American regression

Every day the onslaught continues, more and more straw falling on the camel’s back. And Trump lending aid and comfort to Nazis and racists is just further evidence that we’re backsliding from decades-old principles. This is especially so when both he and Congress want to deprive millions of health insurance and make sure corporations and the wealthy pay less in taxes. Let’s look at from whence we’ve come.

Throughout World War II, America saw Nazism as a threat to freedom and American ideals. Yet even as the danger increased, President Franklin Roosevelt recognized there were some internal threats to freedom that needed attention. Eleven months before Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt gave his 1941 State of the Union address, now known as the “Four Freedoms” speech. Yet before enunciating the freedoms threatened by the Nazis and the world war, he detailed the “basic things” that are “the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy”:

  • Equality of opportunity.
  • Jobs for those who can work.
  • Security for those who need it.
  • The ending of special privilege for the few.
  • The preservation of civil liberties for all.
  • Increasing the coverage of Social Security and unemployment insurance.
  • Widening the availability of medical care.

These principles were so fundamental that not even America’s entry into the war undercut them. In his 1944 State of the Union address, Roosevelt said that true American freedom depended on economic security and independence. Echoing his speech three years before, he enunciated the following principles in a “Second Bill of Rights”:

  • The right to a useful and remunerative job.
  • The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation.
  • The right of farmers to raise and sell products at prices that will provide them and their families a decent living.
  • The right of businessmen to be free from unfair competition and monopolies.
  • The right of every family to a decent home.
  • The right to adequate medical care.
  • The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment.
  • The right to a good education.

Apparently, Trump and the GOP are ignorant of these ideas or reject them. To have moved so far from these principles over the last 75 years is dumbfounding. It’s the antithesis of progress — and our current political leadership demagogues only bring to mind Dante’s “abandon all hope.”

We cannot be content, no matter how high [the] 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.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1944 State of the Union address

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