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February 14, 2017


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Very nice post, thanks. Huey Long has many similarities with Trump, in terms of oratorical skills, anti-elite message, and disregard for checks on the executive. Long would never have nominated a Treasury secretary from Goldman Sachs, as he really believed in the malevolence of Wall Street. Long also, contra other Southern "demagogues", avoided using race to galvanize support, and didn't discriminate in his personal life, though he never challenged Jim Crow laws. Long made sure his textbook program helped blacks and Catholics the same as whites, against the standard Southern Democratic practice. He saw himself as helping blacks by helping the poor and his programs did benefit many black Louisianans so he probably would have won elections by even larger margins with the black vote.

FDR was scared of Long as a political opponent (Long's support of a public pension program helped push FDR to support Social Security to steal Long's thunder), so some of the It Can't Happen Here support came from FDR supporters. Long's disregard for checks on his power were a huge problem, but I am not sure that he would have done Japanese internment, and FDR also had his own tendencies in this respect (like the Court Packing plan) so I think this has to be kept in context. While the direct evidence for this is lacking, Williams (Long biographer) thought that Long was planning to run in '36 to challenge FDR, which would result in a split Democratic vote and a Republican victory. As the GOP would do a terrible job (in Huey's mind), then Long would cruise to an easy victory in '40. The assassination ended all of that, but presents some interesting counterfactuals.

Will be interesting how the Policy Uncertainty Index guys respond to Trump's uncertainty index. I imagine that interest in the topic just fades on the right. But the Policy Uncertainty Index is at record levels. http://www.policyuncertainty.com/

Actually I messed up: was looking at Global Policy Uncertainty. Looks like Policy Uncertainty is higher in the USA in 2011 than today under Trump. That's just not plausible. http://www.policyuncertainty.com/

In 2011, Congress was seriously threatening to default on the national debt. They're probably not going to do that now, since their guy is President.

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