Franklin Delano Roosevelt, our 32nd, was many things. He was our longest-serving commander-in-chief, having been elected to and served into a fourth term.
He was also unequivocally a socialist. Sen. Bernie Sanders, himself a socialist aspirant to the Oval Office and lifelong admirer of FDR, said of him in a campaign speech in 2015:
Against the ferocious opposition of the ruling class of his day, people he called economic royalists, Roosevelt implemented a series of programs that put millions of people back to work, took them out of poverty, and restored our faith in government.
Sanders was partly right. Roosevelt did implement a series of programs under the umbrella of “The New Deal,” but as Jim Powell of the CATO Institute wrote in 2014, not all was sweetness and light.
[M]ounting evidence, developed by dozens of economists across the country, shows that the New Deal prolonged joblessness for millions, and black people were especially hard hit.
The flagship of the New Deal was the National Industrial Recovery Act, passed in June 1933. It authorized the president to issue executive orders establishing some 700 industrial cartels, which restricted output and forced wages and prices above market levels. The minimum wage regulations made it illegal for employers to hire people who weren’t worth the minimum because they lacked skills. As a result, some 500,000 blacks, particularly in the South, were estimated to have lost their jobs.
Despite FDR’s at-best-mixed legacy, he remains the score to beat among congressional Democrats, including the House’s newest socialist, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She so admires Roosevelt that she named her mammoth and impossibly expensive proposal for curing for all the nations ills the “Green New Deal.”
During a town hall on MSNBC, Ocasio-Cortez, waxed rhapsodic about the Roosevelt years and Democratic super-majorities in what she not so long ago called the “three chambers of Congress.” She also addressed the evil force — which she referred to as they”— that felt so threatened by all the joy and prosperity that “they had to amend the Constitution of the United States to make sure Roosevelt did not get re-elected.”
It’s an interesting little history lesson. It’s unclear how “they,” which one can only assume was the Republicans, managed the near-impossible feat of amending the Constitution when they were in the minority. Then again, it’s idle speculation since the 22nd Amendment, limiting presidents to two terms, came in 1947 — two years after FDR died in office.