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FDR as Catalyst of Pragmatic Progressive Movement

By       Message Bill Hare     Permalink
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Conservatives like Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan pointed out that they would have been happy to run on the same 1932 Democratic Party platform on which Franklin Delano Roosevelt launched his successful run for the presidency.

Where Goldwater and Reagan missed was that they failed to carry the sequence forward in the evolving circumstances with the only candidate in U.S. history to win four presidential elections.

FDR proved himself to be an effective pragmatist and therein lay the success of the program he christened a "New Deal for the American people" at his party's Chicago convention. Once that he took office Roosevelt proved flexible and America benefited as new programs were initiated and the trademark economic concept of the party's platform was scrapped by the new man in office.

Initially operating under the conventional wisdom, Roosevelt and his brain trust advocated government frugality with tight budget restraint as a means of getting America moving amid the Great Depression.

Given a broader perspective after taking office, Roosevelt began operating in the manner of an enthusiastic Keynesian as he launched major jobs creation programs designed to feed Americans and put money into circulation.

Whereas under a succession of Republican presidents beginning in 1921, Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover, a trickle down economic strategy was put into play whereby, through generating capital at the top through corporate America, it would gradually generate downward via trickle down economics, Roosevelt's team developed a new playbook.

In Roosevelt America the pragmatic approach was to launch a trickle up strategy. Money was spent on programs such as the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. With money in circulation and people not used to seeing it much less spending it feeling like contributing members of society, improvement was realized.

Before long more people than ever before owned radios and more automobiles were seen on America's streets and highways. Years later I observed regularly on one of the bridges that enabled me to reach my Cape Cod home the words that the bridge, standing proud and tall so many years later, was a product of the Works Progress Administration.

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Another important improvement brought numerous Americans out of an impoverished dark age and into a brighter new world. That improvement came through rural electrification, bringing power to people who had been previously without it. The Tennessee Valley Authority proved a godsend to millions of Americans.

Then out west in Nevada there was the creation of Boulder Dam, later to be called Hoover Dam to the anger of many who thought that if any name was to be attached to the impressive project that it should have been California's progressive Republican Senator Hiram Johnson, who had worked long and hard to make the project a reality.

A great pride developed among those involved with projects such as CCC camps and the building of Boulder Dam. I know personally. My father, not long out of the Navy, was among the young men laboring diligently in the hot sun on the Boulder Dam project.

Later his best friends when he settled in Southern California were fellow project workers. Those in such undertakings often formed bonds in the manner of university fraternity brothers.

Roosevelt's New Deal provided opportunities to millions of Americans. His luminous legacy lives on.

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Began in the journalism field in hometown of Los Angeles. Started as Sports Editor and Movie Writer at Inglewood Daily News chain after working in sportswriting of high school events at the Los Angeles Examiner.

Received a bachelor's in (more...)
 

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