Franklin Delano Roosevelt Visionary Harvard University

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt Visionary,James T Kloppenberg. Elizabeth Borgwardt A New Deal for the World America s Vision for Human. Rights Cambridge Mass Harvard University Press 2005 437 pp Notes. bibliography illustrations and index 35 00, Cass R Sunstein The Second Bill of Rights FDR s Unfinished Revolution and Why. We Need It More than Ever New York Basic Books 2004 vii 294 pp Notes. bibliography and index 25 00 cloth 16 95 paper, Visitors to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington D C find. themselves face to face with FDR s boldest challenge to the American people. Carved in the granite walls of the Memorial are the Four Freedoms that FDR. proclaimed in January 1941 Joined to the Freedom of Speech and Freedom. of Worship guaranteed by the original Bill of Rights are two new freedoms to. be secured by Americans then confronting new dangers Freedom from Want. and Freedom from Fear The two books under review address the history and. significance of those latter freedoms which remain as elusive in 2006 as they. were sixty five years ago Most Americans today lulled into smug contentment. with their role as consumers rather than citizens and provoked by endless. harangues into demonizing a shadowy and little understood enemy seem as. determined not to confront the reasons behind the problems of want and fear. as FDR was determined to force the nation to face them FDR s urgent calls. for greater equality at home and for a multilateral approach to global affairs. may seem as quaint as the cape he wears in sculptor Neil Estern s powerful. portrayal of the president at the Memorial, Cass Sunstein s and Elizabeth Borgwardt s books are particularly valuable. now when the distance separating American politics from the principles of. FDR has rarely seemed greater These books matter in part because they dem. onstrate so clearly something that has been in doubt for several decades now. As I ve tried to signal with the title of this review Sunstein and Borgwardt. both show that Franklin Roosevelt did indeed have ideals both for domestic. politics and foreign policy Countless historians have shown that FDR was. a deft politician shrewd in maneuvering friends and foes but awareness of. that skill should not distract us from the evidence of his guiding principles. Reviews in American History 34 2006 509 520 2006 by The Johns Hopkins University Press. 510 REVIEWS IN AMERICAN HISTORY DECEMBER 2006, so forcefully presented by Sunstein and Borgwardt No less an authority than.
Harry Hopkins testified that the Four Freedoms speech showed the real. Roosevelt and these books confirm that judgment At least from the mid. 1930s until the end of his life FDR was animated by ideals that provided the. criteria by which he wanted the members of his administration to evaluate the. success or failure of the multiple experiments he prodded them to try Those. principles were effective freedom and more equal opportunity at home and. greater security achieved through international cooperation abroad The first. could not be achieved without sustained government intervention to prevent. the unregulated market from rewarding some while shutting out others the. second required the United States to relinquish its cherished unilateralism and. join other nations to prevent war and spread prosperity. In The Second Bill of Rights Sunstein characterizes FDR s January 11 1944. State of the Union Address as the greatest speech of the twentieth century. and laments that it is not better known today At that moment with the Al. lied invasion of Italy bogged down and great naval victories in the Pacific still. months away FDR was already thinking about America after the war and its. place in the world He reported on the recent negotiations with Great Britain. the Soviet Union and China that had set the allied powers on course toward. international cooperation both during and after the war He excoriated those. Americans with selfish and partisan interests who had tried to profit from. the war and those who had sought to avoid the prodigious sacrifices it. required If there was ever a time to subordinate individual or group selfish. ness to the national good FDR proclaimed that time is now Looking. forward he envisioned an America in which the fruits of economic growth. would be more widely shared We cannot be content no matter how high. that general standard of living may be if some fraction of our people whether. it be one third or one fifth or one tenth is ill fed ill clothed ill housed and. insecure pp 235 44, In order to meet that goal FDR proclaimed a second Bill of Rights made. necessary by the expansion of America and the transformation of its economy. from agricultural to industrial We have come to a clear realization of the fact. that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and inde. pendence Certain economic truths have become accepted as self evident. According to FDR Americans had learned that their political rights must be. supplemented by economic rights under which a new basis of security and. prosperity can be established for all regardless of station race or creed. Americans in 2006 might be surprised by the rights FDR believed their par. ents and grandparents had eagerly embraced His second bill included the. following rights, KLOPPENBERG Franklin Delano Roosevelt Visionary 511. 1 to a useful and remunerative job, 2 to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation. 3 of farmers to sell their products at a price that would yield a decent living. 4 of businesses to be protected from domination by monopolies at home or. 5 of every family to a decent home, 6 to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health. 7 to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age sickness accident. and unemployment and,8 to a good education Sunstein pp 242 3.
