Wednesday, 31 October 2012

A Message to America

Picture an American President seeking re-election. He inherited a devastated economy and a demoralised society left to him by the previous regime. He has made a start to repairing the damages, to rebuilding the nation. But he needs more time. Meanwhile, his enemies line up to crush him. His supporters waver. What is he to do? 76 years ago today, as he approached what pundits predicted would be a tightly contested election coming at the end of his first term of office, President Franklin D Roosevelt, gave this message to the people of America:

“We have not come this far without a struggle and I assure you we cannot go further without a struggle.

[For] years this Nation was afflicted with hear-nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing Government. The Nation looked to Government but the Government looked away. … Powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of government with its doctrine that that Government is best which is most indifferent.

For nearly four years you have had an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up.

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace – business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They 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 should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master. …

Here and now I want to make myself clear about those who disparage their fellow citizens on the relief rolls. They say that those on relief are not merely jobless – that they are worthless. Their solution for the relief problem is to end relief – to purge the rolls by starvation. To use the language of the stock broker, our needy unemployed would be cared for when, as, and if some fairy godmother should happen on the scene.

You and I will continue to refuse to accept that estimate of our unemployed fellow Americans. Your Government is still on the same side of the street with the Good Samaritan and not with those who pass by on the other side.”
Amen to that.

[FDR’s message is as relevant today as when it was delivered on 31 Oct 1936, for anyone, anywhere, combating those forces of organized money who indulge the rich and disparage the poor. He went on to triumph in the 1936 elections by winning forty-six states to his opponent’s two. For the full text of the speech, go to:]