At some level, I believe I’ve gleaned most of my notions about life from pulp culture in one form or another. One of those, from the Robert Redford movie, Jeremiah Johnson, is the notion that you can measure a man’s stature by the greatness of his enemies.
In any case, that was the synapse that fired when I was reminded of the FDR speech (Madison Square Garden 1936) wherein he welcomed the hatred of his enemies.
For nearly four years you have had an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up.
We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace: business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.
They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.
Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me – and I welcome their hatred.
That speech was delivered a little over 73 years ago – almost as long as the Indiana Toll Road lease! – and much of it sounds like it could have been delivered yesterday:
#[The American People] “sought escape from the personal terror which had stalked them for three years. They wanted the peace that comes from security in their homes: safety for their savings, permanence in their jobs, a fair profit from their enterprise.”
#They wanted peace in the community, the peace that springs from the ability to meet the needs of community life: schools, playgrounds, parks, sanitation, highways‹those things which are expected of solvent local government. They sought escape from disintegration and bankruptcy in local and state affairs.
#They sought fairer wages, an end to long hours of toil, and the elimination of wild-cat speculation.
For twelve years this Nation was afflicted with hear-nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing Government. The Nation looked to Government but the Government looked away. Nine mocking years with the golden calf and three long years of the scourge! Nine crazy years at the ticker and three long years in the breadlines! Nine mad years of mirage and three long years of despair! Powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of government with its doctrine that that Government is best which is most indifferent.
As I say, much of it could have been delivered yesterday, except that there are precious few politicians on our national landscape who welcome the hatred of such enemies. If you measure their worth against the power of those they stand against, you will find most wanting. The triangulation and political calculation of the Bayhs, the Liebermans, the Nelsons, Landrieus, and Specters, and – to a certain extent – President Obama himself, you find a group of politicians standing for nothing, falling for anything, and allowing the country to drift back into the control of the policymakers who (aided and abetted by that honor roll of Senators, I suppose) brought us America’s lost decade of 2000 – 2010.