Home > Uncategorized > May Day – Time To Demand FDR’s Second Bill Of Rights

May Day – Time To Demand FDR’s Second Bill Of Rights

From The New Deal To The Green New Deal

Beyond The Biden-AOC Reforms


[Update: 5/3/21 – Read Chris Hedges’ “Don’t Be Fooled By Joe Biden” ~~~ end update]

With all the legacy media chatter about Biden’s First 100 Days and the repeated invoking of the history of the New Deal – and we realize that Biden is no FDR and that FDR certainly was no Socialist, but instead saved capitalism from the revolutionary forces unleashed by the Great Depression – we thought we might rehash the elements of FDR’s “Second (Economic) Bill of Rights”.

The political economy  and program of FDR’s New Deal and FDR’s Economic Bill of Rights have been lost completely in the current discourse, even by so called progressives like AOC and the activist proponents of the Green New Deal, like the Sunrise Movement.

That quasi-radical political economy of FDR’s New Deal was reflected in Bernie Sanders’ version of the Green New Deal – but that program and strategy have been co-opted by corporate Democrats and the progressive left, who have basically sold out to Joe Biden’s mild corporatist reforms.

Sanders’ GND was grounded in the need to challenge corporate and billionaire class power via democratic movement politics:

We cannot accomplish any of these goals without taking on the fossil fuel billionaires whose greed lies at the very heart of the climate crisis. These executives have spent hundreds of millions of dollars protecting their profits at the expense of our future, and they will do whatever it takes to squeeze every last penny out of the Earth. Bernie promises to go further than any other presidential candidate in history to end the fossil fuel industry’s greed, including by making the industry pay for its pollution and prosecuting it for the damage it has caused.

And most importantly, we must build an unprecedented grassroots movement that is powerful enough to take them on, and win. Young people, advocates, tribes, cities and states all over this country have already begun this important work, and we will continue to follow their lead.

I haven’t heard any of that from the Biden administration or its sycophants among the beltway green groups and “progressive left” (that includes AOC, The Squad, and the Justice Democrats, who all have folded completely and are all in with “bi-partisan Joe”).

So, it would behoove the media and so called progressives to reflect on not only Bernie Sanders’ vision of the GND, but on FDR’s Second Bill Of Rights, set forth in his State of the Union address to Congress on January 11, 1944 (emphases mine):

As our Nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

  • The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;
  • The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
  • The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
  • The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
  • The right of every family to a decent home;
  • The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
  • The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
  • The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.

Note that FDR recognized the relationship between economic insecurity and the rise of Fascism.

Note that FDR proposed universal rights – not identity politics based patronage.

Note that FDR recognized the relationship between economic security at home and “peace in the world” – and did so decades before Dr. King connected those dots in his famous “Beyond Vietnam” speech in 1967. King said:

A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor — both black and white — through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated, as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So, I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such. …

We must rapidly begin…we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. …

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. …

A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. …

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

Let us recall this rich legacy and reject the corporate Democrats and their minor reforms that are designed to co-opt real change.

We must move “beyond Biden” and identity politics – and look to FDR’s history in combining social and economic justice and activist government, in light of the climate emergency.

(photo above – Colorado River, Utah)

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