Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the 32nd President of the United States. He is regarded as the leader most responsible for protecting the country against economic collapse, military terror and for preserving democracy.
1. F.D.R. was loved because he believed in and fought for the “forgotten man” (and woman). He was a man who radiated personal charm, showed joy in his work, and was optimistic about the future of the country and those who lived in it.
2. Not everyone liked F.D.R. In fact, he was hated by many who did not agree with the changes that he introduced. He proposed changes to reduce the power, status, income and self-esteem of those who profited most from the ways that the government had been organized.
3. Historians and political scientists agree that F.D.R. should be ranked, with Washington and Lincoln, as one of our three greatest Presidents. Even Republicans have come to applaud F.D.R. as a most successful Democratic president.
4. F.D.R. was not always a man of good reputation. He did not argue against accusations that he was at times devious, guileful, manipulative, evasive, dissembling, underhanded and even ruthless. However, he used these characteristics to get things done, he used his knowledge of how the political system worked to bypass the fundamental shortcomings and hesitations of the political system in order to get the most necessary of objectives met quickly. F.D.R. stood for humanity against ideology. After all, it was the ideology of men like Stalin, Lenin and Hitler that lead to such horrible atrocities in their respective realms of influence. F.D.R.’s goal was to find practical ways to help men and women to make a happier world for themselves and their children.
5. When Roosevelt came to office in 1933, a quarter of the labor force was out of work, the gross national product had almost been cut in half and the people were talking of an imminent revolution. Dangerously, many American’s were seeing that only communists were happy. F.D.R. rose to the challenge and restored confidence in the American people that they could again seize control of their future and the future of the country.
6. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” introduced measures for social protection, regulation and control. Roosevelt ensured that benefits like Social Security, unemployment compensation, public works, securities regulation, rural electrification, farm price supports, reciprocal-trade agreements, minimum wages and maximum hours, guarantees of collective bargaining and worked to change the perception of these benefits.
7. Before F.D.R., the U.S. had had a depression every 20 years or so. Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” was instrumental in assuring that the country’s economy was stabilized against major depressions. Roosevelt’s plan worked as the country was preserved against major depressions for more than a half-century.
8. F.D.R.’s education was unique in that he was able to learn much from the personal influence of two other U.S. Presidents. Theodore Roosevelt, his kinsman (a fifth cousin), taught him national-interest, balance-of-power geopolitics. Woodrow Wilson, whom he served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, gave him the vision of a world beyond balances of power, an international order founded on the collective maintenance of the peace.
9. F.D.R. fought a brilliant war, due in part to a number of different factors. First of all, he picked an extraordinary team of generals and admirals who advised him wisely when it came to strategic decisions. Following the war, Roosevelt was wise enough to not make the same mistake twice when it came to allowing the country to again revert to isolationism after the war, as had happened following World War I). Lastly, F.D.R. played a role in ending some of the most dangerous dictatorships in the world at the time. Both Hitler and Stalin were stopped in their plans for world domination and their empires were broken.
10. In retrospect, we see that we would be a very different country today were it not for President Franklin Roosevelt and his commitment to preserving democracy. In thinking of the type of world leaders that existed 60 years ago, it is quite amazing that the leadership of the United States has remained free from communist ideals and the hands of dictators. F.D.R. is largely to thank for that.