Why doesn't Bernie simply invoke FDR?

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    • #272099
      Bernin4U
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 398

      I still don’t understand. When attacked with “Socialism!” or “Too far left!” or “Not a Real Democrat!”, why doesn’t he just respond with, “Let me tell you about this guy, you may have heard of him, we elected him to be our president FOUR TIMES, we put his face on our dime…”?

      On edit: As they say, if you have to explain yourself, you’re doing it wrong. Getting himself bogged down in explaining “socialism,” rather than simply framing himself well, seems like a weaker approach.

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    • #272105
      ozoneman
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 302

      I wonder the same, though he does mention FDR at times. Perhaps he wants recognition based his own merits, not relying on FDR?

      “If I went to work in a factory the first thing I’d do is join a union.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

      “We are trying to construct a more inclusive society. We are going to make a country in which no one is left out.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

      “Here is my principle: Taxes shall be levied according to ability to pay. That is the only American principle.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

      “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 little.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

      “If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships – the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

      “I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

    • #272109
      RufusTFirefly
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 2,296

      A few thoughts:

      1. Advocating for something called a Green New Deal invites an obvious comparison without Bernie’s having to make the connection explicit.

      2. If Bernie conjures up FDR, count on the corporate-sponsored Bernie Haters to accuse him of delusions of grandeur.

      3. Keep in mind that although it saved capitalism, the New Deal did not serve people of color well at all. (This is a key improvement in the Green New Deal.) Once again, you can count on Bernie’s detractors to bring up this inconvient truth.

      4. The people in power in both government and the corporate world are basically the same gang whose hatred FDR welcomed.

       

      By the way, comparisons to FDR remind me of Bernie’s notorious “billionaires shouldn’t  exist” quote. The fact is that FDR had a similar philosophy, although in his case it was people who made more than $25,000. Roosevelt came very close to instituting a 100 percent top tax rate. In 1942 he declared that  “no American citizen ought to have a net income, after he has paid his taxes, of more than $25,000 a year.” However, Congress pushed back, and they compromised with a top tax rate in the mid 90s, a rate that persisted, not only through Roosevelt’s administration but also through the administrations of Truman and — surprisingly — Eisenhower!

       

       

      • #272169
        Bernin4U
        Participant
        • Total Posts: 398

        Hi @rufustfirefly,

        (1) Sure, clearly it’s not named that by accident. But how many voters know anything about GND, beyond it’s presumably big, something to do with “green,” and something to do with “the old New Deal (whatever that was)”? It’s not like the press cares to talk about it (being it’s a direct assault to their corporate masters). Which is why we only hear about “how ya gonna pay for M4A?”.

        (2) Kind of like the Repubs claiming Obama had a Jesus complex? Maybe. But again, the whole point is framing. He should not be afraid to highlight the history of FDR during his time (and stop giving voters credit for actually knowing anything) re: ND, Soc Sec, high marginal tax rates, etc, so they see we’ve been through all this before, and it worked out quite well, thank you very much. It would shut down the whole “Bernie is crazy extreme left” as well as “it will turn us into Venezuela/Cuba/China/Russia.”

        (3) Sure, and the Japanese internment camps, etc. But that’s probably getting a little into the weeds overall. And again, it’s all about how big programs and better tax structures are nothing new, succeeded extremely well, and were fought tooth and nail by the establishment. Bernie is never saying he is FDR. Simply that the programs worked, and the media only wants you to be afraid of them (and unaware of our history) because it doesn’t help their 1% owner class.

        (4) Yes, and what better history lesson?

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    • #272112
      KenTankerous
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 914

      I recommend bombing info@berniesanders.com with this. They really are doing their best to listen. I’ve been asked multiple times: why doesn’t Bernie emphasize the FDR example more strongly? It’s maddening.

      He also needs to explain how M4A will cost everybody less in the aggregate. He keeps getting attacked with this stuff, I’d really like to see both issues addressed more strongly.

      I thought his riff on corporate socialism was an improvement.

      "If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States."
      - Henry A. Wallace
      (FDR's Vice President until he was forced out by the corrupt forces of obscene wealth.)

      • #272223
        ozoneman
        Participant
        • Total Posts: 302

        I think you are right, and I was so glad to hear Bernie say that. You only get a minute in these debates, and Bernie is an excellent debater.

        That association needs to be pressed by Bernie, but not all at once, more of a steady drip.

    • #272156
      Mr. Mickeys Mom
      Moderator
      • Total Posts: 3,376

      … clean AIR, clean WATER…. A livable PLANET…. That’s enough of a reason for anyone who uses reason and not advertising or negative campaign ads.

