When Franklin Roosevelt was on the campaign trail in 1932, he said: "I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people. Let us all here assembled constitute ourselves prophets of a new order of competence and of courage. This is more than a political campaign; it is a call to arms. Give me your help, not to win votes alone, but to win in this crusade to restore America to its own people."
In his first inaugural address, in response to the Great Depression, Roosevelt said: "The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit."
Like today, many people during Roosevelt's time thought it was wrong for government to help people (even though the Founding Fathers gave the government the right to do so with the General Welfare clause). So, the more Roosevelt tried to help Americans in need, the more they hated him. But Roosevelt stayed true to his beliefs and said: "Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference" (quote found in the book American-Made, by Nick Taylor, Bantam Books, 2008).
After Germany and Italy declared war on the United States, Roosevelt said: "Rapid and united effort by all of the peoples of the world who are determined to remain free will insure a world victory of the forces of justice and of righteousness over the forces of savagery and of barbarism." The allies won the war three-and-a-half years later.
Less than a year before he died, President Roosevelt signed the G.I. Bill, which offered a range of benefits for World War II veterans. Roosevelt said that the G.I. Bill "gives emphatic notice to the men and women in our armed forces that the American people do not intend to let them down." On the back of the postage stamp pictured above, it reads "...the G.I. Bill helped approximately 2.25 million war veterans attend college. Millions of other GIs received job training; home, business, and farm loans; and unemployment benefits."
President Franklin Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945, after leading the nation through depression and war, and after setting the nation on course for a vastly improved quality of life - a quality of life that has only recently begun to crumble under the weight of trickle-down economics, tax breaks for the super-wealthy, rampant white collar crime, unrestrained political spending, and naked greed. In other words, all those things that President Roosevelt and his fellow New Deal policymakers warned us about.
We need another FDR; and we need another, even stronger New Deal.