Franklin Delano Roosevelt, or FDR as almost the entirety of the United States knows him, is one of the best known figures in American politics and history. He has the distinct honor of being the only American president to ever be elected four separate times by the people – not only because of his almost unmatched ability to lead a country in times of crisis, but his also for his charisma and transformation of the presidential office. His New Deal plan jump started a country badly in need of a leader and helped make it what it is today.
With our country today barely on its way out of an economic downturn, to say the least, I feel it??™s important to honor those who have helped get us out of the most serious of positions in the past, and FDR is near the very top of that list. Obama is often compared the FDR in terms of how he is trying to help the country, but to fully understand that comparison it??™s important to recognize exactly how much Roosevelt did for the country to bring it out of the depression. Presidents before and since have faced difficult situations but for times of economic crisis, FDR is the measuring stick against which all presidents since have been and will be measured.
Imagine, for a moment, living in the great depression. The unemployment rate is 25%. Millions are without money, food, or homes. Jobs are scarce, difficult, and low paying. It??™s easy to see times now and say they??™re bad, but they??™re nothing compared to waiting in lines through the winters for weak soup.
Roosevelt??™s first election in 1932 was based almost completely around the idea of a ???New Deal???, economic programs specifically drafted to heal the badly damaged economy. People were so desperate and hopeful during his first election that he won 42 states of the possible 48. Their trust in him was well placed. Roosevelt??™s New Deal brought about a new era. Programs such as the Works Progress Administration, the Federal Housing Administration, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or FDIC, were the backbone of a plan that brought America back to its golden economic times.
Almost everyone had jobs again. Unemployment dropped to under 2%. FDRs plan paid workers to feed the hungry and the children, set up parks, public theaters, bridges and roads, and made a new and more stable infrastructure.
It is also important not to forget that while in the midst of rebuilding the country, Roosevelt was also the commander in Chief of the US armed forces during one of the most violent and trying wars of all time: World War II. His policies during the war were integral in an allied victory over the axis powers. His plans increased US war output drastically, funding and arming allied powers across the Atlantic far before the US ever declared war.
Not only was he a very skilled politician policy-wise, he was also incredibly charismatic. He was one of the first people to effectively use mass media to calm a panicked nation. His 30 or so ???Fireside chats??? reached around 90% of the United States, using the newest tool at his disposal: the radio. His talks were comforting and helped keep peoples hopes up and their support high in a way that no president had been able to do before. His use of the presidential office transcended the constitutional basis for it and gave it a newer power of persuasion that brought the country together for one cause. Almost all presidents since have tried to follow in his footsteps.
Roosevelt??™s policies and political decisions during the mid-20th century are in history books as an example of the exact right way to do things. He unified the citizens of an entire country to bring it out of a depression, and all but won a world war. His actions serve as a reminder of what we can do as a country when we put our minds to it, and, in my opinion, qualify him as one of America??™s greatest presidents.
Mankowski, Diana, and Raissa Jose. “The 70th Anniversary of FDRs Fireside Chats.” _The Museum of _ Broadcast Communications. 12 Mar. 2003. Web. http://www.museum.tv/exhibitionssection.phppage=79.