There is a mystique on the Liberal-Left about the legacy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, voiced most eloquently in Bernie Sanders’ recent speech about what it means to be a democratic socialist. Many progressives including myself think of the New Deal as central to our heritage, and FDR’s proposed Economic Bill of Rights as a platform for the future.
Often ignored, however, is the paramount fact that FDR was a war president. After Pearl Harbor, he fought the Germans, Japanese and Italians every day until the surrenders. I remember sitting on my mother’s lap while she listened to his fireside chats, and how she told me he was keeping us safe. Four hundred nineteen thousand Americans of my Marine father’s generation died during that mission to keep kids like me safe.
Lincoln was a war president too, leaving 620,000 dead in the cause of ending slavery and launching Reconstruction. These are realities well worth pondering today as we edge into a war with ISIS. The choices may come down to these in 2016:
- The election of an American war president who preserves and enhances Obamacare, Social Security, labor and civil rights, and public education;
- Election of a right-wing war president who terminates the New Deal and civil rights legacies as “unaffordable.”