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Can Progressive Democrats Resurrect FDR’s Second Bill of Rights? (w/ Harvey Kaye)


On the line with us, we’re gonna get back
to your calls in just a moment on anything goes friday, but on the line
well this is Harvey Kaye, Professor of Democracy and Justice Studies at the
University of Wisconsin-green Bay. The author of numerous books, his latesttthe
Fight for the Four Freedoms- What made FDR and the Greatest Generation Truly
Great. Today is the 75th anniversary of FDR’s Second Bill of Rights. His Twitter
handle is @HarveyJKaye and his website well that’s his Twitter handle.
Harvey welcome back to the program it’s nice to have you on. So I don’t think
most Americans even know that a sitting president of the United States 75 years
ago today called for free college education for everybody, free healthcare
for everybody, and an absolute guarantee that your job will pay you enough that
you can have a standard a reasonable standard of living, along with two other
things its that shows you how effective the suppression of memory has been by
conservatives and how much the the left or liberals at best have turned their
backs on a tremendous legacy the legacy we ought to be reviving today yeah oh
man so tell us about it and when I ran for president originally 1932 he first
called for an economic Declaration of Rights and I don’t know how many people
actually took him seriously when he said that but I think he was sincere even at
that time and then in 1941 when the United States had yet to enter World War
two he delivered the same Union message which called for at least the pursuit of
a world characterized by four essential freedoms freedom of speech and
expression freedom of worship freedom from want and freedom from fear and it
did become the sort of I think sort of philosophy of the war effort but I still
don’t think people were quite ready to take him as seriously as he probably
intended it and then in 1944 in the State of the Union message with the
intention of running again for president that year he put even more emphasis on
those four freedoms by elaborating and stating in his in that message Jesus
means this Bill of Rights second Bill of Rights or an economic Bill of Rights and
really it became not a sort of you know handy device in the
State of the Union message but the CIO the Cong you know the Congress
Industrial Organizations they actually lost a major a major campaign that year
in 1944 making that eye vision of a second Bill of Rights the heart of the
campaign they went out they were going to organize people to vote they issued
pamphlets I mean it was a tremendous project on their part and of course
FDR won once again the fourth time for president now I can tell you that that
kind of speech was not welcomed by Republicans and and was not necessarily
welcomed by Southern Democrats and FDR was under no illusion that he would be
able to see the enactment of that second Bill of Rights he was calling for
however he did envision the possibility that after the war those kinds of
freedoms those kinds of right would become part of American public discourse
and possibly enacted in various forms and I’ll just add though it did not
happen in that way of course the GI Bill of Rights which was enacted in 44 or 45
became very much the basis upon which the United States took off after World
War two and literally created the middle class right it was with with with all
these things so go through the five the the the five elements of the second Bill
of Rights actually calls I’ll just read a few of the lines the right to earn
enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation and notice and
recreation right you can take a vacation every year yeah exactly exactly that was
essential for not only economic security but for it for well-being he actually
mentions the right of every farmer to raise the sellers produce better give
him and his family a decent living every family to a decent home how’s that for a
concept right guaranteed housing that’s right right right to adequate medical
care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health which I think goes
back also to that idea of recreation right similarly he talks about the right
to adequate protection from the economic spheres
of old age sickness accident and unemployment and by no means the least
of them the right to a good education and let’s not forget let’s not forget
that FDR himself in this in that GI Bill of Rights envisioned the education and
the training of an entire generation of young Americans who had enlisted and
fought or been drafted and fought in some fashion in World War two and that
that involved up to 16 million young Americans and he accomplished that by
the way I mean and you bet twelve million of the veterans which included
men and women actually took advantage of those things and as I said it really did
lead to the development of not only a phenomenal higher education system the
United States because college is necessarily expanded but also generation
literally improve themselves radically transform themselves and the nation at
the very same time and I would also add that that dition of the second Bill of
Rights also comes up as part of a Great Society initiatives of the nineteen
sixties of LBJ yeah oh man right so hopefully as more and more Democratic
candidates are stepping forward to talk about yes I would like to be president
we already have yeah we’ve got several so far Elizabeth Warren was first to
announce it looks like Pamela Harris is gonna be next sherrod Brown is making
some noises these are all good solid progressives who I would I would think
would be 100% behind the second Bill of Rights and and in my opinion it’s time
for the Democratic Party to return to its FDR roots and just start overtly
saying these kinds of things remind people that in November of 2015
Bernie actually gave a scheme to Georgetown University which was
nationally streamed in which he reminded Americans of FDR’s second bill of rights
our economic Bill of Rights I can readily imagine aoc you know because
you’re Cortes resurrecting these things I mean I thought it’s worth you know
tweeting this as much as I can to get the word out I noticed there’s an
article in the nation today I mean there is discussion mmm
a smart a smart set of Democrats we need a vision and this would be the
that kind of vision yeah man Harvey Kaye professor of democracy and justice
studies at the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay the author of the fight for
the Four Freedoms among other numerous and brilliant books my favorite of all
the things you’ve written is your book on Thomas Paine what was the title of
that again Thomas Paine and the promise of America still alive as well so they
can find it in various places there you go Harvey and you can tweet ahem at
Harvey jkka ye Harvey thanks so much for being with us thank you come anytime
thank you my pleasure good great talking with you it’s it’s a marvelous day

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