January 20th - The Un-Typical Politician

The Un-Typical Politician - Various Artists, 1966

As soon as I saw this album I knew I would need to review it for this extremely depressing Inauguration DayIn the description I felt I read a degree of cynicism, but upon listening I was horrified to discover how optimistic it was. Take the introduction:


I cannot...I literally cannot imagine any contemporary commentator saying anything as earnestly and matter-of-factly hopeful as this introduction. What follows is a surprisingly non-political, slightly unfocused series of audio essays about politicians and presidents, from Fiorello LaGuardia to Adlai Stevenson. These are fairly interesting, being intercut with either actual historical recordings or recreations - I literally cannot tell. There's an early quote from New York governor Al Smith that sounds like someone doing a bit but that very well could just be Al Smith. There are short bits on animals and music and humor in politics, which do little but let you know that politicians exist, and they say and do things.

There is one thing I am deeply thankful for on this day. There is a very early quote from Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 1936 renomination acceptance speech which spoke to me very deeply today. In fact, I think it might be a good idea to quote a bit of FDR's 1936 renomination speech, and advise you to read the rest - there is some honestly starting stuff in there about "economic tyranny." Here is what struck me - there is an audio recording but frankly it's a bit difficult to listen to.


There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.

In this world of ours in other lands, there are some people, who, in times past, have lived and fought for freedom, and seem to have grown too weary to carry on the fight. They have sold their heritage of freedom for the illusion of a living. They have yielded their democracy.

I believe in my heart that only our success can stir their ancient hope. They begin to know that here in America we are waging a great and successful war. It is not alone a war against want and destitution and economic demoralization. It is more than that; it is a war for the survival of democracy. We are fighting to save a great and precious form of government for ourselves and for the world.


Click here to read liner notes and purchase this album from Smithsonian Folkways