“Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without.” Millions of Americans were forced to live by these words during the 1930s. The Great Depression swept across the country like an unforgiving force. Millions became jobless while many others went hungry. Kitchen soups and bread lines became common sights in every major city; the nation was on the brink of collapse.
For those who witnessed the country’s incredible growth during the 1920s, the stock market crash of 1929 was nothing more than an inconceivable nightmare. While the U.S. had experienced market downturns in the past, nobody expected the widespread devastation that the Great Depression would cause.
In their time of need, Americans of every stripe understood the necessity for renewed leadership. Something had gone horribly wrong and it was now the government’s responsibility to ensure that the people of this country aren’t forced to endure such hardships ever again. That unified desire for change resulted in the rise of one of America’s most influential political figures: Franklin D. Roosevelt.
A Democrat, FDR is the only president in American history to have served four consecutive terms in office (he died in 1945 while serving his fourth term). Considered by historians one of the three greatest U.S. presidents (the other two being George Washington and Abe Lincoln), FDR redefined the role of the federal government in ways that, I would argue, remain unmatched.
Aware of the tremendous pain the Great Depression was inflicting on American families, especially on older Americans, the Roosevelt administration set off to implement one of the nation’s most ambitious policy agendas in history: the New Deal. Forgotten by many young Americans today, the New Deal proved very successful at curbing the very negative effects of the crisis. It included numerous programs intended to support rural America, the unemployed, the young, and the elderly. The Public Works Administration or the Works Progress Administration, for example, led to the creation of countless job opportunities and helped lift thousands of Americans out of poverty. But perhaps FDR’s New Deal is better remembered for giving rise to one of America’s most popular government programs: Social Security.
The Social Security Act was signed into law in 1935, creating the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program. Colloquially known as Social Security, the OASDI program became the first government program to target the many challenges faced by American retirees, although it also provided benefits for widowed and disabled citizens. Prior to the creation of Social Security, old Americans had to rely on their savings or on family support to make ends meet after retirement. But the Great Depression had severely severed those two lifelines, leaving them without a dependable source of income. Today, millions of retired Americans continue to view their Social Security benefits as an important source of economic security in their old age.
FDR’s unwavering commitment to helping the poor and those in need resonated with his party, and for over forty years the Democratic Party became a resolute advocate for justice and for equality. It wasn’t easy, but progress towards a stronger, less unequal society was made. In 1965, as part of his war on poverty, Lyndon B. Johnson picked up where FDR left off and launched Medicare and Medicaid, thus creating the country’s first national health insurance programs. Today these programs provide health and financial security to nearly 100 million Americans.
At this point you may be wondering why I decided to revisit a chapter of American history most of you are already well aware of. Here is my answer: Our public discourse seems to have fallen victim of increasingly nasty and ill-informed attacks, so I thought it would be quite educational to look back and reflect on this country’s not-so-distant past, a past when so-called “socialist” policies were all the rage. Because let’s face it, folks, this country is drowning in socialism. Every single policy I laid out in this post is an example of a socialist policy. And there is more, of course. K-12 and even your nearest fire department are also examples of socialism in America.
For over forty years, the Democratic Party was a champion of such policies. They cared for the poor. They believed in a more equal society. But not anymore. Today, the Democratic Party is not all that different from the Republican Party. Why do you think the Democratic Party has been running on identity / woke politics for the past twenty years? Because they don’t have anything else to offer. Their economic agenda is the GOP’s agenda.
As I stated in my previous post, the Democratic Party seems to have reached the conclusion that Joe Biden is the best candidate to run against Donald Trump in November. The moment the party understood that Bernie had the resources and voter enthusiasm to secure the nomination, they put together a campaign strategy that will make political history. In a matter of days, endorsements of Biden and opinion pieces trashing Bernie Sanders have piled up like dominoes, seriously wounding the self-described democratic socialist and very likely putting the final nail in the coffin for his historic campaign.
Bernie Sanders is often demonized for not being a true Democrat, and it is no secret that the Democratic establishment has come down hard on Sanders because they believe he poses a serious threat to the party’s identity and future. But nothing could be further from the truth. Sanders is no threat to the party. In fact, Sanders and his movement are the embodiment of what the Democratic Party represented for the better part of half a century. A party that did not shy away from challenging the status quo. A party that understood that widespread poverty and inequality were the true enemies of the nation’s overall well-being and stability.
Whether or not Bernie Sanders wins the nomination, his message is here to stay. Now it is up to those who believe in that message to bring decency, humanity, ambition, and hope back into the Democratic Party, and to carry on FDR’s legacy.