Wednesday, September 01, 2010

What Would I Give To Hear A President Say These Words...

My friend Batocchio of Vagabond Scholar is celebrating his 5-year blogiversary, and in stopping by to add my congrats, I read one of his fine posts, "We Cheat the Other Guy and Pass the Savings To You". In it, he links to one of the greatest speeches I have ever heard, one that breaks my heart every time I hear or read it. It is by the President who got us out of the Great Depression, and gave America a middle class that lasted for a large part of the 20th century - perhaps the greatest and most prosperous middle class we have ever known, or ever will know. In 1936, at Madison Square Garden, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave this speech to an America which was still struggling to climb out of the Depression, but was beginning to make progress. I quote a part of it below - the text of the speech in its entirety is here, as well as the audio of Roosevelt speaking it.
Tonight I call the roll - the roll of honor of those who stood with us in 1932 and still stand with us today.

Written on it are the names of millions who never had a chance‹men at starvation wages, women in sweatshops, children at looms.

Written on it are the names of those who despaired, young men and young women for whom opportunity had become a will-o'-the-wisp.

Written on it are the names of farmers whose acres yielded only bitterness, business men whose books were portents of disaster, home owners who were faced with eviction, frugal citizens whose savings were insecure.

Written there in large letters are the names of countless other Americans of all parties and all faiths, Americans who had eyes to see and hearts to understand, whose consciences were burdened because too many of their fellows were burdened, who looked on these things four years ago and said, "This can be changed. We will change it."

We still lead that army in 1936. They stood with us then because in 1932 they believed. They stand with us today because in 1936 they know. And with them stand millions of new recruits who have come to know.

Their hopes have become our record.

We have not come this far without a struggle and I assure you we cannot go further without a struggle.

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.

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.

I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master.

What would I give to hear those words come from a President today?


Alessandro Machi said...

Hillary Clinton was/is the real middle class president candidate.

Alessandro Machi said...

make that "presidential" candidate.