“The Nation takes great satisfaction and much strength from the things which have been done to make its people conscious of their individual stake in the preservation of democratic life in America. Those things have toughened the fiber of our people, have renewed their faith and strengthened their devotion to the institutions we make ready to protect.”
The Nation is stronger because the people know they have a stake in its success. The Great Depression was a recent event when Roosevelt gave this speech.
“Certainly this is no time for any of us to stop thinking about the social and economic problems which are the root cause of the social revolution which is today a supreme factor in the world.”
Roosevelt provides an economic context for the rise of fascism:
“For there is nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy. The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple. They are:
Equality of opportunity for youth and for others…”
Equality of opportunity is not the same as a free ride. Providing it is part of the work of sustaining a healthy democracy.
“Jobs for those who can work.”
The assumption here is that people who can work will work and those who can’t want to.
“Security for those who need it.”
Economic hardship is a fact of life for many people. Those people are citizens and voters. Providing some measure of relief is part of the work of sustaining a healthy democracy.
“The ending of special privilege for the few.”
A democratic system is the antithesis of a government that caters to the rich. This is another aspect of preserving equality of access. Preventing the rich from using their power to rig the system isn’t class war. It is the work of sustaining a healthy democracy.
“The preservation of civil liberties for all.”
No one has the right to vote away another person’s freedom. Protecting everyone’s rights is the work of sustaining a healthy democracy.
“The enjoyment . . . the enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.”
A healthy democracy spreads the benefits of new discoveries in science and makes them available to everyone.
“These are the simple, the basic things that must never be lost sight of in the turmoil and unbelievable complexity of our modern world. The inner and abiding strength of our economic and political systems is dependent upon the degree to which they fulfill these expectations.”
The health of our democracy is directly related to the work we do to sustain it.
“Many subjects connected with our social economy call for immediate improvement. As examples: We should bring more citizens under the coverage of old-age pensions and unemployment insurance.”
Because the fullness of life that comes with economic security belongs to everyone in a healthy democracy, not just the wealthy few.
“We should widen the opportunities for adequate medical care.”
This is government acting on the principle that everyone benefit from scientific research.
“We should plan a better system by which persons deserving or needing gainful employment may obtain it.”
This statement predates Civil Rights legislation and laws against workplace discrimination.
Roosevelt continues: “If the Congress maintains these principles, the voters, putting patriotism ahead of pocketbooks, will give you their applause.”
The voters understand that the civilizing principles of our democracy are more important than money and they will not support a Congress that doesn’t.
“In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms…
The first is freedom of speech and expression–everywhere in the world.”
The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way–everywhere in the world.
The third is freedom from want–which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants-everywhere in the world.
The fourth is freedom from fear–which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor–anywhere in the world.
“Since the beginning of our American history, we have been engaged in change–in a perpetual peaceful revolution–a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly adjusting itself to changing conditions–without the concentration camp or the quick-lime in the ditch. The world order which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.”
The United States, the principles of democracy, and our definition of human rights is evolving and change does not require a descent into barbarism.
“Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights and keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose.”
The freedom to speak your mind, worship as you please, benefit from new technologies and the abundance they create, are the only way we can make
a safe and just world order. These are freedoms, not rights.
Roosevelt understood that our credibility as a nation was directly linked to our commitment to the principles that shaped and must continue to shape our government.
So far, in the past five posts, I’ve painted a picture of Hillary Rodham Clinton, as a woman with a lot of strength, grit, smarts, determination, and ambition who had developed an impressive resume detailing a long list of significant accomplishments from 1973 to 1993. At a young age, she had promising political future in her own right. As a feminist in these times, it is safe to say that she ruffled a few feathers even though most of her efforts during these years were directed towards the betterment of children.
It is my contention that Hillary Clinton’s reputation for being inherently dishonest and untrustworthy is based on a house of cards built over 40 years by the conservative right. You have observed how many Americans have come to be convinced that President Obama is Kenyan born and not a U.S. citizen despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. There seems to be this republican axiom, that if a talking point based…