Oct. 31: ‘On the eve of a national election …’

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Oct. 31, 1936

On the eve of a national election, it is well for us to stop for a moment and analyze calmly and without prejudice the effect on our Nation of a victory by either of the major political parties.

The problem of the electorate is far deeper, far more vital than the continuance in the Presidency of any individual. For the greater issue goes beyond units of humanity — it goes to humanity itself.

In 1932 the issue was the restoration of American democracy; and the American people were in a mood to win. They did win. In 1936 the issue is the preservation of their victory. Again they are in a mood to win. Again they will win.

More than four years ago in accepting the Democratic nomination in Chicago, I said: “Give me your help not to win votes alone, but to win in this crusade to restore America to its own people.”

… 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.

… It is because I have sought to think in terms of the whole Nation that I am confident that today, just as four years ago, the people want more than promises.

Our vision for the future contains more than promises.

This is our answer to those who, silent about their own plans, ask us to state our objectives.

Of course we will continue to seek to improve working conditions for the workers of America–to reduce hours over-long, to increase wages that spell starvation, to end the labor of children, to wipe out sweatshops. Of course we will continue every effort to end monopoly in business, to support collective bargaining, to stop unfair competition, to abolish dishonorable trade practices. For all these we have only just begun to fight.

Of course we will continue to work for cheaper electricity in the homes and on the farms of America, for better and cheaper transportation, for low interest rates, for sounder home financing, for better banking, for the regulation of security issues, for reciprocal trade among nations, for the wiping out of slums. For all these we have only just begun to fight.

… Of course we will provide useful work for the needy unemployed; we prefer useful work to the pauperism of a dole.

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.

  • Mrs Grimble

    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.

    I’d love to hear Obama quoting that.

  • aunursa

    You can probably tell from my avatar where I’m gonna be today.  With roughly 800,000 Obama supporters, and maybe 200,000 who support the other guy.

  • Frank from Canada

    “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.”

    This ould have been written for an Obama speech. The more things change, the more they stay the same. As David Byrne once said: “Same as it ever was!”

  • Tom S

    To be fair, a lot of those forces supported Obama in the last election, particularly the reckless banking and speculation crew on Wall Street. Though the fact that they’re backing Romney now is reason enough to back Obama in of itself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Yeah, reading this, I kept thinking back to the date, and, “76 years?  Really?  And this is where we’re at now?”  Almost makes me want to just turn in my Official Progressive Card, because there doesn’t seem to have been a whole lot of progress on these fronts in that time.

  • histrogeek

    The more things change…

  • histrogeek

     There were more than a few brokers who supported FDR too. Joe Kennedy springs to mind. It’s just that some in the financial industry figure their interests are better met by keeping society going than looting what’s left as it falls.

  • Lori

    Almost makes me want to just turn in my Official Progressive Card,
    because there doesn’t seem to have been a whole lot of progress on these
    fronts in that time.  

    The problem isn’t that there hasn’t been a whole lot of progress. IMO the problem is that there was so much progress that the people who benefited from it started to take it for granted, while the enemies of that progress never forgot that things hadn’t always been that way and never stopped trying to roll us back to the Gilded Age. We’re now living with the consequences of that vast disparity in commitment.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    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.

    It’s amazing how little the ‘Anglo’ nations have budged on the perception of the unemployed in 80 years.

  • Jessica_R

    That bit about a “fairy godmother” is why Romney talking about the “help” he’s offered to people who have come begging to him in campaign appearances make my skin crawl. Maybe those stories are true, and it’s better the person get help than nothing. But still, the idea that you have to hope you’re lucky enough to catch the hem of the cape of the passing by Squire and plead for mercy? That’s not democracy that’s goddamn feudalism. 

  • Madhabmatics

    Considering the history of soccer riots, I think team allegiance may be a bit more important :P

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    That’s funny, because I could swear her avatar portrayed soccer, not baseball. But her link went to a big baseball parade. Do baseball fans skew democratic for some reason?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    aunursa identifies as “he”, by the way.

  • LunaticFringe

    How have I never noticed that FDR looks exactly like The Penguin?

  • http://redwoodr.tumblr.com Redwood Rhiadra

    I’m pretty sure his avatar depicts the San Francisco Giants (I don’t pay much attention to sports, but I live just south of SF, so it’s hard to avoid recognizing the Giants, especially right now…). And while baseball fans in general probably don’t skew Democratic, the Bay Area does.

  • Don Gisselbeck

    Part of the reason for the “vast disparity in commitment” is that many of us who benefited from the progress are “half-hearted fanatics” (Edward Abbey). I would much rather ski than campaign.

  • Carstonio

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