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The Capital Times (Wisconsin)

FDR Proved Government Can Work in a Big Way

Scott Ross

Seventy-five years ago this month Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected president of the United States. Thinking about the current White House occupant makes it pretty clear the theory of evolution does not apply to politicians.

Where Roosevelt showed the resources of government used properly can respond to aggression and mitigate the suffering of those in need, George Bush has used a national tragedy to secure unlimited enrichment for a powerful few. We need to remember "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself," particularly when it comes the unending stream of lies, hypocrisy and hate cascading from the White House and its allies.

There's always a threat, according to Bush: terrorists, illegal immigrants, marriage-inclined gays -- someone who wants to prevent you, as he says, from "working hard to put food on your family."

That's why we can't have government investment in helping make the lives of middle class families tolerable.

It's guys like Bush, Scott Fitzgerald, Charlie Sykes and Paul Ryan and their right-wing bloglodytes who would have fought against the New Deal by screaming that the government, for instance, would be paying to bring electricity to rurally located illegal immigrants.

Well, that and because they're opposed to the minimum wage, Social Security and the rights for workers established under the National Labor Relations Act.

The New Deal would never get passed today. Because, let's face it, too many Democrats are beholden to corporate interests and too many have been cowed into fear whenever the word immigration arises.


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Let's not forget: The only reason the immigration debate is happening is because in September 2006 the Republicans realized their dual record of failure in Iraq and promoting corruption in Washington, D.C., was not a winning message for the November elections.

Democrats flinched and with that the conservative noise machine pounced. Families trying to come to America under the cover of darkness are being equated with terrorist cells, which always conveniently come up when there's bad news brewing for the Bush administration.

All of this isn't to say FDR didn't have detractors. At different times, Roosevelt was described as a fascist, socialist and communist -- and this was before Fox News.

But like no other president, Roosevelt harnessed the power of government to inspire in people the will to overcome adversity, while at the same time providing the tools with which the common good had the chance to succeed.

His wife was awesome too.

Scot Ross is the executive director of One Wisconsin Now, a progressive communications and online advocacy network.

Copyright ©2007, Capital Newspapers.

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