Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Remembering FDR

April 12 was the 60th anniversary of the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He was the greatest President of the twentieth century and the anniversary went almost unnoticed. It is not just time that has dimmed our appreciation of this great man, but the distance the US has traveled from the ideals that Roosevelt held and the programs that resulted from these ideals. His concept of government’s role was to make the US a country where no one was left out. Now we have small men with even smaller minds whose idea of government is like a reverse Robin Hood: give to the rich and take from the poor.

Imagine a President today saying the following and you will get an idea of just how far we have sunk. In his 1944 State of the Union speech, Roosevelt laid out his vision for this country after World War II: calling it, “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.”

Included in these rights were:

  • 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 a good education.

Today, our nation is now being led, if you can call it leadership, by a group of vicious mean-spirited men who want to tear down those government programs, most of which Roosevelt instituted, which help the poor, and disadvantaged. These so called leaders play on the fears of the American public not their hopes and dreams; a far cry from the famous words of Roosevelt, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

We desperately need another Roosevelt today. We need a leader whose philosophy of governing can be summed up in Roosevelt’s words, “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.”