FDR was keenly aware of the external and internal threats to democracy. He used government for good purposes: to defeat world fascism and lift us out of the Depression. He also stood guard against internal threats.
In 1936, William Dodd, the U.S. Ambassador to Germany, wrote a letter to President Roosevelt in which he stated,
"A clique of U.S. industrialists is hell-bent to bring a fascist state to supplant our democratic government and is working closely with the fascist regime in Germany and Italy. I have had plenty of opportunity in my post in Berlin to witness how close some of our American ruling families are to the Nazi regime.... A prominent executive of one of the largest corporations, told me point blank that he would be ready to take definite action to bring fascism into America if President Roosevelt continued his progressive policies. Certain American industrialists had a great deal to do with bringing fascist regimes into being in both Germany and Italy. They extended aid to help Fascism occupy the seat of power, and they are helping to keep it there. Propagandists for fascist groups try to dismiss the fascist scare. We should be aware of the symptoms. When industrialists ignore laws designed for social and economic progress they will seek recourse to a fascist state when the institutions of our government compel them to comply with the provisions."
Roosevelt used his powers as President to stop fascist infiltration of the U.S. economy. On the 20th of October, 1942, he seized the assets of the Union Banking Corporation. The shares of the bank were owned by Prescott Bush, E. Roland Harriman, and three members of the Nazi Party. Under the Trading with the Enemy Act, the government took over the Union Banking Corporation and the Silesian-American Corporation, a company that had been managed by Prescott Bush and his father-in-law George Herbert Walker.
President Eisenhower, though a Republican, supported social safety programs. He wrote a letter to his brother Edgar on Nov. 8, 1954, which read in part:
"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."
JFK also actively stood for progress and peace, and against the takeover of America by wealthy interests. Four of his prominent speeches illustrate this:
April 27, 1961 : Following the Bay of Pigs, a flawed operation concocted by the CIA to trap the President, Kennedy spoke out against secret organizations: "Secrecy is repugnant in a free and open society. There is a very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning"there is a monolithic, ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence." This was a direct shot at the CIA and its culture of secrecy. He also put on notice those organizations whose members had accumulated undue influence over government agencies and, by extension, the American people. Organizations like Skull and Bones, Bilderbergers, Freemasons, the Council on World Affairs, et al, had infiltrated all spheres of the government.
America since then : Two Skull and Bones presidents have presided over unnecessary wars which greatly profited their crony defense contractors. The CIA has operated clandestinely without oversight in foreign and domestic matters, enriching its corporate sponsors by overthrowing socialist and democratic governments around the globe; subverting the free press; drugging its own citizens; conducting illegal wars; and siding with totalitarian regimes.
June 10, 1963 : In a speech delivered at the American University commencement, JFK declares his intent to end the Cold War, not win it. He advocates for world peace and says, " What kind of peace do I see? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war. Total war makes no sense in an age"when the deadly poisons produced by a nuclear exchange would by wind and water and soil and seeds to the far corners of the Earth"every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace should"examine his own attitude towards the possibility of peace with the Soviet Union"Both [the U.S. and USSR] are devoting to weapons mass sums of money which could be better devoted to combating ignorance, poverty and disease"if we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity."
America since then: The Cold War lasted another quarter century, and JFK's vision of world peace never came about. Since November 22, 1963, war and the threat of war have been constants in American life.
To sum up, Kennedy's envisioned perpetual peace; what we got after his death was perpetual war.
September 2, 1963 : Speaking with Walter Cronkite about Vietnam, JFK said, "In the final analysis, it's their [the South Vietnamese] war; they're the ones who have to win or lose it." Just weeks later JFK issued National Security Action Memo (NSAM) 263, calling for total American withdrawal from Vietnam in his second term.
America since then : Three days after JFK's death, Lyndon Johnson rescinded NSAM 263 with his own National Security Action Memo (NSAM 273) which laid out the rationale for the Vietnam War. The war lasted 12 years and cost 58,000 American lives, hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese lives, and billions of American dollars.
October 22, 1963 : In a speech praising scientific advancements and research, JFK, in an age where political charlatans were ridiculed for denying or condemning scientific fact, lauded Americans' ""wholehearted understanding of the importance of pure science"" Kennedy encouraged scientists to find ways to ""protect land and water, forests and wildlife, to combat exhaustion and erosion, to stop the contamination of water and air by industrial as well as nuclear pollution, and to provide for the steady renewal and expansion of the natural bases for life."
America since then : Scientific research and discoveries are condemned as anti-religion (evolution) and anti-free enterprise (carbon emissions have caused climate change). Politicians and corporations with blatant agendas bully their way into public discourse, and are not denounced by media for what they are--regressive, ignorant, and greedy.