Economic and Social Crisis in America: FDR Wasn’t FDR … Until His Hand Was Forced By Civil Disobedience
by Washington’s Blog
November 18, 2010
Progressives are disappointed that – contrary to the hype – Obama is no FDR.
But FDR himself wasn’t who we think of as FDR until he was forced by protests, strikes and other forms of civil disobedience.
As historian Howard Zinn wrote in March 2008:
In 1934, early in the Roosevelt Presidency, strikes broke out all over the country, including a general strike in Minneapolis, a general strike in San Francisco, hundreds of thousands on strike in the textile mills of the South. Unemployed councils formed all over the country. Desperate people were taking action on their own, defying the police to put back the furniture of evicted tenants, and creating self-help organizations with hundreds of thousands of members.
Without a national crisis—economic destitution and rebellion—it is not likely the Roosevelt Administration would have instituted the bold reforms that it did.
Today, we can be sure that the Democratic Party, unless it faces a popular upsurge, will not move off center. The two leading Presidential candidates [i.e. Obama and McCain] have made it clear that if elected, they will not bring an immediate end to the Iraq War ….
They offer no radical change from the status quo.
They do not propose what the present desperation of people cries out for ….
They do not suggest the deep cuts in the military budget or the radical changes in the tax system that would free billions, even trillions, for social programs to transform the way we live.
None of this should surprise us. The Democratic Party has broken with its historic conservatism, its pandering to the rich, its predilection for war, only when it has encountered rebellion from below, as in the Thirties and the Sixties. We should not expect that a victory at the ballot box in November will even begin to budge the nation from its twin fundamental illnesses: capitalist greed and militarism.