The Election: Time to Use FDR's Closing Argument?
Sen. Barack Obama has bought the same 30 minutes on four television networks on Wednesday night to make his “closing argument” to the electorate, six days before voting day.
I expect he’ll employ a lot of high-minded rhetoric about pulling together as a nation, joining hands, taking care of each other, and generally keep on being the amazingly cool Americans that we all are. Nothing too specific, nothing too alarming. Actually, we’ll probably get more song-and-dance about giving a tax cut to 95% of the people, one of the silliest things he could say in the current financial/budget situation. (Note to hyperventilating Democrats: McCain’s tax cut pronouncements are even sillier.)
Franklin D. Roosevelt, straight talker
What I would like to hear, though, is something like what Franklin D. Roosevelt told Americans a few days before the election of 1936. You remember that one? FDR won 60 % of the popular vote and prevailed in the electoral college by 523-8, losing only Vermont and New Hampshire.
“We have not come this far without a struggle,
and I assure you we cannot go further without a struggle.
For twelve years this Nation was afflicted with hear-nothing,
see-nothing, do-nothing Government. The Nation
looked to Government but the Government looked away.
Nine mocking years with the golden calf and three long
years of the scourge! Nine crazy years at the ticker and
three long years in the breadlines! Nine mad years of
mirage and three long years of despair! Powerful
influences strive today to restore that kind of government
with its doctrine that that Government is best which is most
indifferent. … 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
That Frank Roosevelt could really bring it. Except for the reference to breadlines, his words perfectly fit today’s crises. Wouldn’t it be great to hear some “straight talk” like that?
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