Most Democrats today have a romanticized view of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Rather than being the champion of the underprivileged and the poor, FDR was a capitalist to the core who advanced social programs to defuse social revolution.
There was a very real possibility that America would experience the same revolutionary ardor that swept Russia fifteen years earlier.
People were out of work and starving. There were bread and soup lines everywhere. Unemployment was more common than employment. There were no safety nets. The communists were gaining ground among the public. The Socialists were seen as a real alternative to the Democrats.
FDR’s programs were calculated to avert revolution.
Like Trump, FDR had a blurred vision of constitutional authority. When the Supreme Court ruled his programs unconstitutional, he attempted to pack the court by expanding its membership to 15 justices from the extant nine.
Like Trump, FDR was not fazed by racist support. He embraced segregation and ignored the oppression of blacks and women.
He forcibly sent Japanese Americans to internment camps, making Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the country to seem benign and enlightened in comparison.
Both FDR and Trump shared an almost messianic view of their roles in governing America.
FDR did manage to put safety nets in place and to put the country back to work through massive federal programs, whatever his motivations.
Trump may well be able to have a similar impact with his proposals to rebuild the country’s crumbling infrastructure and inner cities.
Trump and his populists are on a collision course with the Republican establishment. Trump is changing the Republican party from a party of big business to a party of the working poor and the middle class. He will try to keep everyone in the tent for as long as possible, but at some point Trump will be a bigger ally of progressive Democrats than of the Republicans in Congress.
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