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A New Deal For America

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A New Deal for America

“Throughout the nation men and women, forgotten in the political philosophy of the Government, look to us here for guidance and for more equitable opportunity to share in the distribution of national wealth… I pledge myself to a new deal for the American people. This is more than a political campaign. It is a call to arms.”  Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his speech  accepting the Democratic Nomination for President, 1932

In 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt offered a New Deal, a series of programs over the course of three years that lifted America out of The Great Depression.  In 2009, presented with an economic crisis, America is poised to receive a 21st century New Deal.  With overwhelming majorities in the House, filibuster or near filibuster proof numbers in the Senate, and an Obama White House, the Democratic Party will be enabled to present bold and expansive policy and remedy.  Obviously, Democrats greet this with joy, Republicans with dread.  Obama is poised to be a 21st century FDR, the type of leader who not just leads, but transforms. 

America’s economic system is crumbling under internal and external transformative pressure.  The emergence of the global economy has converged with decades of governing philosophy to bring our economy to the brink over the last few weeks. Conservatism has deregulated entire pillars of industry:  banking, finance, industrial, utilities, telecommunications, and on, and on.   At the same time, American capitalism has run unfettered, spilling out into the global economy for more and more economic gain.  Cheap labor in China and India, free trade agreements, lowering import tariffs, complex tax structures (including but not limited to off shore tax shelters) have eroded the very foundation of America’s economic system:  consumerism.  More importantly we have lost hope in the American dream of each generation doing better than that before.

In the past month, government has acted with precipitance of judgment, akin to patching holes as the levy fails.  Conservative principles, built on the bedrock of laissez faire governing principles, has more than washed away, it has drowned.  What now exists of conservatism is a paradox.  Government can assist and grant favor to corporations and to the wealthy.  However, the poor, disadvantaged, and “the least among us” must pull themselves up by the proverbial bootstrap.  Through inconsistency, conservatism has failed in its principles.  As a governing idea, faced with economic reality, it has been proven incapable.   

 The twenty first century’s New Deal stands ready to fill the void.  A confluence of necessity, gravity and an eager populace is driving this election in the Democratic column.  Obama's plan for America is nothing short of a New Deal, and he starts with an economy that, albeit weakened, is in far better shape than in 1933.  The New Deal of the 1930’s left the nation with lasting institutions and programs, things today we take for granted.  These economic pillars are so ingrained in our economy that we could not function effectively without them.  Social Security, the FDIC, the SEC, and the Tennessee Valley Authority were all specific government programs addressing weaknesses and failure in the banking system, retirement, stock and trade, job growth and infrastructure.  Like FDR, Obama is proposing broad and sweeping answers for our ailing nation.

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The components of Obama’s plan addresses all major the major weaknesses in our economic system.  We will make major investments in our infrastructure, which, in many regions, is rapidly depreciating.  The bridge collapse in Minnesota is a glaring example of the urgent need for this investment.  Many new corporate regulations, including tax and oversight will address job loss, greed, mismanagement, and fraud.  The result will be fairer capitalism, consumer protection, safer opportunities for investment, and protection of American workers and their jobs.  He proposes new investment and government programs for research and development to address energy independence.  These programs will stimulate the economy, produce job growth, and increase average salaries.  Finally, Obama will steer America toward universal healthcare. 

The New Deal was not without controversy, and the charges that reverberated then are the same as the charges leveled today.  Americans are warned of plans to “redistribute wealth.” In this case, socialism is equated to laudable efforts to level the playing field and create greater inclusiveness in our economic prosperity.  Labeling progressive and liberal economic policy as socialism does not reverberate among voters younger than 50.  In a harsh economic crisis, among any age bracket, the scare tactics fall flat.  The Red Scare of today is more of a whimper, ineffective and not remotely convincing.

Obama’s New Deal creates an America that looks like the America that emerged after World War II:  strong, renewed, and influential.  Prosperity flows and new pillars of economic might are erected.  America is a more leveraged negotiator in the global economy.  Workers gain economically, and wages rise.  Government jump starts new industries, jobs and skill sets that tackle major environmental dilemmas and fossil fuel dependency.  Millions of new workers rebuild the roads and bridges, as well as mass transit systems for our cities.  Foundations of education at the primary, secondary and collegiate levels train visionaries that restore our place as the world’s innovator.  Corporations reap the benefit of a consumer empowered with more savings and increased spending power.  Utopia, it is not, but America is back on its “path towards perfection.”

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Kelly Bowling lives in Raleigh, NC and graduated from Duke University in 2000. He aspires to be a political columnist for the Washington Post.

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