      Hell, no... I'm not giving up...

    • #272159
      RobertFromNC
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 91

      Personally, I do think Bernie in addition to those running on his platform should invoke the legacy of both Roosevelts as well as the progressive era movements and politicians more. I think that we would reach even more people this way.

    • #272179
      MizzGrizz
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 1,884

      …that most boomers and younger have no firsthand knowledge of FDR?It would be like talking about Abe Lincoln to Roosevelt voters.

      Though,to be fair, that generation knew history a little better than current Americans do.

      • #272196
        Yanath
        Participant
        • Total Posts: 1,282

        Most people outside his base, @mizzgrizz, have little if any historical or political awareness, and it’s they who he’s really trying to speak to with his message. Funny how it’s the working-class movements that are the most aware, even as they are considered the least educated. Chomsky explains in his writings how it is the educated and the intellectuals who are usually the most intensely indoctrinated.

      • #272299
        The Red Menace
        Participant
        • Total Posts: 1,080

        Though,to be fair, that generation knew history a little better than current Americans do.

        Remember, public schooling wasn’t really a thing at the time. You learned history mostly from word of mouth and church (Genesis was real!) What history books were available were hugely editorialized, especially regarding things like the civil war.

        I guarantee you that most people today pick up more solid knowledge of history incidentally than people in the 30’s and 40’s generally managed even with moderate study.

    • #272217
      ozoneman
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 302

      🙂

      FDR and Bernie are linked in so many ways. The extreme disparity in wealth and the failure of the banking system are just as important now as during the Great Depression. So, we will need a champion to help us out like FDR.

      FDR had no way of knowing about climate change, and so in this day, the Green New Deal serves to address the climate change issue, while providing 20 million jobs, in the same way the Civilian Conservation Core did during the Great Depression.

    • #272222
      Bill Haywood
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 138

      I have no idea if Bernie’s personal ideology is socialist or not. At one time, when younger, his ideas and agitation were more in line with that. The political program he puts forth now, for all intents and purposes, is not. The foundation of Democratic Socialism is anti-capitalist. Bernie’s program is not. This is not to knock Bernie or what he’s trying to do. It’s welcome from many camps of leftists. He’s done more to bring parts of a leftist program (we welcome all reforms to strengthen the working class for future battles) into the mainstream than most over the last several years and it’s a good thing. That said…  appropriating socialism and leftism as part of his program does neither him, leftists, or the working class any favors. The anti-capitalist movement in this country has a rich and storied history all it’s own. Without that as the wind in the sails no reform was ever accomplished despite the illusions of the Democratic Party. Bernie Sanders and Progressives ARE NOT the radical left. By planting their flag there it limits the terms of discussion and negotiation. Everything moves to the right when Bernie Sanders and the progressive movement is called the radical left. You could drive a hundred tankers between the gulf of separation between the political ideology of Teddy Roosevelt and Eugene Debs for example.

      • #272262
        Stockholmer
        Participant
        • Total Posts: 500

        I finally have some company in terms of a critique of Sander’s false labelling as a democratic socialist when he, (or at least the entirety of his POLITICAL programmes and policy proposals) now, in 2020 is simply reciting and pushing bog standard social democrat thematics.

        I do think we are coming at this false labelling charge from different parts of the spectrum however, as I am a UK/Swedish citizen and most definitely not ant-capitalist at my core. I am a big believer in the Nordic Model of a vibrant but highly regulated capitalist component  in regards to the bedrock makeup of our overarching socio-economic milieu.

        The chief danger (besides your very valid positing of his setting up artificial boundaries on the left that apriori limit the extent of the debate) for me is that he opens the door to a huge amount of plazzy red-baiting in the reactionary zeitgeist that is America. Inside the stultifyingly dull and woefully provincial outlook of tens of millions of US voters is the auto-leap made via flaccid cognitive processes (processes and worldviews that have almost no power of discernment) that results in a massive (accompanied by foaming at the mouth in many cases)  conflation between the socialist label and ranting on about COMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

         

         

        What FDR Understood About Socialism That Today’s Democrats Don’t

        He ruled at the height of government activism, but saw ideology as something to fear, not embrace.

        https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/08/16/democrats-socialism-fdr-roosevelt-227622

        President Franklin D. Roosevelt arrived at Franklin Field on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in characteristic style: beaming, from the back seat of an open car. He had earned this smile. It was June 27, 1936, and he had just been re-nominated by acclamation in the smoke-filled Philadelphia Convention Center a few blocks away. It was, arguably, the high-water-mark of his career. Thanks to the monumental initiatives of Roosevelt’s first term, it was also a moment of transcendent significance in the nation’s history, though none of the 100,000 people sweating in the yellow-brick football stadium realized it. This was the pinnacle of American socialism, by that or any other name.

