It’s a question that is almost guaranteed to step up partisan rancor to new levels, particularly when a comparison is made between the legendary president and Democrat champion Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the highly polarizing Donald Trump.
Heredity gives me more than a passing insight into the only four-term president. I am named after my paternal grandfather, who was secretary to FDR.
As a result, my childhood home was filled with presidential memorabilia: letters from the president, photographs of the president with my grandfather, and records of his famous Fireside Chats that were the size of flying saucers. These were constant reminders that not only the first Marvin McIntyre, but also my grandmother and both my parents, knew FDR quite well.
Most historically aware Americans know that FDR was a truly transformational president. From the soaring optimism of his inaugural address in 1934, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” to his unconventional first 100 days, the president was a man on a mission.
Just a year before, the stock market had dropped more than 85%, more than half of the country’s banks had failed, and the scourge of unemployment was like a highly contagious disease. The Great Depression was choking the American spirit. In desperation, the people turned to a wealthy aristocrat, a physically disabled leader, to give them hope.
Unconventional? On Inauguration Day, FDR gathered his Cabinet in the White House office and had Justice Benjamin Cardoza swear them in as a group. Compare that to the wrestling match that President Trump must go through for every one of his appointees.
Just like President Trump, FDR hit the ground running. For the first 100 days, he kept Congress in session, almost hostage. As a result of his resolute will and persistent persuasion, a total of 15 bills were passed in that period. With Roosevelt, the challenges were obvious, and in spite of his critics, the people were behind him.
Is it heresy to compare the leader who ushered in the New Deal to our president of today?
How many presidents have dazzled us with their oratory and promised seismic change? Yet, how many have had the courage to fight against the status quo, lobbyists, and special interests. Donald Trump demonstrates a combination of plain language and no fear of any political third rail. Is it really an anomaly that a forgotten and angry America yearned for a transformational leader?
FDR’s Inaugural Address included the statement, “This nation asks for action, and action now.” The nation was desperate for a transformational leader.
Contrast that with President Trump’s promise: “We will make America strong again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. We will make America great again.” These are bold pledges, incapable of becoming reality without resolute will and persistent persuasion.
The most controversial president in decades promotes an aggressive agenda. His confident rhetoric and ambitious goals have fueled the stock market. However, in order to make our country stronger, the economy needs to grow at more than 2% a year, and wages need to rise faster than inflation.
The first steps toward achieving that goal are to reduce corporate income taxes and lessen burdensome regulations that are choking small businesses. In his first 100 days, President Trump has not only begun the process of eliminating unnecessary regulations, but he has also decreed that for every new regulation, two must be removed. Perhaps the president’s most ambitious proposal to make our country economically stronger is to simplify and reduce our personal income taxes and put more money in the pockets of the people.
To make America proud again is to return to the sense of unity that prevailed after 9/11. An honest nation is a proud nation. When we can count on our elected leaders doing everything in their power to fulfill their promises and put America first, then ultimately we may be able to decrease the ugly partisanship that divides our country.
In President Trump’s budget, he proposes over fifty billion dollars to be allocated for the defense of our country. Although he has been derided for the assertion that he will build a wall, there can be no argument with his purpose. He wants to make America safe. Again, there is a direct comparison to FDR’s four freedoms speech, in which he pledged freedom from fear.
President Trump’s final pledge is to make America great again. Greatness is in the eye of the beholder, but perhaps some common ground may be found. To be great, a nation must be fiscally sound. To be great, the most powerful nation in the world must be trusted by its allies and feared by its enemies. To be great, the wealthiest nation in the world must take care of those citizens who cannot take care of themselves.
Right or wrong, agree or disagree with his agenda, Donald Trump wants to be transformative. FDR said, “The test of our prosperity is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide for those who have too little.” Change must be inclusive, prosperity must be shared.
If President Trump’s ambitious agenda accomplishes his powerful pledge, “But my greatest compassion will be for our own struggling citizens,” then perhaps history will regard him as a truly transformational president.
(Newsmax wires services contributed to this report).
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