FDR and the Second Bill of Rights
by Richard J. Garfunkel
FDR Understood the Need to Expand the Bill of Rights in the Post War Era!
There are always important historical parallels. As George Santayana said, “People who do not learn from history, are condemned to repeat it!” If your child was hurt in an accident, or in a hospital, or was a victim of malpractice, and the state capped your claim, and the cost ran into hundreds of thousands per year, you would not be happy. There are thousands of similar situations, that happen annually, that are not in any way connected to some woman spilling coffee on her pudenda! Most times the individual needs representation to receive justice. If you think insurance companies do not like to limit claims then you should just read the newspapers.
Being well-off and being a so-called liberal should not condemn a person to be a “traitor to one's class.” Not all rich people, who are liberal, are limousine liberals. It is the little guy who needs support in the courts. It is the little guy that needs to be protected from corporate excess, and it is not just the “liberal” guy who needs protections from the “state.” That is what the Founders of this great country knew right from the start. That is why the “Bill of Rights” is essential to America and the world. Without the “Bill of Rights” the Constitution is just a piece of paper setting up the structure of government. The Constitution with the “Bill of Rights” is the essential document.
Edwards may be a “trial lawyer” or a “personal injury lawyer”, but people need his type of service all over this land. Ironically the well-off person should be more liberal. That person should be more sharing, more giving and less defensive about what he/she owns. “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” The 2nd Inaugural, January 20th, 1937-FDR. Should we have a society where the the rich only live in “gated communities” because they are so fearful? Hollywood, big-business and Madison Avenue are run not by liberals. They are run by business men/women who cater to sponsors, who are highly sensitive to the market, and the fear the specter of “secondary boycotts.” They make and shape most of the policy in our country and society. Rights alone to do not cause social friction or cultural upheaval.
It is the limitation of rights that is the ultimate injustice. Great leadership, of which we do not have with any stretch of the imagination, needs to balance and temper the interests of all parties. I believe sincerely in rights with responsibility. But to say that conditions and realities have departed far from the 1940's begs the issue. Justice whether world-wide or at home is the ultimate salvation of civilization. We must always deal with the current and immediate threat and terror. That is only practical. But we must never lose sight of the ultimate problem, injustice breeds contempt, disillusionment and social upheaval.
Bush, FDR strikingly dissimilar on policies at home
Date: Thursday, August 26 @ 00:00:55
In the last few weeks, the nation has devoted a great deal of attention to the “greatest generation” and its successful fight against fascism.
But something important is missing from the celebration: the distinctive vision of the leader of that generation, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and his effort to connect the idea of security with protection against human vulnerability
in all its forms.
In his eloquent remarks inaugurating the World War II memorial in Washington, President Bush insisted, “Across the years, we still know his voice.” But do we? Let's listen to him.
On Jan. 11, 1944, the war effort was going well. Ultimate victory no longer was in serious doubt. The real question was the nature of the peace.
At noon, Roosevelt sent the text of his State of the Union address to Congress. Ill with a cold, Roosevelt did not make the usual trip to Capitol Hill to appear in person. Instead, he spoke to the nation via radio — the first and only time a State of the Union address was also a fireside chat.
Roosevelt began by emphasizing that the war was a shared endeavor in which the United States was simply one participant: “This nation in the past two years has become an active partner in the world's greatest war against human slavery.” The war was in the process of being won. But mere survival was hardly enough. Roosevelt insisted that “essential to peace is a decent standard of living for all individual men and women and children in all nations.”
Roosevelt looked back, and not entirely approvingly, to the framing of our Constitution. At its inception, the nation had grown “under the protection of certain inalienable political rights — among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.” But these rights had proved inadequate. “We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all — regardless of station, race, or creed.”
Then he listed the relevant rights:
“The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation.”
“The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation.”
“The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living.”
“The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad.”
“The right of every family to a decent home.”
“The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.”
“The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident and unemployment.”
“The right to a good education.”
Roosevelt's radio audience, the members of the greatest generation, knew exactly what he was doing. He was building on his 1941 catalog of the Four Freedoms — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want and freedom from fear — which, in Roosevelt's account, must be enjoyed “everywhere in the world.”
President Bush has increasingly attempted to link the war against terrorism with Roosevelt's struggle against fascism. But the contrasts between the two leaders is striking. It was the threat from abroad, after all, that led Roosevelt to a renewed emphasis on human vulnerability and on the importance of “security” — with an understanding that this term included not merely protection against weapons, bullets and bombs, but also against hunger, disease, illiteracy and desperate poverty.
In the midst of World War II, the greatest leader of the greatest generation had a project, one that he believed to be radically incomplete. That project is captured in FDR's Second Bill of Rights. Reclaiming it would be the best way to celebrate the victors in World War II.
Cass R. Sunstein teaches at the University of Chicago
This story appeared in The Daily Herald on page 2.
This article comes from The Daily Herald
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