        In the four years just past, Roosevelt had transformed the purpose of the United States government, making it a constant companion in the lives of Americans. The Social Security Act of the previous year was merely the crowning achievement. Roosevelt’s initiatives, meant to curb the misery brought on by the Great Depression, directly funded millions of government jobs, employing everyone from photographers to brush-clearing conservation workers. To pay for this, he raised the income tax—which hadn’t even existed two decades earlier—to 75 percent on the highest incomes. The rich were subsidizing the poor, and that was A-OK with FDR.

        The giant crowd bristled with excitement to hear their hero defend these policies. What followed was his so-called “Rendezvous with Destiny” speech, which historians rank among the greatest of his career, a tall order from the man whose oratorical roster included “nothing to fear but fear itself,” and “a day that will live in infamy.” But while those speeches perfectly captured individual moments, Roosevelt’s “Rendezvous with Destiny” speech came far closer to revealing his inner theories and motivations: Never before or after would he lay out his vision in greater clarity.

        That vision included one truly insistent message: He was not a socialist.

        Though he never used the term socialism in his speech, Roosevelt’s anger at those who accused him of ideological motivations, of applying an economic theory that was anathema to the United States, exploded from the lectern. In line after line, the fiery president defended his actions as pragmatic responses to the real, glaring needs of a changing society. The rich who criticized him, who cloaked their greed in an affinity for capitalism, were dangerously missing his point. He knew the ideological threats of communism and of fascism were real, and were overtaking democracy in European countries. An etched-in-stone commitment to the status quo would be an invitation to extremists everywhere. By fulfilling the government’s obligation to assist its people, he was instilling confidence in the American system. He was vindicating the Founding Fathers.

        snip

         

         

        “Is the New Deal Socialism?” by Norman Thomas

        Norman Thomas was the most prominent spokesperson for the Socialist Party of America in the 1930s and 1940s. He ran six times for president on the SP ballot line. Recently, an article by Seth Ackerman of Jacobin magazine argued that Thomas acknowledged that President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs had socialist aspects and this, essentially, is why Bernie Sanders isn’t wrong to invoke the New Deal legacy when he uses the term “democratic socialism.” Nevertheless, the pamphlet from 1936 that we partially reproduce here makes it clear that Thomas didn’t think that the New Deal equaled socialism and that Roosevelt was no socialist.

         

        What FDR Understood About Socialism That Today’s Democrats Don’t

        He ruled at the height of government activism, but saw ideology as something to fear, not embrace.

        https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/08/16/democrats-socialism-fdr-roosevelt-227622

        President Franklin D. Roosevelt arrived at Franklin Field on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in characteristic style: beaming, from the back seat of an open car. He had earned this smile. It was June 27, 1936, and he had just been re-nominated by acclamation in the smoke-filled Philadelphia Convention Center a few blocks away. It was, arguably, the high-water-mark of his career. Thanks to the monumental initiatives of Roosevelt’s first term, it was also a moment of transcendent significance in the nation’s history, though none of the 100,000 people sweating in the yellow-brick football stadium realized it. This was the pinnacle of American socialism, by that or any other name.

        In the four years just past, Roosevelt had transformed the purpose of the United States government, making it a constant companion in the lives of Americans. The Social Security Act of the previous year was merely the crowning achievement. Roosevelt’s initiatives, meant to curb the misery brought on by the Great Depression, directly funded millions of government jobs, employing everyone from photographers to brush-clearing conservation workers. To pay for this, he raised the income tax—which hadn’t even existed two decades earlier—to 75 percent on the highest incomes. The rich were subsidizing the poor, and that was A-OK with FDR.

        The giant crowd bristled with excitement to hear their hero defend these policies. What followed was his so-called “Rendezvous with Destiny” speech, which historians rank among the greatest of his career, a tall order from the man whose oratorical roster included “nothing to fear but fear itself,” and “a day that will live in infamy.” But while those speeches perfectly captured individual moments, Roosevelt’s “Rendezvous with Destiny” speech came far closer to revealing his inner theories and motivations: Never before or after would he lay out his vision in greater clarity.

