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In 2020, Reviving the Spirit of FDR

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/06/26/2020-reviving-spirit-fdr


This article reminds me of my ire when the terms liberal and conservative are used when neoliberal and neoconservative are more appropriate. Unfortunately, the TV audiences may not want to learn the differences and so the lowest common denominator prevails. And life goes onward into the fog…


Biden claiming to want to launch “an FDR style administration” is a vast improvement over Obama’s hollow “hope and change”, and “yes we can” chants, however, Biden’s terminology can mean anything he, you, or I want it to mean.

Although the author bemoans Truman’s failure to expand FDR’s visions after WWII, he ignores the fact that FDR’s New Deal regulations and programs remained fully intact until 1978 when Congress and Carter decriminalized securitization of mortgages without meaningful oversight provisions.

Not only did the New Deal remain intact, it also proved its worth for nearly half a century, including through its wholesale decriminalization and dismantling accelerated during Saint Ron’s regime, with maximum damage inflicted during Bill Clinton’s regime.

Unless Biden vows to restore all the New Deal regulations and programs dismantled during the past four decades and enhance them to adjust to 21st century America, we will simply witness what remains of the New Deal destroyed by a thousand cuts. Medicare for All was on FDR’s to do list when he died, so that needs to be the highest priority.


“Meanwhile, we should not ignore or simply scoff at Joe Biden’s statement that in view of the crises of Trump and the pandemic he plans to launch an FDR-style administration. We should push Joe on it, remember it, and hold him accountable to it.”

Right around 8 years ago I was arguing that Barack Obama did not deserve re-election due to his warmongering, his close ties to Wall Street bankers and his attempts to cut Social Security, among other things. Someone responded that we must re-elect him and all the other Democrats, and then “hold their feet to the fire.” I heard the identical argument for electing Hillary Clinton.

Someone please explain: How do we elect someone whom we know opposes everything we claim we want, give them a mandate to govern us, and then “hold their feet to the fire” to change a lifetime of neoliberal views and work for progressive causes? If a lifelong politician can be changed overnight by “holding their feet to to the fire,” why don’t we just hold Donald Trump’s feet to the fire and turn him into FDR?


Seeing how Obama in 2011 tasked his Simpson-Bowles catfood commission to cut social security and medicare, then tasked his DOJ to make everything Occupy Wall Street (OWS) did illegal so they would not re-emerge in Spring 2012, Obama indeed proved that he was unworthy of a second term.


I would suggest that Nichols and a lot of progressives have a distorted view of this history that omits the reasons why FDR and Wallace, et. al. turned to New Deal politics in the first place. This view suggests that it would be natural to “take back” the Democratic Party to whatever imagined principles the Party “that FDR built” once had.

I would suggest that by omitting the unprecedented pressures of a Socialist Party that had won almost a million votes during elections in the first three decades of the 20th century and was still growing in the 30’s; a strong Communist Party and allied labor movement pushing for much more radical change; and the profound misery and upheaval of the Great Depression and Second World War, these writers totally miss why FDR championed the New Deal. As I understand it, FDR was quite open about his intention of saving capitalism and staving off more radical action against the American business class.

In that context, the New Deal era was an aberration, not the norm, or even a point of equilibrium. The New Deal was a concession made in a time of extremis, to enact policies the party never embraced before or since. It is much easier to understand this 75-year trajectory of the Democratic Party, which has been waging a war of persecution and co-option (stick and carrot) against socialists and unravelling and scrapping New Deal politics and public expectations ever since the end of the Second World War.

I would very much like for radical change to happen. I believe our continued existence in anything resembling civilization depends on it. But I also believe in seeing things for what they are. I don’t see that there is any question of what “the soul” of the Democratic Party is. Certainly, there are members and (relatively powerless) voters and a handful of electeds who believe in such ideas as economic rights, universal programs, and working class politics. But the Party leadership is in no way obligated to listen to them, no matter what those people say in polls or how they vote in internal decision-making. Even if the Party loses every national election from now until the end of time, the Democrats will still control most cities and many states, and will continue to hold power and raise money and be wedded to the central principle (its only real principle) of making rich people richer.

The only way to change the Party is to build up the sort of independent power that existed back then and force the Party to adapt to it (by winning over its members to a new way of thinking). Putting AOC on a pedestal or blaming Bernie for not invoking FDR’s name, or “pushing” Joe to do things he has opposed for the last 40 years (what happens when you push something heavy without leverage?) is not going to change anything for the better.


YES! People ask me why I want to live “under Marxism/Socialism” because that’s what the Democrats(supposedly) want.the Democrats, like their buddies and co-workers, the Republicans, really do only want to make the rich richer. I may even have to change my voter registration to Independent, because the Democrats have moved so far to the right, or even to Social Democrat. Besides, the Democrats in Congress are, in no way, going to allow anything like “Socialism” get established.


What is today labeled “socialism” was labeled centrist from the 1930s to the 1980s. Sanders’ platform differs little from mid-century centrists like FDR, Truman, JFK, LBJ…

The corporate controlled gubmit agenda has moved so far to the right that Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford would be called socialists by today’s GOP and DNC.


