When History Repeats Itself: FDR and BHO
The people aren’t sure… just where they are going, but anywhere seems better than where they had been. In the homes on the streets, in the offices there is a feeling of hope reborn.
In the meantime, he went on a spending spree on the taxpayer’s dime. A strong believer in “social justice,” he believed it was the responsibility of the government to protect the poor from the “rich.” The way to achieve this was through government programs designed to create employment in public sector jobs and improve infrastructure by building bridges, sidewalks and roads. He wanted to raise wages for low-income workers. He led the borrowing of unheard of amounts of money for these projects. Of was demanding tax increases for the wealthiest individuals in country, driving a wedge between the classes and races.
Believing the Bill of Rights was incomplete, he embraced the notion that government has an obligation to assure certain economic essentials, “accepting, so to speak… a new basis for security and prosperity… for all, regardless of station, race or creed.” Among those essentials were:
- the right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
- the right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition;
- the right of every family to a decent home;
- the right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
- the right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment; and,
- the right to a good education.
Who is this man? If you guessed “Barack Obama,” you would be wrong. The man who espoused these ideals and implemented the government programs to achieve them was none other than Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He brought the nation from a feeling of darkness to light, simply be being elected. But his eerie similarities to Barack Obama do not end there.
The press adored him. According to William E. Leuchtenburg in The FDR Years: On Roosevelt and His Legacy, United Press reporter Raymond Clapper declared, “If reporters were 60 percent for the New Deal, they were 90 percent for Roosevelt personally.” And Roosevelt controlled the message during press conferences. He was there to inform the press, and the press acted as his scribes.
It was not only the press who was enamoured of him, but Americans as well. Writer Martha Gellhorn, in her capacity as field investigator for the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (the successor to Herbert Hoover’s Emergency Relief Administration and predecessor of the Works Progress Administration) noted of the people in North Carolina, “The feeling of these people for the President is one of the most remarkable phenomena I have ever met. He is at once God and their intimate friend; he knows them all by name… their little lives and problems. And though everything else fails, he is there, and will not let them down.”
While never openly praising John Maynard Keynes, Roosevelt and his Brain Trust employed Keynesian principles to the American economy, even though Britain had employed the same policies without much success in the years before Roosevelt’s election. While he espoused balanced budgets, he ran record deficits. According to Larry Schwikart in A Patriot’s History of the United States published in 2004, “between 1932 and 1939, the federal debt – the accumulated deficits – had leaped from $3 billion to $9 billion, and the national debt had soared to real levels unmatched to this day.”
How does all of this tie in to present times?
On November 7, 2012, many individuals awoke wondering how Romney could have lost the election when Barack Obama seemingly had so many negatives stacked against him. But, the lesson history has taught is that it is not only possible for such a person to be reelected, but to continue on in everyone’s good graces — to be hailed a hero, or even one’s “Lord and Savior” and the waste of resources and abuses of power to be ignored.
- Remembering the 1912 Presidential Election (history.com)
- Opinion: Can Bipartisanship Work? It Did in 1940 (nytimes.com)
- The Time Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football (mentalfloss.com)
- Debt Talks A ‘Roosevelt Moment’ For Obama (npr.org)
- Great presidents (bell-book-candle.com)