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Column: I'm looking forward to happy days
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

“Happy Days Are Here Again” is a song that was written in 1929, just as the nation was falling into The Great Depression. It became the theme song for President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1932 campaign and the Democratic convention that year.

If Roosevelt had his way, the theme song would have been “Anchors Aweigh,” the song of the U.S. Navy. Roosevelt had served as assistant secretary of the Navy.  It had been played repeatedly as a dirge at the 1932 convention. Someone yelled out, “Play something else,” and the band struck up the snappy, Tin Pan Alley favorite of “Happy Days.”

The truth is, it would be a while before the U.S. would return to happier times. Just as the economy was turning around, we found ourselves at war. 

But, Roosevelt was a salesman of happiness. Some people said he was a dictator, albeit a benevolent one. His many public works programs gave us roads through national parks, public buildings and schools. They were built by the hands of those who would have been jobless because of The Great Depression.

I don’t know what kind of leader President-elect Biden will be, but I keep hoping that we will one day return to happier times.

There are some crazy people in politics. Some of them made it interesting, others made it scary.

When I looked at the people who were recorded breaking into the U.S. Capitol earlier this month, I thought to myself, “What a bunch of nuts.”

A friend of mine who is also a political observer from the cheap seats, reminded me of a story about Herman Talmadge, the late U.S. senator and governor.

Talmadge had one cardinal rule in his office. Every letter had to be answered or at least responded within 24 hours of its receipt.

As the story goes, an aide was being admonished for getting behind on the mail.

“Senator, the letters still on my desk really should not be answered at all,” the aide said. “Each is from a nut.”

Talmadge replied, “Every constituent, including those you think of as nuts, expects and deserves a response from his United States senator.” 

Then the senator said, “Just remember, nuts vote. And if you lose the nut vote, you’ll lose the election.’” 

I’m not sure who got the majority of the nut vote, but there is plenty to go around on both sides of the aisle.

I don’t know if there is a vote for people who are willing to get along with one another, but we need more of them. We don’t need Democratic or Republican answers to our country’s problems, we need American answers that benefit the common good.

I was saddened when I heard that Johnny Isakson’s declining health would prohibit him from serving any longer in the U.S. Senate. He set an example of how to work within the system to get things done, while not compromising your standards. 

I saw it as a young reporter covering the state capitol, and I admired it as I watched his work in Washington, D.C..

We have more new faces in our Washington delegation than I can remember in my lifetime. I hope they can find the ability to get along tucked away in their political arsenal.

I’m looking forward to dusting off that old political favorite, we do need to look forward to a long stretch of happy days.​


Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the weekend Life page and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.

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