Which of the F.D.R. Wannabes Actually Understands New Deal Liberalism?Roundup
tags: FDR, New Deal, 2020 Election, Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Jonathan Alter, the author of “The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope,” is writing a biography of Jimmy Carter.
Some political ideas are so old they feel new. In his 1944 State of the Union address, an ailing Franklin D. Roosevelt sketched his ambitions for a “Second Bill of Rights” — a vision of “adequate medical care,” “a good education,” “a useful and remunerative job,” “a decent home” and “freedom from unfair competition and monopolies” as the birthright of all Americans.
From the 1930s through the 1970s, American politics took place largely on Roosevelt’s liberal terrain. Since then, even Democratic presidents have often been forced to play on Ronald Reagan’s conservative side of the field.
Suddenly, though, Roosevelt is alive again in the 2020 Democratic primary campaign: His ideas for using government to improve lives echo through stump speeches across Iowa and New Hampshire.
Roosevelt’s dream of “cradle to grave” coverage animates proposals for baby bonds, universal pre-K and Medicare for All. His ambitious and environmentally prescient Civilian Conservation Corps, which employed three million men and planted three billion trees in less than a decade, is the progenitor of the “Green New Deal” and various impressive national service proposals, whether proponents of those plans know it or not. And his famous declaration that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” is routinely deployed to blast President Trump for stoking hate and fear.
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