Glen Taylor would be one of those people the disc jockeys of the world would call a legend in his own time except that his time has passed and almost no one but a few oldtimers remember this fomer Democratic senator from Idaho (1946-52) who ran on a third-party ticket with Henry (not George) Wallace in 1948.
The Wallace effort was destroyed before it had fairly begun by a mass media blitzkrieg denominating it as a Communist front Wallace's defamed and frightened followers fled, save for the Communists and a few lib-labs too stubborn or loyal to see that they were risking their futures for a campaign that was dead at the starting gate.
Taylor says that he would have quit too, but he had too much pride to bug out. The underfinanced, ill-organized attempt by Wallace, FDR's vice president (1940-44) to yank control of the White House out of Truman's hands and avert the Cold War was a fitting enterprise for Taylor, an antiorganizational American original seized with the kind of beautiful idealism which the rest of us admire from time to time if it's not expressed in too dangerous a way.
Glen Taylor's father was a wandering preacher who roved Idaho and other parts of the Northwest, but the silver-mining towns refused to support him. Leaving the sinners, Dad and the family converted into a traveling theatrical road show, making a living bringing drama to those who wouldn't pay for religion. But the talkies and the Depression killed the business, so young Glendora Ranch Gang and made their living playing cowboy music on station KSEL, Pocatello.
The handsome singing cowboy and his son Arod (Dora spelled backwards) continued the act and were able to make ends meet, but Taylor, like many other Depression-decade Americans, couldn't accept a nation of such richness and productive capacity in which millions didn't have a pot to make pea soup in. His bewilderment led to a certain amount of reading and his reading led him into politics.
When he finally did get himself elected to the Senate by singing cowboy songs and selling his social gospel, he told the world it was the best job he and Dora ever had. Yet he never did the things a senator ought to do if he cares to keep the job.
While Harry Truman and Winston Churchill were playing Peter the Hermit for the anti-Russian crusade, Taylor attacked Winnie's Iron Curtain speech in the Senate, saying, "I wish he had stayed home and minded his own business." In phrases that would not issue forth from a United States senator's lips for a generation. Taylor killed himself off with the voters by making statements like, "We supported French colonialism, Dutch colonialism, British colonialism, any colonialism, and where there was no colonialism we found a cheap dictator to support instead of helping the aspirations of the common people. And we have reaped the harvest." Taylor may have been the first national political figure to warn about mucking about in Vietnam; he was one of the few who ridiculed the Truman administration's assertions that the Commies were taking over Greece.
He felt so strongly about the peace question that, in October 1947, he put on his cowboy costume, mounted his faithful steed and with his family following in a truck, set out to ride across the country as a means of dramatizing the issues.
On May 2, 1948, when Martin Luther King was graduating from high school, Sen. Glen Taylor was arrested in Birmingham, Ala, for attempting to enter a church through the entrance reserved by law for exclusive use of black persons. Taylor was knocked flying by a policeman and, cut, bruised and torn, was taken before Public Safety Commissioner Bull Connor who was going to make history by doing the same thing to black protesters 15 years later.
Flat broke after his defeat for reelection, the ex-senator made his living as a carpenter until his back went bad on him. Lacking any other way to earn a living, he decided to go into the toupee business. Taylor's Toppers, the toupees he and Dora made with their own hands, were of a design he perfected himself for his own bald head.
Today it is all right with him and Dora. They live in a suburb near here and the toupee business flourishes, but Glen Taylor poses a problem for those who complain our politicians lack "the guts and the honesty to stand up for what they know is right."
Let them ponder the last words Glen Taylor was to say as United States senator: "At one time I stated on the floor of the Senate that I was going to vote my convictions, as though I never expected to come back. All I can say is that I did vote my convictions, and I did not come back."