This is simple----you want to get corporate money out of politics—these are bribes—but this seems off the table

-the next issue is healthcare----which should be universal—really we need Community Healthcare Centers in every neighborhood.–I think this is off the table

-next should be the end of the---- Industrial Prison System—do we even hear it called what it really is----Biden should be an expert on this issue

-and then there is MIC----the only person to promise no war is Trump???

So will Biden bring WWIII----because this was a big fear of Clinton.


I think that Truman gifted the CIA to the world---------which I think everyone, including Truman regretted doing that. : (


"Recognizing the President’s deteriorating health, those conservatives and reactionaries did not want a President-in-Waiting who they feared would aggressively revive the New Deal and seriously try to bring an end to white supremacy in Dixie.

FDR’s decision remains puzzling today. "

Why? right wing labor also dumped on Wallace.

Similar reaction from the same sources this year against Bernie.


Excellent reply. Sadly, FDR’s New Deal never did represent “the soul” of the Democratic Party and certainly doesn’t now. The “tea-partiers” were able to move the GOP further right because Fascism is apparently “the soul” of that party. The only way Progressives will move the DNC toward New Deal ideas is for the same desperate conditions and outside forces to recur - and no one should be advocating that!

Thanks for sharing John Nickols book and your critique. If only!! We cannot wait Until Jan 20 2021 to rid ourselves of Trump. Each day he tears something down of our democracy and will until the day he walks out of office leaving nothing but chaotic mess.

“we should not ignore or simply scoff at Joe Biden’s statement that in view of the crises of Trump and the pandemic he plans to launch an FDR-style administration. We should push Joe on it, remember it, and hold him accountable to it.”

Joe Biden is morally and mentally unfit to hold any office. Anyone who thinks he or his handlers have the slightest intention of pursuing a progressive agenda is delusional. Joe has a half-century record of not only going along with his right wing agenda, but leading it. To think he will do anything else is ludicrous. Colonial militarism, mass incarceration of poor people of color, the end of social security, Medicare, and the effective parts of Obamacare; passing measures like the Patriot Act (which he essentially wrote in draft form), a climate plan designed to allow civilization and the biosphere to collapse so that corporate/oligarch profits can be preserved for a few more years.

If either Trump or Biden is elected president there’s little hope of avoiding utter catastrophe. We have to make sure Bernie and a truly progressive VP are nominated and elected.

“since the launch of his campaign almost eight months ago, progressives have … learned that [Joe Biden’s] five-decade political record [1] is filled with one repugnant aspect [2] after another [3] after another [4] after another [5]."


“Biden is a compromised candidate who has depended on the media and his fellow candidates ignoring the growing list of personal scandals and red flags that surround him. He’s been credibly accused of sexual assault; [6] repeatedly encouraged people [7] to vote in the middle of a pandemic; regularly loses [8] his temper [9] with ordinary voters; [10] lies constantly about himself [11] and his political positions; [12] and has several pending family corruption scandals, including a brother accused of fraud [13] in court, over a scheme [14] in which he allegedly used candidate Biden as bait to lure a firm into bankruptcy.

…Biden has been on the wrong side of history on almost everything, has done profound damage to working- and middle-class people, and has an at best checkered record on the issues that today are assumed to most animate Democrats, like abortion rights and racial justice.“






[1] ~https://www.thenation.com/article/biden-delaware-way-graft/
[2] ~https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/06/20/staggering-frontrunner-status-clueless-and-shameless-joe-biden
[3] ~https://harpers.org/archive/2019/03/joe-biden-record/
[5] ~https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/07/politics/biden-1993-speech-predators/index.html
[7] ~https://jacobinmag.com/2020/03/joe-biden-bernie-sanders-coronavirus-primary-voting
[8] ~https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jan/29/joe-biden-go-vote-for-someone-else
[9] ~https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/election/article239752193.html
[10] ~https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/10/joe-biden-told-an-auto-worker-youre-full-of-shit-during-a-tense-argument-over-guns.html
[11] ~https://www.jacobinmag.com/2020/03/joe-biden-mainstream-media-lies-trust-reporting
[12] ~https://www.jacobinmag.com/2020/03/joe-biden-democratic-debate-post-truth
[13] ~https://www.politico.com/news/2020/03/09/james-biden-health-care-ventures-123159
[14] ~https://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/2019/08/02/joe-biden-brother-jim-accused-fraud-federal-lawsuit/1901987001/

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GATS basically made the entire New Deal FTA-illegal so our chance of actually reviving Depression era employment programs is nil. Instead various procurement deals funnel thse contracts to developing countries firms, focusing on the poorest COUNTRIES in a completely human rights agnostic way ends up helping the children of literally the people who set up and run most repressive regimes one could imagine.

the insiders children. They will often be the ones getting the jobs that should be going to our young people. This is because jobs are getting scarcer very quickly.

They will get the tax money we spend, not our own unemployed people. The politicians know this and they are lying to us, trying to get us to lower our guard.

