Where Have You Gone, FDR?

Fred Clark points to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Sept. 30, 1934, Fireside Chat:

To those who say that our expenditures for Public Works and other means for recovery are a waste that we cannot afford, I answer that no country, however rich, can afford the waste of its human resources. Demoralization caused by vast unemployment is our greatest extravagance. Morally, it is the greatest menace to our social order. Some people try to tell me that we must make up our minds that for the future we shall permanently have millions of unemployed just as other countries have had them for over a decade. What may be necessary for those countries is not my responsibility to determine. But as for this country, I stand or fall by my refusal to accept as a necessary condition of our future a permanent army of unemployed. On the contrary, we must make it a national principle that we will not tolerate a large army of unemployed and that we will arrange our national economy to end our present unemployment as soon as we can and then to take wise measures against its return. I do not want to think that it is the destiny of any American to remain permanently on relief rolls.

Is it unfair to expect President Obama to be FDR? On the one hand, obviously there’s an element of unfairness in holding him to the standard of one of the best (despite his flaws) Presidents in history. On the other hand, even in politics repeating a success should be easier than inventing it. Heck, the GOP finds repeating Hoover’s failures to be trivially easy.

More generally, is there not something odd and maybe interesting in that the Republican party finds it profitable to wrap itself in the mantle of Reagan while pushing policies opposite to those Reagan actually approved, yet the Democratic party cannot bring itself to call it Hooverism, nor to wrap itself in FDR’s mantle? Are these figures now erased from the popular consciousness? Given the state of our educational system, I suppose anything is possible.

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3 Responses to Where Have You Gone, FDR?

  1. Just me says:


  2. Frank says:


    Obama has been the biggest disappointment in American politics in my lifetime. He’s reinforced the Geither/Rubin/Summers wing of the Dems so much that the party may not be salvageable. The country is not the 1991 Harvard Law Review. But that’s how he’s trying to run it.

    • I guess I must be older: I recall being pretty disappointed in Jimmy Carter. And if we define “politics” to include candidates as well Presidents, I was pretty disappointed in Gary Hart. But the prize goes to …. John Edwards.

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