Politics

Obama and Roosevelt: Marching toward a socialist America
By Kerry W. and Peggy McCarthy

Is President Barack Obama the new Franklin Delano Roosevelt ?

Since taking control of the Oval Office, Mr. Obama has been compared to numerous past presidents. Some say he is like John F. Kennedy because of his youth and charisma. Others link him to Abraham Lincoln, since he is considered a symbol of the culmination of Lincoln’s civil rights efforts. In fact, Mr. Obama’s supporters are adept at latching on to any and every positive past presidential characteristic—no matter how superficial—in order to buttress their man. However, the most apt comparison of Mr. Obama to past presidents is to Roosevelt. The present administration anticipates success in pushing through bold new socialist programs to usher in an era of relief: a post-partisan, post-racial period led by a charismatic, beloved president.

Most Americans believe that programs initiated by Roosevelt during the Great Depression contributed to the recovery of the economy in the 1940s. The New Deal consisted of a mixture of initiatives such as the National Recovery Administration—which was found to be unconstitutional and disbanded in 1935—and others that offered government involvement but were not overtly collectivist in nature. For example, programs such as Social Security seemed to offer help to the individual and were consistent with the philosophy of individualism.

Taken separately, New Deal initiatives appeared non-threatening to the individual. However, New Deal programs not only increased the size of government, but also changed the relationship of the individual to government. They convinced people to look to a charismatic leader for solutions to problems, acclimated Americans to the idea of a strong federal government and set the stage for the kind of centralization that will take place if America becomes a socialist country. Effectively, the New Deal set the United States on a collectivist course.

The next big step toward collectivization was known as The Great Society. Medicare and anti-poverty programs initiated by President Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s were not recognized as expansions of the New Deal. They also were not seen as detrimental to the individual. On the contrary, Johnson’s plans were supported because they were seen as empowering disenfranchised, underprivileged individuals who deserved a helping hand. The acceptance and success of such measures emboldened liberals to consistently move the country to the left without any political fall-out.

With Mr. Obama as president and substantial Democrat majorities in both houses of Congress, liberals feel confident to make a final push for socialism. They hope the expansions of the New Deal that Americans have become accustomed to will serve as the foundation on which socialism will succeed.

However, the problem for the Obama administration is that the sweeping “reforms” proposed such as health care and cap and trade cannot be disguised as individualistic. They are easily recognized as collectivist and socialistic. And the public has taken note, as is seen with Mr. Obama’s downward-spiraling approval ratings. Democrats’ overwhelming desire to quickly establish socialism has incited public unrest.

Roosevelt’s genius lay in the fact that people didn’t see the inherently socialistic tendencies of the New Deal as threatening to individual freedoms. Although socialist in nature, Roosevelt’s policies were welcomed as a salve to the nation’s economic health and well-being. Now, however, the public clearly perceives Mr. Obama’s initiatives as an attempt to solidify the Democratic Party’s dominance and covertly advance socialism to the detriment of America.

Liberals do not recognize that their new programs go beyond what has been enacted in previous Democratic administrations. In fact, they have crossed a line that Americans who value individuality cannot accept. Mr. Obama's use of the Roosevelt model to enact progressive legislation could damage both their reputations and finally expose liberals as promoters of a socialist utopia.

Republicans have been trying to point out for 75 years that the New Deal and other similar programs would lead to socialism. Many critics of liberalism believe that Roosevelt’s programs put America on the road to socialism. To the public’s chagrin, Mr. Obama has taken up FDR’s socialist mantle and is now driving us there.

-Kerry W. and Peggy McCarthy are writers living in Indiana.