Franklin D. Roosevelt
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“”It is difficult to find a reputable American historian who will acknowledge the crude fact that a Franklin Roosevelt, say, wanted to be President merely to wield power, to be famed and to be feared. To learn this simple fact one must wade through a sea of evasions: history as sociology, leaders as teachers, bland benevolence as a motive force, when, finally, power is an end to itself, and the instinctive urge to prevail the most important single human trait, the necessary force without which no city was built, no city destroyed.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (30 January 1882–12 April 1945) was the 32nd President of the United States (March 4, 1933 - April 12, 1945). As his full name is seven or eight syllables long (depending on whether you pronounce his last name as "rose-velt" or "roh-suh-velt"), his name is often abbreviated to just his initials, FDR, leading to a tradition of sorts among Democrats: JFK, LBJ, AOC, and so forth. He was the fifth cousin of Theodore Roosevelt, so many southern Democrats mistakenly thought they were voting for Teddy. Coincidentally, Franklin married his fifth cousin once removed.
FDR was "liberal" (in the classical, European sense) in that he was pro-free trade, but economically illiberal below the international level, believing in heavy taxation, regulation, and a comprehensive safety net to distort and alter market forces that he felt harmed the working class. Socially, he was reasonably liberal on sex and race for the time, but rounded up the Japanese, put them into camps, and turned away Jewish refugees. Calling him "liberal" is common but pretty meaningless. It's better instead to call him a social democrat, as he sought to "save capitalism from itself" in the face of fascist hordes on the right and communist revolutionaries on the left.
Notably, he is also the last American President to have been fluent in a language other than English — French and German. He is considered one of the best American Presidents in history, so modern democrats ritually compare themselves to him whenever possible, even when they are much more moderate.
War and the Depression
FDR is most well known for guiding the country through the Great Depression[note 1] and preparing the nation to fight in World War II. He is also the only president who has ever served more than two terms, having been elected to four terms, although he died in office early in his fourth term.[note 2] This unprecedented run inspired the 22nd Amendment; unless this amendment is repealed, no president will again be elected to serve more than two terms. They could serve more than two terms if they were the Vice President and their President is, for whatever reason, unable to discharge his or her duties. It is required, however, that the vice president serve less than half a term for eligibility.
Internment of minorities
Roosevelt was infamous for trying to "pack" the Supreme Court and signed Executive Order 9066 that sent those of Italian, German, and Japanese descent (but also those considered "Japanese," like Koreans and Taiwanese) on the West Coast to internment camps. Seemingly hoping to inspire the government to bestow the same fate upon Muslims in America, Wingnut "author" Michelle Malkin even wrote a book In Defense of Internment as apologetics for internment... an FDR achievement that conservatives seem slightly grateful for.
Pinko commie policies
“”The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.
|—Franklin Roosevelt, pinko commie, second inaugural address|
He was and is to this day hated by the American right-wing who claim his "Communist" policies damaged the country, and, by extension, since the United States is all that matters, the world. The assertions by conservatives that FDR's policies were "communist" are, of course, complete bullshit; he didn't even manage to nationalize any businesses (except for the TVA, which supplies power to the Tennessee Valley and is still owned by the federal government today). He did, nevertheless, start a social welfare program (government takeover of the pension industry!) that's still in effect today and remains widely popular.
A more effective accusation sometimes made is that he sold out Eastern Europe to Stalin late in WW2. This accusation does have more basis in truth in that Roosevelt exhibited some remarkable ignorance and wishful thinking about the Soviet Union and Soviet policy, but ignores inconvenient military facts that limited his options, like the great preponderance of ground power the Red Army acquired by that stage of the war or that it was in physical control of Eastern Europe. That made the whole thing less of a "selling out" and more of a "fait accompli". Indeed, there is no evidence that Roosevelt did it because he was a Soviet agent or sympathizer.
The man in the chair
“”"I won't stand for this!" — FDR, on polio
|—Uncyclopedia being (gruesomely) witty for once.|
When Roosevelt was 39, he contracted polio (or possibly Guillain–Barré syndrome). He was effectively paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of his life.[note 3] His illness was downplayed during his presidency
because people really were shallow enough not to vote for a disabled man to maintain a better public image. Surprisingly, he never got round to creating real-life Daleks (too far?). Had he lived longer, till the 1950s, he would probably have appreciated the fact that Jonas Salk invented the polio vaccine then donated it to the public domain, paving the way for the virtual eradication of this dreadful affliction, when he could have made a fortune patenting it.
- For alternate history, see Amity Shlaes
- He's also had the most vice presidents in John N. Garner, Henry A. Wallace, and Harry S. Truman.
- This didn't stop him from practically dragging himself up a gravel driveway every day in an attempt to partially recover. Whatever your opinion of the man, you have to admit that he deserves a tip of the hat.
- Johnson, George. "Once Again, a Man with a Mission" New York Times. November 25, 1990.
- Hiltzik, Michael. "On Jonas Salk’s 100th birthday, a celebration of his polio vaccine" Los Angeles Times. October 28, 2014.