Climate Memo Mondays
The NEW DEAL
The New Deal offered by the Democratic Party led by Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt during the 1930s radically extended US freedom, equality, and democracy, despite fierce reactionary, corporate, Republican opposition. I count some fifteen convictions, hopes, aspirations, and achievements, before WWII sidetracked this great burst of social idealism:
business to public accounting and regulation;
empowered the federal government to address the needs of working people;
mobilized and organized labor unions and fought for their rights;
broadened and leveled the “We” in “We the People”’;
established a social security system;
expanded the nation’s public infrastructure;
improved the environment;
cultivated the arts and refashioned popular culture;
enlarged equality of opportunities for youth and others;
increased jobs for those who can work;
expanded security for those who needed;
ending special privileges for the few;
preserving civil liberties for all;
expanding coverage of old-age pensions and unemployment insurance;
proposed adequate medical care and jobs for all who needed them.
On January 6, 1941, in his Annual Message
to Congress, Roosevelt summarized the New Deal’s ideals and strivings for “everywhere in the world” in the “Four
of speech and expression;
The third and fourth are less familiar and more radical: securing for every nation a healthy life for all the inhabitants and a reduction of armaments sufficiently to prevent national aggressions.
One year later the Four Freedoms became the nation’s war aims. This is the true basis calling WWII our nation’s “great generation.” And postwar the Four Freedoms continued to inspire the nation with fresh democratic convictions, hopes, and aspirations. For the New Deal had only begun when WWII began, and much was left to be accomplished.
Ahead lay continuation of the Four Freedoms in national health care proposals, further expansion of social security, laws against racial and religious discrimination, the civil rights and anti-poverty campaigns, organization of public employee unions, greater health care for elderly and poor, equal rights for women, reformed immigration law, greater regulation of corporations to protect the environment, workers, and consumers.
But corporations, the super-wealthy, and other generally Republican opponents of government regulation reset themselves with increasing success against democratic gains by deregulating corporations, reducing taxes of the rich, assailing labor unions, and neglecting public infrastructure, and in general delaying, containing, and rolling back the social democratic accomplishments of the New Deal.
In response to the approaching climate cataclysm caused by rising global temperature and national inaction, the GREEN NEW DEAL remembers New Deal hopes for enlarged freedom, equality, and democracy with proposals to abolish the fossil fuels capitalist economy, to do it equitably, and, because time is running out, quickly.
Harvey Kaye, The Fight for the Four Freedoms
Read Kaye’s book
Join a union or association (USPS Auxiliary e.g.)