Huey Long is the heart of Louisiana. I think of him when I think of Louisiana, and I understand the anathema of this state. Its collectivism, which derives from its non-Anglo traditions and its agrarian culture, gave easy rise to its populist politics. That populism was intensely complicated by a racism that Huey Long managed to navigate. Long dreamed of a “share the wealth” program encapsulated in his “A chicken in every pot, and every man a king” sound bite. He is an indirect grandparent to Occupy Wall Street. Long despised big oil and big banks; he drove the expansion of Glass-Steagall in Congress and pushed FDR to the left.
Today, a chicken in every pot means something entirely different. It means pull yourself up by the bootstraps to buy yourself your own chicken. It means keep the government off my lawn, and out of my pocket, so I can build my castle. As a friend put it, we’re not talking about “Every king a servant.”
On Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate the return of Christ the Savior, the servant king, and his message for each and every one of us to be Christ-like in our lives. Every man a king, indeed.