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Compare the Visions, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 672

Essay

“Share Our Wealth” & the Platform of the GOP

In his proposal “Share Our Wealth” from the Congressional Record of the 73rd Congress for 1934, Huey Long, a Republican senator from Louisiana who attracted widespread support in the South and the Midwest for the above proposal in which he promised a guaranteed income for all Americans and helped to popularize the slogan “Every Man a King,” outlines eight specific goals which he felt would help overcome the travesties of the Great Depression. For the most part, these goals fly in the face of Roosevelt’s “New Deal” program which despite fierce opposition from Republicans and other more radical factions did indeed help to end the Great Depression.

Basically, Long is proposing that all Americans must be guaranteed what we now refer to as a living wage in order to possess “the reasonable comforts of life” (443) and that accumulating vast fortunes beyond $5,000,000 must be limited if not outlawed. Of course, if such fortunes are made, they must be “subject to present income tax laws”

and the levy or implement of capital taxes (443). Long then proposes that the “most modern and efficient machinery” must be used to produce most of America’s material needs, thus “regulating the hours of work” so that all Americans would have time for “recreation, convenience, education, and luxuries of life” (444). Long also proposes old age pensions (similar to Social Security which came along in 1936 via Roosevelt’s “New Deal”), the storing of surplus commodities (agricultural products), compensation for war veterans, education and training for all American children, and as a way to pay for these proposals, Long suggests that the rich must be taxed via “the reduction of swollen fortunes from the top” down, i.e., let the wealthy pay for these changes (444). Many of these proposals border on communistic thought based on the ideals of Karl Marx who supported the concept of sharing the wealth some sixty years earlier. Thus, it is astounding that Long would advocate communistic principles as a hard-line Republican and with a firm belief in “the laws of God” (444).

In contrast, the official platform of the Republican Party circa 1936 appears to have been specifically designed as a full-blown attack against FDR and his “New Deal” policies, and although Long does not mention FDR or his policies by name, the Republicans openly declare that the “New Deal Administration has dishonored American traditions” and has “flagrantly betrayed the pledges” of FDR’s Democratic Party (449). For example, the powers of Congress have been usurped, the integrity of the Supreme Court has been flouted, the rights and liberties of Americans have been violated, and free enterprise has been replaced by a regulated monopoly (449). Also, the Republicans declare that FDR’s policies “threatens national bankruptcy” and the destruction of pensions and life savings (449). But like Huey Long, the Republicans are in favor of imposing taxes to raise revenues but are unclear as to how much and who to tax, presumably not the wealthy nor those with “swollen fortunes.”

But what is truly amazing is that Long appears to support some of FDR’s initiatives, especially old age pensions, veteran compensation, and educational opportunities for American children. However, the Republicans believe that FDR’s policies will bankrupt the country and that as President has usurped or taken control of society as if he was a dictator in a totalitarian system. The Republicans also seem to be in support of an old argument concerning state’s rights which some historians see as one of the leading causes of the Civil War. Overall, although Long’s proposals make sense but are too utopian, the Republicans via their platform display great arrogance against FDR’s “New Deal” policies that in the end did not bankrupt the country and led to a renewed sense of hope and prosperity on the heels of World War II in 1941 and made it possible for America to prosper economically in the “Big Boom” after the war.

Bibliography

Hartzell, Lawrence L. A Mosaic of America. Vol. 2. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Publishing, 2007. 445-451.

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