When Huey Long was campaigning for governor of Louisiana, he wrote some clever slogans and songs. He was a more radical populist at the time than FDR (Franklin D Roosevelt). Nationally, Huey captured the public’s imagination and controlled every facet of Louisiana life in the 1930s. He fostered and expanded public education and public demonstrations of Louisiana success such as the LSU Golden Band from Tiger Land. Huey knew the value of public demonstrations.
One song Huey is credited with writing began: “Every man a king, for you can be a millionaire…” Back in the late 1920s and early 1930s, the word “millionaire” meant that a person was rich beyond the dreams of mere mortals. Long used it to suggest that everyone could and should be rich, that there was plenty to go around in such a wealthy country. He fostered equality and democracy. His slogan “Every man a king, but no one wears a crown” was a symbol of success for all. It was similar to the rich man’s “A chicken in every pot!”
Jindal can’t seem to rally the legislature with far more resources at his disposal and probably as much raw power as Huey had from the bully pulpit. Jindal may not have blatantly threatened as Huey is known to have done, but his strong-arm tactics with many have been just as effective in getting most votes. Some legislators will testify to the ways Jindal, his staffers and his floor leaders have stripped them of funding and benefits for their districts. It’s a brutal test of survival for those who defy Jindal in Baton Rouge. But Jindal may have some revived dissenters!
Huey left many positive legacies we still find around the state. Public buildings, such as the State Capital, oak trees and free text books are a testament to Huey Long. Jindal’s legacy is one of destroying, reducing and eliminating.
Jindal was roundly panned for his response to President Obama’s first address to congress in 2009. His oratory cannot compare to Long. The “Rising Star” just fizzled. “This was the moment for him to seize the mantle with new ideas, new direction, and lay the groundwork for himself as a creative new thinker,” said Thomas Schaller, a political scientist at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. “He just used old platitudes and party clichés.”
If Jindal is trying to write his legacy, he probably should think about the sword he’s used to destroy so much. It seems the blade has two edges and and the legislators sense a little new blood in the water.