I was watching a little of the PBS documentary on FDR last night and by chance I saw the part where they talked about his 1936 re-election campaign. In a speech Roosevelt took on what he called “big money,” the businesses that were not only keeping workers on starvation wages but, according to Roosevelt, trying to take over the government.
“No business which depends for existence by paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country,” he said; “big business and big money are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred.
“I should like to have it said of my first administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match; I would like to have it said of my second administration that in it these forces met their master.”
It is sadly difficult to think of a politician who would make that speech today. Politicians today seem much more timid, very frightened of angering anyone who has any power. Having the commitment to our founding principles to acknowledge and to welcome the hatred of those who want to alter–or simply ignore–our Constitution for their own profit is rare today.
Today, on the contrary, we are often told that big money/big business is critically important to the growth and maintenance of democracy, and must be allowed to do whatever it wants. FDR had an answer to that, too:
“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic State itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power.”
FDR’s words are a reminder of how rarely you ever hear a major politician today 1) stating that the defense of our Constitution is her main priority; and 2) that s/he will cling to our founding principles no matter what opposition s/he faces; because 3) anyone who opposes our founding principles is no American, and therefore 4) those who oppose her/him can stuff it.
Actually, you will hear fringe nuts make these statements, but I’m talking about mainstream politicians.
Let’s remember FDR as our current presidential election campaigning goes on, and cast a vote for the person who comes closest to his courage and guts.