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  FATHER COUGHLIN, HUEY LONG, & UPTON SINCLAIR; VOICES FOR THE DISAFFECTED IN 1930s AMERICA

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FINAL COMMENTS

Father Coughlin argued at first that faith in God and faith in FDR would lead America out of the depression. However, as the depression worsened, Coughlin turned his messages against the New Deal. His first attacks against the New Deal were largely against the banking situation in America. Later, his messages were a combination of the economic woes in America, the growing Communist threat in Europe, and a Judeo-Bolshevik alliance of international Jewish bankers and Bolshevik sympathizers; where the alliance takes over the U.S. and forces all into economic and spiritual slavery. Coughlin was sure that the depression was a direct result of capitalism's alliance with Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracy and he wanted all God-fearing Americans to come to the aid of democracy. While his earlier messages of reform rang true with Americans not severely threatened by the depression, his later messages were a scary blend of near-militarism and hate, all fighting words to the disaffected. Others caught the wave of his tide of hate, such as the German-American Bund, and even today, various white-race supremacy groups. What at first seemed like populist reform, looked more like revolution in the end. To some, like Coughlin's inspired Christian Front, took their disaffected voices and his messages of conspiracy to the streets and backed them up with rifles and raucousness. Coughlin's empowering messages of revolt were thankfully cut short by both the Catholic Church and the Federal government. One can only speculate what could have happened had Coughlin remained on the radio airwaves.
 
Like Coughlin, Huey Long believed in a redistribution of wealth among the American people. Unlike Coughlin, however, Long avoided hate-laden radicalism and stuck to a homespun, backwoods humor to illustrate his points. Never violent, but always poignant, Long cushioned his messages in Christianity, common-sense, and pragmatism. He, too, gave Roosevelt's reforms a fair shake at first, but when he felt as if they weren't moving fast enough, he pushed his re-distribution of wealth campaign, known as Share Our Wealth, to the masses. Indeed, Long's imagery such as God calling a barbecue where robber barons (or were they captains of industry?) take most of the food.

Long said it best, "The Lord has answered the prayer. He has called the barbecue. 'Come to my feast,' He said to 125 million American people. But Morgan and Rockefeller and Mellon and Baruch have walked up and took 85 percent of the victuals off the table!"

Long's movement was not as widely accepted nationwide as it was among the poor white and black farmers in mostly rural Louisiana. In Louisiana, Long created a political machine of paid-off lackeys, and dissent was squelched by state national guardsmen doubling as Long's own militia. While he espoused a populist and near-socialist platform of redistribution of wealth, his work in Louisiana looked more like fascism with Huey Long as dictator.

If not for his assassination in 1935, Long stood a good chance of taking the presidential election away from FDR. Long's message, unlike the vast government bureaucracy of the New Deal, was clear enough for most Americans to understand and the populist, homespun tone had mass appeal. Though if Long had lived to see himself President, he surely would have brought his fascist-style politics to Washington and, indeed, the change would certainly be unwelcome, with revolution on both sides.

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