Monday, December 17, 2012

Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal

At various times I've heard Democratic Party propagandists compare Barack Obama with Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  That's revealed as absolute hornswoggle when you start to learn about F.D.R.

In 1940, F.D.R. decided to run for a 3rd term, breaking a tradition that had begun with George Washington.  He also decided to name his Secretary of Agriculture, Henry Wallace as his V.P. candidate.  Wallace had played a key role in the Agriculture department in implementing the New Deal.  His achievements included farm subsidy payments to help prop up both farm prices and farmers.  Note that this gives money to farmers, then mostly small farmers before agribusiness took over, and not to big corporations and banks.  Wallace also put in the Food Stamps program while leading the Agriculture department.  Again, payments to real people, payments that help people eat and survive, while at the same time helping the economy by spurring demand.

A far cry from Barack Obama's giving us a re-run of Herbert Hoover's policies of supporting the bankers while telling ordinary people to go get stuffed.  Barack Obama could have made the same decision on the housing crisis he faced.  He could have chosen to give payments directly to people struggling to keep up on mortgages to prop up a crashing housing market.  Instead, Barack Obama gave the money to the bankers.

There were those in the Democratic Party who didn't like Henry Wallace.  Just the same as today, there are those in power in Washington who won't lift a finger to help the American people, and who will oppose anyone who tries.  So, while the Democrats were happy that F.D.R.'s decision to run for a 3rd term made them favorites to keep the White House, there were some Democrats who were complaining and trying to prevent the nomination of Henry Wallace as their Vice Presidential candidate.

We know what Barack Obama would do in such a situation.  He'd quibble and compromise and the compromise would include ditching someone who actually helps people like Henry Wallace.  Look closely, and you won't find a Henry Wallace in Obama's cabinet room.  The last person even close that's been in the cabinet was probably Dr. Robert Reich in Clinton's marginalized Labor Dept. And he left after the first term.

So, what did F.D.R. do?  He called their bluff, and took the dramatic step of REFUSING the Presidential nomination of the Democratic Party.

Wow.  Can you imagine that?  During the party's convention, the party's nominee by acclamation turns around and says, no, I won't take it if you won't nominate the guy I want as my Vice President.

And, he didn't even try to be gentile or diplomatic in doing it.  Here's the letter he wrote to the delegates of the Democratic Convention.

Franklin D. Roosevelt Letter to the Democratic Convention
July 18, 1940 
Members of the Convention: 
In the century in which we live, the Democratic Party has received the support of the electorate only when the party, with absolute clarity, has been the champion of progressive and liberal policies and principles of government. 
The party has failed consistently when through political trading and chicanery it has fallen into the control of those interests, personal and financial, which think in terms of dollars instead of in terms of human values.
The Republican Party has made its nominations this year at the dictation of those who, we all know, always place money ahead of human progress.
The Democratic Convention, as appears clear from the events of today, is divided on this fundamental issue. Until the Democratic Party through this convention makes overwhelmingly clear its stand in favor of social progress and liberalism, and shakes off all the shackles of control fastened upon it by the forces of conservatism, reaction, and appeasement, it will not continue its march of victory.
It is without question that certain political influences pledged to reaction in domestic affairs and to appeasement in foreign affairs have been busily engaged behind the scenes in the promotion of discord since this Convention convened.
Under these circumstances, I cannot, in all honor, and will not, merely for political expediency, go along with the cheap bargaining and political maneuvering which have brought about party dissension in this convention.
It is best not to straddle ideals. 
In these days of danger when democracy must be more than vigilant, there can be no connivance with the kind of politics which has internally weakened nations abroad before the enemy has struck from without.
It is best for America to have the fight out here and now.
I wish to give the Democratic Party the opportunity to make its historic decision clearly and without equivocation. The party must go wholly one way or wholly the other. It cannot face in both directions at the same time. 
By declining the honor of the nomination for the presidency, I can restore that opportunity to the convention. I so do.
Found at ...

"The party has failed consistently when through political trading and chicanery it has fallen into the control of those interests, personal and financial, which think in terms of dollars instead of terms of human values."

Can you even picture Barack Obama saying that?  Well, maybe, the man will say pretty much anything as 'happy talk' in a speech.  But, he sure as heck wouldn't back it up by telling his party in the middle of their convention that the party had better change direction away from those interests or else he 'declining the honor of the nomination for the Presidency'.

That's Barack Obama.  He's very good at 'happy talk' sections of speeches   He's good at the 'feel your pain' schtick of Bill Clinton.  But, his speeches always end, or veer away into meaninglessness afterwards.  Barack Obama appears to understand the problems of America.  He just isn't going to do anything about them.

By the way, I highly recommend Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States.  I was watching episode 1 of that series, and that's where I found this little gem.  This example of F.D.R. standing up to the bankers and the wealthy and the powerful who objected to his policies that had eased crisis of over-supply by paying people directly both not to over-produce and to buy.  F.D.R. didn't use the power of his office to funnel money out to bankers.  F.D.R. used the power of his office to help people and help the country.  That's why Barack Obama will never be considered in the same breath as F.D.R.  Herbert Hoover and Obama in the same breath, that's easy.  They are both tools of the bankers who harm the country by kowtowing to the bankers interests.

America needs another F.D.R.  America is ready for another New Deal.  What's changed is that the Democrats have made the decision that F.D.R. fought against.  The Democrats are now solidly in the control of 'those interests, personal and financial, which think in terms of dollars instead of terms of human values.'

The Democratic Party appears to be locked down.  At this point, there seems to be very little chance at the statewide level and no chance at all at the national level of anyone as progressive as Richard Nixon, much less Franklin Delano Roosevelt, succeeding in a Democratic primary for President.  Oh, there's a segment of the base who would support another F.D.R., but the party rules were changed after McGovern to make sure such a populist uprising could never again succeed   During the Hillary v. Obama contest, Democrats became familiar with 'super-delegates' as they split between the two.  But the real purpose of the un-democratically selected super-delegates is to tilt the table so that a party (aka money) favorite only needs 40% of the rest of the delegates to defeat an insurgent populist who needs 60%.  The Democratic Party is an un-democratic party that sponsors a rigged game.

Thus it seems as if America is going to find its next F.D.R., its going to have to find him outside of the Democratic Party.


1 comment:

Samson said...

Addendum: The second episode of Oliver Stone's excellent series covered why Henry Wallace never became President of the United States. At the 1944 convention, the Democratic party bosses still didn't like Wallace. And undoubtedly they knew the stakes were higher due to FDR's obviously failing health. Meanwhile, FDR wasn't apparently in the mood to stand up to them with such dramatic steps as declining their nomination.

The party leaders were so awful that they tried to force a SC racist/union buster named Byrd as the VP. The labor leaders absolutely would not accept that.

There was one night at the convention, where Wallace was about to be nominated as the clear favorite of the convention floor. The bosses of the Dem party intervened and adjourned the convention. Using the same trick recently seen at Repub and Dem conventions of the chair deciding that a clear voice vote (No in this case) was instead a Yes and gaveling the convention closed. That gave the bosses overnight to cut a bunch of deals, and then next day their alternative candidate, Harry S. Truman, was selected as VP.

Thus, that perhaps is the moment, or at least one of them, when the Democratic Party ignored FDR's wise advice and instead turned towards dollars and away from human values.