BY TIM MAULDIN
When Life Magazine humorously proposed “Will Rogers for President” in 1928, Will got letters from readers that he was not qualified to run for president because he was a Native America.
Will, who was proud of his Cherokee heritage, replied, “While my ancestors may not have come over on the Mayflower, they were here to meet the boat when it landed.”
All of that made Will Rogers more serious about politics, along with the onset of the Great Depression.
In 2012, Oklahoma delegates to the Democratic National Convention commemorate the 80th anniversary of Will’s historic support of FDR for president in 1932. It took four ballots to nominate FDR. Will Rogers’ support was crucial.
Will Rogers had great influence. He was a pioneer figure in print and broadcast coverage of politics and national conventions. His articles and broadcasts reached over 40 million Americans.
SOME GREAT WILL ROGERS’ QUOTES
DEMOCRATS: “Their greatest trait to recommend the Democrats is optimism and humor … You’ve got to be an optimist to be a Democrat, and you’ve got to be a humorist to stay one. Democrats never agree on anything. That’s why they’re Democrats. If they agreed with each other, they would be Republicans.”
REPUBLICANS: “You know it takes nerve to be a Democrat … But it takes money to be a Republican. A Republican moves slowly. They are what we call conservatives. A conservative is a man who has plenty of money and doesn’t see any reason why he shouldn’t always have plenty of money. A Democrat is a fellow who never had any, but doesn’t see any reason why he shouldn’t have some.”
DEMOCRATIC PARTY: “I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat.”
CIVILITY IN POLITICS: “I never met a man I didn’t like.”
CAMPAIGN FINANCE: “Politics has got so expensive that it takes lots of money to even get beat nowadays.”
URBAN SPRAWL: “The only way to solve the traffic problem of this country is to pass a law that only paid-for cars are allowed to use the highways.”
WATER POLLUTION: “Always drink upstream from the herd.”
SOCIAL SECURITY PRIVATIZATION: “Don’t gamble; take all your savings and buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don’t go up, don’t buy it.”
BI-PARTISANSHIP: “There ain’t any finer folks living than a Republican that votes the Democratic ticket.”
TAXATION: “The whole trouble with the Republicans is their fear of an increase in income tax, especially on higher incomes.”
PLATFORMS & RESOLUTIONS: “Nobody wants his cause near as bad as he wants to talk about his cause.”
SPEECHES: “Make every speaker as soon as he tells you all he knows, sit down. That will shorten our speeches so much you will be out by lunch time.”
IMMIGRATION: “My ancestors didn’t come over on the Mayflower but they met the boat when it landed.”
MEXICO: “We would never understand why Mexico wasn’t crazy about us. We have always had their goodwill, oil, coffee and minerals at heart.”
REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT: “Remember, write your Congressman. Even if he can’t read, write him.”
CORRUPTION: “It’s awful hard to get people interested in corruption unless they can get some of it.”
BIG BUSINESS: “Big Business don’t go broke any more. The minute it looks bad for them, they combine with something else and issue more stock.”
ECONOMICS: “Every guy looks in his pocket and then votes.”
WAR: “I have a scheme for stopping war. It’s this – No nation is allowed to enter a war till they have paid for the last one.”
HUMAN RIGHTS: “We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others.”
HEALTH CARE: “There is nothing that keeps poor people poor as much as paying doctor bills.”
– Tim Mauldin, a 2012 Democratic National Convention delegate and lifetime member of the Oklahoma Historical Society, lives in Norman, OK