Huey Long, a radical populist and former governor of Louisiana, ascended to become the Democratic presidential nominee after Franklin D. Roosevelt choked to death on his food at a convention. Long enacted radical income redistribution measures to curb poverty and crime. He initiated many lavish and impractical public works projects in the poorest areas of rural , where much of his base of support was located. He was accused of building for himself dictatorial powers as he centralised power in his hands. The degree of centralisation reached a point never before anticipated in American politics. He chose Howard Scott to be his Vice President in order to balance the ticket with a ‘Yankee’ and to obtain the services of the experts associated with him, most of whom had a command and control and meliorist approach to economic policy, much like Long himself. He filled many posts within the executive bureaucracy with ‘his people’, or those who were with him during his time in Louisiana politics.
Despite initially being near pacifist in foreign policy, Long eventually realised massive rearmament and mobilisation were needed for him to make good on his campaign promises to increase employment and alleviate the worst aspects of the Depression. This realisation, together with mumblings from various Technocrats within his own administration about North American energy self-sufficiency led Long to instigate a dispute with Canada which soon escalated into all out war. Total war mobilisation did indeed do a great deal to increase employment and put back on the path towards reaching full productive capacity again. Long was annoyed that Technocrats within his own administration objected as he thought he’d be pleasing them considering their continuous calls for Canada and the United States to join in a union.
Due to his bombastic, even authoritarian style; his economic policies which were deeply unpopular with big business; and his involvement of the United States in a war with a fellow democratic, kin cultured Anglo-Saxon country, Long had become deeply unpopular internationally and among some sections of society domestically. Long had couched the war in terms of an aggressive ‘Long Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine’, which made the other European powers anxious as it seemed to imply their possessions in the Americas were next. Long also presented the war as a completion of the War of Independence by terming the war the War of Unification. This unapologetic and abrasive portrayal of an aggressive war in terms of patriotism appalled some and won the admiration of many ‘average’ Americans.
The conquest of Canada and British possessions in the Caribbean was quick, though it came at the cost of the Philippines and other American possessions in the Pacific being annexed by the British. He was assassinated shortly after victory over Canada. Some suspected a big business conspiracy, some suspected a conspiracy by the European powers, some suspected perhaps the Pentagon was making sure they wouldn’t be forced to participate in any more of ‘Huey’s adventurism’ as one War Department official characterised it, and still others suspected Technocratic elements within his own government of bumping him off in order to seize power. Whatever the actual occurrence, Long remained a deeply polarising figure long after his death as he had been in life. The poor and disaffected loved him for putting the nation back to work, regardless of the overly-ambitious and frequently bizarre decisions he made as president, suggestive of an individual who had allowed power to go to his head.