Such ambitious plans were greeted with shrieks from conservatives who had. resisted the New Deal from the beginning Tough minded historians such as. Alan Brinkley and David M Kennedy have agreed that since such ambitious. plans had no chance of success in the political climate of 1944 FDR could not. have been serious about this second Bill of Rights. Sunstein disagrees as do I One of his generation s most learned and prolific. scholars of constitutional law Sunstein constructs a brief to establish his case. first for the solid legal and historical foundations on which FDR s argument. rested and second for its continuing significance in our own day Although. some readers might challenge his claim for its contemporary relevance his. sturdy arguments concerning the basis of the economic bill of rights merit. attention from American historians, Sunstein quotes Enlightenment figures from Locke and Montesquieu to. Smith and Paine to the effect that extremes of wealth and poverty are inimical. to popular government Since so many American conservatives now treat the. writings of Madison and Jefferson as sacred texts it is worth quoting just a. single passage from each to give a hint of the tune sung by the chorus Sunstein. has assembled One can combat the evil of parties Madison wrote first by. establishing a political equality among all and then by withholding un. necessary opportunities from a few to increase the inequality of property by. an immoderate and especially an unmerited accumulation of riches How. should that be done By the silent operation of laws which without violat. ing the rights of property reduce extreme wealth to a state of mediocrity and. raise extreme indigence toward a state of comfort p 116. Madison s ally Jefferson identified the best mechanisms to achieve that end. I am conscious that an equal division of property is impracticable But the. consequences of this enormous inequality producing so much misery to the. bulk of mankind legislatures cannot invest too many devices for subdividing. property which is why Jefferson sought to abolish entail and primogeniture. But he did not stop there Another means of silently lessening the inequality. of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point and to tax. the higher proportions of property in geometrical progression as they rise. 512 REVIEWS IN AMERICAN HISTORY DECEMBER 2006, Whenever there is in any country uncultivated lands and unemployed poor. it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate. natural right pp 115 9 Madison and Jefferson have seldom been invoked as. founders of graduated taxation or the earned income tax credit but Sunstein. makes a good case for the proposition that FDR saw himself completing the. work of the first Bill of Rights, The brief reign of laissez faire in America Sunstein correctly points out. lasted only from the end of the nineteenth century until the New Deal and. even then it was subject to repeated challenges at the local state and federal. level The myth that the United States has been an Eden of unregulated eco. nomic activity is Sunstein insists bad political economy and even worse his. tory Economists from Adam Smith to Friedrich Hayek and Amartya Sen have. agreed that all economic activity indeed all preservation of property requires. the active intervention of government authority in the form of predictable and. enforceable law No one benefits as much from the institutions of the state as. its wealthiest citizens which renders the shrill denunciations of government. intrusion into the marketplace incoherent as well as disingenuous Dismissals. of laissez faire as a tangle of confusions to use Sunstein s term do indeed. have a long lineage Such critiques in various forms lay behind many reforms. in the half century preceding the New Deal They inspired not only progres. sive reformers insistence on government regulation on behalf of the public. interest but also the rise of legal realism which originated in the pragmatism. of William James and John Dewey emerged in the contrasting pragmatist. jurisprudential styles of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr and Louis Brandeis ma. tured in the writings of Robert Hale and Morris Cohen and manifested itself. in the positions taken by justices such as Felix Frankfurter and Charles Evans. Hughes In Sunstein s view it was not the 1923 decision in Adkins v Children s. Hospital which invalidated minimum wage legislation for women and children. but West Coast Hotel v Parrish which in 1937 reversed Adkins on the minimum. wage that expresses the dominant strand of American jurisprudence The deep. American commitment to private enterprise has only rarely prevented courts. from recognizing that law must regulate the operations of the workplace and. the marketplace If anything less than socialism fails to meet the standard for. appropriate government intervention then it is true that America has been a. haven of free enterprise But from the operation of poor laws to the exercise of. the police power to regulate economic activity in antebellum America to the. ratification of the New Deal by the Supreme Court in West Coast Hotel there. is a long history of government intervention from which the few moments of. genuine laissez faire are striking deviations pp 3 18 33. Sunstein contends that FDR s commitment to an economic Bill of Rights. should be understood within those broader contexts of the legitimacy of. progressive taxation and regulation and within the narrower framework of. KLOPPENBERG Franklin Delano Roosevelt Visionary 513. FDR s progression as person and president FDR s own experience of polio. most observers agree gave him insight into a world of limitations unknown to. the jaunty patricians of his set His experience of the scope of the Depression. and his genuine desire to do something about it despite his not uncommon. inability to understand the dynamics of macroeconomics and his genuine. disgust for the dole bred in him a commitment to address the problem of. Sunstein traces the now clear evidence of that growing awareness He begins. with FDR s Commonwealth Club address in 1932 in which FDR acknowledged. that industrialization narrowed opportunity for some while expanding it for. others In his fiery speech at the Democratic National Convention in 1936. FDR talked about completing the American Revolution by expanding freedom. from the political to the economic sphere and securing a right to work for. all Americans Although Sunstein is careful to acknowledge the provisional. experimental and ad hoc nature of the New Deal in all its stages he also. points out that as early as November 1937 FDR provided a clear statement of. the objectives that he would seek for the remainder of his life including most. of the measures at the heart of his second Bill of Rights When he endorsed. first almost haphazardly and after 1941 more formally the Four Freedoms he. was committing himself and eventually Great Britain and the other Allied. powers as well through the Atlantic Charter to a version of the program. of social provision that every industrialized nation except the United States. adopted in the wake of WWII, Sunstein makes a convincing argument for the careful development of the. ideas that FDR eventually sketched in 1944 The National Resources Planning. Board NRPB headed by FDR s uncle Frederic Delano survived conserva. tive opposition from 1933 to 1943 and it provided the institutional locus for. Franklin Delano Roosevelt Visionary Kloppenberg James T Reviews in American History Volume 34 Number 4 December 2006 pp 509 520 Review Published by The Johns Hopkins University Press

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