but not their’s, comfortable but not comforting.

Alive, but not living.

He steered the ship through the storm, made little progress. He had

turned back over and over only to return to this ship and try again. He was

unprepared, unequipped, and unsure of the way.

Sure of his purpose.

There was something that compelled him. Something that drove him on

this time in spite of the storm, In spite of all the objections to his

leaving the safe harbor.

The waves chilled him, blinded him, concealed his progress. But he was

moving forward, he was approaching the coast. He was approaching that which

had held him together for years.

The storm receded, the sun appeared and then set. She would be watching,

or would she? It had been so long, so much time lost, so many times he’d

disappointed her by returning to the safe harbor.

He could see now, the sea was calming, the wind relenting, the mists of the

rains fading. He could see.

He looked at the shore, felt the guilt rise, felt the shame of his cowardly

delay consume him.

How could he have expected her to wait? After all he’d done and failed to

do, how dare he think himself worth it.

He returned to the tiller, began a gentle turn away from the coast. The

tears blinded him, he couldn’t imagine life alone.

And then he heard the voice, he tried to see but only saw motion. She was

there, she had always been there, it was his doubt that blinded him.

But it was her gentle, loving, honest heart that led her back to the

shore. Not another chance, but compelled to continue the journey with him

as they were meant, first separately, and then together, to complete.

It wasn’t where, how, or when they came together, it was always that they

would come together.

The journey continues.