In 1936, our country was in an even more dire situation than we find ourselves in today. We were heading into the second dip of the Great Depression, with unemployment around 15%. The banking industry was fighting reforms, and monopolies ruled the economy.
But FDR didn’t let that stop him. He gave a now-famous speech at Madison Square Garden that challenged the idea that government was the problem:
For twelve years our Nation was afflicted with hear-nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing Government. The Nation looked to that Government but that Government looked away. Nine mocking years with the golden calf and three long years of the scourge! Nine crazy years at the ticker and three long years in the breadlines! Nine mad years of mirage and three long years of despair! Powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of government with its doctrine that that Government is best which is most indifferent to mankind.
For nearly four years now you have had an administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves. And I can assure you that we will keep our sleeves rolled up.
We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace: business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. And we know now that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob.
Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred.
As Fred Wickham points out, the parallels to the political situation today are manifold. The Republicans embrace government by organized money and want it to turn its back on the less fortunate. And Obama tries to appease them. As Wickham puts it “Obama, you do not need a speechwriter. It’s all here. You can say the same words.”