I'm what you call a red diaper baby. That means that my parents were members of the Communist Party at the time of my birth (April 21, 1946). They quit their memberships when I was a little kid. Though I don't know the exact circumstances of their exit I do know that my father particularly remained within the periphery of the Party for decades while not a dues payer and not subject to Party discipline. I could go on about what socialism he imparted to me. If you Google "Jew boy of Queensbridge" you'll find stuff about that if you're interested.
I used to talk with my father about politics, especially the politics of the 1930's and 40's. When it came to Huey Long my dad was clear: Long was a fascist, a demogogue, a racist and a danger to the Jewish people. I more or less accepted his assessment until recently. I now have a completely different view having done more reading.
Huey Long was a radical, even a revolutionary, a fighter for poor whites and Blacks and the scourge of the rich. He actually was my kind of guy. No, he wasn't perfect. It's clear though that he was doing the best that he could do. Probably he paid with his life.
Long did great things for the poor people of Louisiana taxing the oil money being made to build hospitals, bridges, highways and schools. Students got free textbooks. Adults were given night school classes. Black sharecroppers then could read and do arithmetic, making it harder for the heirs of the slave owners to cheat them out of their contractual due money. The plantation owners and Ku Klux Klan hated Long. Poor whites and Blacks loved him.
I don't doubt for a minute that Bernie Sanders studied up on Huey Long and is taking a few leafs from the Long playbook. Long, though wasn't a supporter of United States interventionism. He had the understanding that the US war against Spain at the end of the Nineteenth Century and America's participation in the First World War were wrong (just like my namesake Eugene Debs). Sanders is a supporter of US drone strikes (but on a smaller scale than Obama's drone strikes). Sanders also initially supported the invasion of Afghanistan. He is an emotional supporter of The Jewish State but he was the first member of Congress to boycott Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech to Congress that called for war against Iran. My most optimistic take on Sanders is that he takes the most progressive stances he can while remaining a player in US realpolitik and reducing the chance of ending up like Martin Luther King Jr. and Huey Pierce Long.
Young Bernie Sanders, civil rights activist 1960's.
I am thinking that Bernie Sanders needs a movement that's independent of him but pushing him to be better than he is and keeping the needs of the poor, the workers, the Blacks and World Peace front and center. Something like Huey Long's Share The Wealth Clubs of which there were 2800 of with eight million members.