        <b>That vision included one truly insistent message: He was not a socialist.</b>

        Though he never used the term socialism in his speech, Roosevelt’s anger at those who accused him of ideological motivations, of applying an economic theory that was anathema to the United States, exploded from the lectern. In line after line, the fiery president defended his actions as pragmatic responses to the real, glaring needs of a changing society. The rich who criticized him, who cloaked their greed in an affinity for capitalism, were dangerously missing his point. He knew the ideological threats of communism and of fascism were real, and were overtaking democracy in European countries. An etched-in-stone commitment to the status quo would be an invitation to extremists everywhere. By fulfilling the government’s obligation to assist its people, he was instilling confidence in the American system. He was vindicating the Founding Fathers.

        snip

        <b>“Is the New Deal Socialism?” by Norman Thomas</b>

        <i><b>Norman Thomas was the most prominent spokesperson for the Socialist Party of America in the 1930s and 1940s. He ran six times for president on the SP ballot line.</b> Recently, an article by Seth Ackerman of Jacobin magazine argued that Thomas acknowledged that President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs had socialist aspects and this, essentially, is why Bernie Sanders isn’t wrong to invoke the New Deal legacy when he uses the term “democratic socialism.” <b>Nevertheless, the pamphlet from 1936 that we partially reproduce here makes it clear that Thomas didn’t think that the New Deal equaled socialism and that Roosevelt was no socialist.</b></i>

        https://newpol.org/is-the-new-deal-socialism-by-norman-thomas/

        Mr. Roosevelt and his followers assume that prosperity is coming back because of the New Deal. Al Smith and the rest of Roosevelt’s assorted critics assume that it is in spite of the New Deal and perhaps because of the Supreme Court. Mr. Hoover plaintively protests that the catastrophic depression of January – February, 1933, was due merely to the shudders of the body politic anticipating the economic horrors of the New Deal.

        As a Socialist, I view the Smith – Roosevelt controversy with complete impartiality. I am little concerned to point out the inconsistencies in Al Smith’s record, or to remind him that in 1924 and 1928, when I happened to be the Socialist candidate for high office against him, more than one of his close political friends came to me to urge me as a Socialist not to attack him too severely since he really stood for so many of the things that Socialists and other progressive workers wanted.

        But I am concerned to point out how false is the charge that Roosevelt and the New Deal represent socialism. What is at state is not prestige or sentimental devotion to a particular name. What is at state is a clear understanding of the issues on which the peace and prosperity of generations — perhaps centuries — depend. A nation which misunderstands socialism as completely as Al Smith misunderstands it is a nation which weakens its defense against the coming of war and fascism.

        But, some of you will say, isn’t it true, as Alfred E. Smith and a host of others before him have charged, that Roosevelt carried out most of the demands of the Socialist platform? This charge is by no means peculiar to Mr. Smith. I am told that a Republican speaker alleged that Norman Thomas rather than Franklin D. Roosevelt has been President of the United States. I deny the allegation and defy the allegator, and I suspect I have Mr. Roosevelt’s support in this denial. Matthew Woll, leader of the forces of reaction in the American Federation of Labor, is among the latest to make the same sort of charge.

        Roosevelt Not Socialist

        Emphatically, Mr. Roosevelt did not carry out the Socialist platform, unless he carried it out on a stretcher.
    • #272306
      ravensong
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 2,099

      Bernie Sanders argued Wednesday that the United States is at a moment as urgent as the one it found itself in during the 1930s: Authoritarianism and oligarchy are on the march across the world, he said, and the best way to defeat them is with an emphatic break from the mainstream politics of either party.

      In a major campaign speech designed to counter critics of his democratic socialist ideology, the Vermont senator proposed a “21st century economic Bill of Rights” that would ensure the right to a decent job, health care, affordable housing, higher education, secure retirement and a clean environment.

      Sanders, whose family members were killed in the Holocaust, also reminded audience members that tens of thousands of Nazis gathered in 1939 “not in Berlin, not in Rome — but in Madison Square Garden, in front of a 30-foot-tall banner of George Washington bordered with swastikas.” But instead of falling for fascism, he said, Americans followed the path of New Deal liberalism.

      “We rejected the ideology of Mussolini and Hitler. We instead embraced the bold and visionary leadership of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt,” he said. “Together with organized labor, leaders in the African-American community, and progressives inside and outside the party, Roosevelt led a transformation of the American government and the American economy.”

      https://www.politico.com/story/2019/06/12/sanders-democratic-socialism-fdr-1362539

      “A lie doesn't become truth, wrong doesn't become right, and evil doesn't become good, just because it's accepted by a majority.” ~ Booker T. Washington

      The truth is, there’s no such thing as being “anti-Fascist.” Either you are a decent human being with a conscience, or you are a fascist.
      ~ Unknown

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