January 6, 2023

Roots Run Deep

By Glenn

In October of 1929 the New York Stock market crashed and took down the global economy.  Conservative President Herbert Hoover chose to keep government help limited.  For the next three years the economy remained in free fall.

This horrible experience taught voters that something had to change.  Millions of people realized that they had the power to make their lives better.  They elected Franklin Delano Roosevelt President and a Congress dominated by liberals.

FDR and Congress ignored conservative crying.  They got to work alleviating the immediate pain, reigning in Wall Street abuses and creating a safety-net for the future.  Not only did the economy turn around but America avoided the cyclical depressions of the past.

After World War Two ended the New Deal programs laid the foundation for the greatest period of progress in human history.  FDR set a new standard:  “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.”

Sensible Republicans saw the obvious reality of this success and helped build America.  Men like President Dwight Eisenhower and Chief Justice Earl Warren protected federal economic programs and expanded Civil Rights. 

This bipartisan effort led to federal investments in computer technology, space exploration and highways.  Public education and universities flourished.  Women and minorities gained equal rights under the Civil Rights laws.  A rising tide was lifting most boats.

Unfortunately, a small minority of conservatives continued to whine about the new prosperity and freedoms.  At first this minority was divided into both the Republican and Democratic parties.  Those divisions allowed Congress to pass Medicare and a Civil Rights Act.

Ronald Reagan, a California politician and Hollywood actor, failed to rally opposition to Medicare.  Alabama Governor George Wallace failed to muster opposition to the Civil Rights Act.  The 1970s energy crisis, however, brought these two factions together.

Both pointed to “big government” as the problem facing America.  By 1980 the memory of the Great Depression had faded enough for voters to forget how far the country had progress and opened their ears to limited government.  Fortunately for Reagan Conservatives, his Presidential victory coincided with new oil fields coming into production in Alaska and the North Sea.

As energy prices fell globally, conservatives claimed credit and attacked the very programs that built middle class prosperity and security.  Those attacks have been persistent for the past forty years.  While most have failed to turn back the clock, conservatives have successfully redistributed wealth from the middle class to bankers and corporate executives.

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