If we want to help our own poor in any way whatsoever we must leave GATS, which blocks every single social program or restoral of public anything. Trying to create or expand virtually any public anything without leaving GATS will just destroy it. (Like Medicare and Social Security, both would be destropyed by trying to expand Medicare beyond the already retired.)
That is what TPTB want and they are way smarter than they are pretending to be. Biden - uless he comes clean on GATS (and he’s guaranteed not to, because its their plan to destroy the middlc class globally)

You who are hiding this and pretending GATS doesnt exist are going to have a lot of explaining to do when you destroy it, friends.

Why didn’t you follow the rules? To protect the biggest crooks ever?

How are you going to answer to the millions of young people who will at that point have had their future jobs outsourced.

No their debts cant be forgiven without leaving GATS first, nomatter what or who we vote for.

Thats what GATS does, it props up the worst in everything by preventing all needed changes.

Young people cant be compensated for losing jobs they never had, so will be SOL.

they will be buried in student debt with NO hope of ever getting a job with their degrees - unless they are the best in the world at what they do.

Small poor fish in a very big pool of rich people. Sharks.

Wake up.

Everything we know is wrong

How come none of those article mentions the root cause of rthe problem we need to deal with. Also it needs to be mentioned that if Biden does what most of progressives want right now, that would actually destroiy the safety net.


Sounds crazy, huh?

Give me fifteen minutes to show you why. Fifteen minutes. My sources are authoritative.

He can’t, His hands are tied by a trade agreement.

To get out of this deal we would need to leave it.
But to do that we need to admit we joined it and that its rigged our system for 25 years.

Sure, I’ll be over in a few minutes. Tea would be nice.

Of course I’ve already read your stuff, and have heard nothing from anyone else remotely like it–that we can’t get out of the treaty, blah blah. I know that makes you feel special and therefore necessarily right, (that’s called the Galileo gambit) but the truth is it’s a lot like the nonsense from climate denying delayalists, anti-renewable fanatics and others who think they have a private line to god that gives them exclusive rights to the truth.

“To get out of this deal we would need to leave it.”
Exactly. End of story.

Its not my fault most of the people in the US are being deceived. here’s proof. Look it up on some law books. I can give you more proof, its out there. Public Citizen’s site discusses this, for example.


" 1. Scope and Definition

(a) This Annex applies to measures affecting the supply of financial services. Reference to the supply of a financial service in this Annex shall mean the supply of a service as defined in paragraph 2 of Article I of the Agreement.

(b) For the purposes of subparagraph 3(b) of Article I of the Agreement, “services supplied in the exercise of governmental authority” means the following:

(i) activities conducted by a central bank or monetary authority or by any other public entity in pursuit of monetary or exchange rate policies;

(ii) activities forming part of a statutory system of social security or public retirement plans; and

(iii) other activities conducted by a public entity for the account or with the guarantee or using the financial resources of the Government.

(c ) For the purposes of subparagraph 3(b) of Article I of the Agreement, if a Member allows any of the activities referred to in subparagraphs (b) (ii) or (b) (iii) of this paragraph to be conducted by its financial service suppliers in competition with a public entity or a financial service supplier, “services” shall include such activities. (that means the generous deals are not allowed then- if they are part of the scope of GATS no good anything, it has to be limited to only the smallest group possible and time limited to the shortest amount of time feasible too. It has to be worse than the worst commercial deals so people with any money cant use it.) This is the US, this is a theocracy, and our God is MONEY, as shown by the Golden Bull on Wall St. It would be against our state religion to do it any differently. This is the part thats real and the rest is an elaborate scam on all of us. Maybe even fooling big parts of Congress.
Sorry. /end edit

(d) Subparagraph 3(c ) of Article I of the Agreement shall not apply to services covered by this Annex."

A word about the rigging of health related activities:

Rigging the healthcare system in particular is a crime against humanity because at least a million people have died here in the US. There are no statutes of limitations either in crimes against humanity.

We could get out of the treaty. Via the GATS Article XXI (21)

We may have to compensate some other countries, though. Yes, BUY our freedom. The longer we wait the more it will cost. Otherwise if we stay on today’s default path since its inherently a job trading deal potentially millions of jobs WILL be traded away, and it will hit our nation particularly hard because we have few of the protections most other rich countries have, and much less of a safety net. also, those jobs are the core jobs in many regions of the US. This has already begun with IT. But that is just the beginning, and its limited to no more than a million jobs or so by quotas, which are under attack.

It will be like NAFTA for the rest of the jobs.

Once-public services will be particularly hard hit.

Business is supposed to become more profitable but we cannot subsist on exports alone. Purchases will fall. Many will lose everything they have.

Foreign guest workers will lose hopes of ever making a decent wage too, along with us.


Procurement deals - quite similar may also block Green New Deal by obligating us to hire the lowest qualified bidders (in an international tendering process) when tax money is spent.

Environmental services seem to be particularly problematic, because they were the subject of a case against India by the US several years ago, for having a local jobs program, which we claimed discriminated…
Its hard to say.


We should not trade our country’s irreplaceable jobs away.