Wednesday, April 20, 2005

 

The real FDR - not Parsley's

We noted a couple of days ago that self-appointed godhead of the moral reformation movement in the US, Ohio's own Rev. Rod Parsley, is trying to generate the cockamamie myth that FDR was against aid for the poor and unemployed, particularly government aid for disadvantaged. Parsley had resorted to lying and using deceptive editing to get FDR's 1934 SOTU speech to fit his theocratic needs. Apparently this was Rev. Rod's thoughtful way of marking the anniversary of Roosevelt's death.

Bob Herbert, however, truly does honor the FDR legacy and points out that his aim was "to make a country in which no one is left out.'' Indeed, in his 1944 SOTU speech, Roosevelt introduced the notion of a Second Bill of Rights:
[T]he president offered what should have been recognized immediately for what it was, nothing less than a blueprint for the future of the United States. It was the clearest statement I've ever seen of the kind of nation the United States could have become in the years between the end of World War II and now. Roosevelt referred to his proposals in that speech as "a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race or creed.''

Among these rights, he said, are:

"The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation.

"The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation.

"The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living.

"The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad.

"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.

"The right to a good education."

[. . . ]

Roosevelt was far from a perfect president, but he gave hope and a sense of the possible to a nation in dire need. And he famously warned against giving in to fear.

The nation is now in the hands of leaders who are experts at exploiting fear, and indifferent to the needs and hopes, even the suffering, of ordinary people.

"The test of our progress,'' said Roosevelt, "is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.''
Sixty years after his death we should be raising a toast to FDR and his progressive ideas. And we should take that opportunity to ask: How in the world did we allow ourselves to get from there to here?

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