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A Long Awaited “Moment of Truth” For FDR and President Biden.

Posted on | August 22, 2021 | 1 Comment

Mike Magee

A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.

I say it just
Begins to live
That day.

Emily Dickinson

Arguably, no President better understood the power of the word then FDR. When he structured up “a series of programs, public work projects, financial reforms and regulations…to provide support for farmers, the unemployed, youth and the elderly”, he memorably packaged the plan under the label, “The New Deal.”

Seizing alliteration in 1933, he further defined his new policies as the “3 R’s – Relief, Recovery, Reform”, promising “…action, and action now.”

When corporate America began to coalesce against him in 1936, he once again chose his words carefully in the public defense. Seizing the largest venue he could find at the time – Madison Square Garden – he stood tall and erect, supported by heavy leg braces, and declared defiantly, “They are unanimous in their hate for me – and I welcome their hatred.”

As he aged and his general health declined, his will to serve and honor his commitment to serve the American people only grew. With a heavy dose of humility and learned wisdom, he rose again on January 11, 1944, fifteen months before his death, and delivered the State of the Union Address as a Fireside Chat from the Oval Office in the White House. His words once again were clear and ever lasting. He stated that the original Bill of Rights was “inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.”

Powerful words, in their messaging and meaning, survive the ages. Consider these words from that day 77 years ago:

“We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.”

 “Necessitous men are not free men.  People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.”

 “In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, 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.”

 “It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known.”

“We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.”

“This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights…As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.”

In proposing this radical cultural shift, with war still waging across the globe but the tide clearly turning in the direction of the Allies, he defined those rights in black and white:

  • 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.

FDR loved America and all Americans. He rests in peace, but his words – and the promise they enshrine – have never died. They remain unfulfilled, their meaning and import reinforced on January 6, 2021 and beyond by the actions of insurrectionists, and anti-vaxxers, and political opportunists whose latest gambit is to sacrifice school children on an altar of profit and privilege.

President Biden shows signs of greatness, but must take care not to come up short – in voting rights, in national health care, in global warming. When dealing with determined and malevolent foes, words must be chosen carefully and delivered with absolute clarity.

“They are unanimous in their hate for me – and I welcome their hatred.”

Those were FDR’s words in 1936. Determined and deliberate. Defiant and dramatic. In defense of Democracy. This is the long awaited moment of truth for FDR, and President Biden.

Comments

One Response to “A Long Awaited “Moment of Truth” For FDR and President Biden.”

  1. Lawrence Williams
    August 23rd, 2021 @ 3:54 pm

    I think we would have liked FDR Mike. Maybe we would have invited him up to Nelligan 317 for a chat beside the fireplace you bought.
    FDR understood that political power and lots of money were potent forces that often worked against “the collective benefit” of the larger segment of the population and only for the benefit of those privileged to have one or both. And so it remains today. I believe that of the 8 rights enumerated the last is the most important. The horrible decisions made by the electorate in the past few years are surely based in ignorance. A good education for all might lead to better political decisions.

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