Get busy winning

Get busy winning, Digby’s Hullabaloo, Tom Sullivan

Or get busy watching freedom die . . .

Blue America‘s Howie Klein (Down With Tyranny) points to an old idea still current and still popular: FDR’s proposed Economic Bill of Rights (1944). Our political bill of rights, FDR saw, was inadequate for assuring “equality in the pursuit of happiness.”

“I see one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished. 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.”
January 20, 1937

As a record number of people die on America’s streets, Abdul Curry fights to stay alive.

Howie excerpts FDR’s speech:

It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people— whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth— is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights— among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however— as our industrial economy expanded— these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all— regardless of station, race, or creed.

Howie adds:

Yesterday, DATA For Progress released a poll showing that most Americans are still waiting for our political elites to carry out what FDR asked for around 8 decades ago. Their results show that 69% of likely voters support an Economic Bill of Rights— and not just normal people. Even 51% of Republican voters favor it! That includes 87% of voters who agree that Americans have a right to healthcare (including 82% of Republicans). Next week, Bernie and Pramila are going to roll out a Medicare-for-All proposal. Although Republicans have been brainwashed by Fox to oppose those words, 56% of Americans support it, including a third of Republican voters.

Other findings:

  • 74% of voters support a federal jobs guarantee.
  • 81% of voters support the right to a preschool education and 72% support the right to a college education.
  • 72% support the idea of building enough housing that would ensure all Americans a decent place to live.
  • 79% support the right to a basic income (including 71% of Republicans).
  • 63% support the right to basic banking services (through the post office)
  • 66% support the right to unionize (including even 44% of GOP voters)

Like efforts to stop the daily mass slaughter, these ideas enjoy solid majority support. That 80 years after FDR we still cannot muster the political will to deliver on them Roosevelt condemns from his grave. They won’t be remedied by surrendering our liberties to strongmen or to oligarchs.

“We must scrupulously guard the civil rights and civil liberties of all our citizens, whatever their background. We must remember that any oppression, any injustice, any hatred, is a wedge designed to attack our civilization.”
January 9, 1940

“They [who] seek to establish systems of government based on the regimentation of all human beings by a handful of individual rulers…call this a new order. It is not new and it is not order.”
March 15, 1941