Watching American President Barack Obama deliver the State of Union address the other day, we could not help but relate some of the early part of the speech to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. FDR was already President of the United States when we were born. He, more than any other American, was the leader who brought America to greatness in the world. We can only reflect today on how that greatness has been trampled.
Roosevelt said it as far back as May 1932 when addressing a commencement at Oglethorpe University. Three years before, the greed of Wall Street had taken the nation’s economy into a tail spin and FDR said: We need to correct, by drastic means if necessary, the faults in our economic system from which we now suffer.
FDR was working to correct those faults when interrupted by World War II. He had to set that work aside to provide the leadership to help win that war. In the process, he made an imperfect America the strongest nation on earth.
Addressing much the same issues as FDR, Obama laid out a smorgasbord of ideas for Congress the other evening. He talked about his nation’s military might, America’s ability to solve problems, the need for ideas not ideology and the need for people to work to common goals. Yet you looked at the faces of the Republicans that the cameras scanned throughout the chamber and the feeling of depression grew.
America is a nation that has forgotten humility. It has become a nation without compassion. It is a nation that commits aggression of raw, brutal economic power. It believes it owns the world and lets business abuse it. It stands proud against the evil empire of communism but fails to win in the rice paddies of Vietnam. It treats the Middle East countries as pawns while building their hatreds. America fails as a peacekeeper because it threatens war.
You can only admire the effort that Barack Obama is putting into restoring some of that greatness, restoring the ideal that can be America. For, in many ways, America has been built on ideals. In the land of the free, the ‘Occupy’ movement rose against the top one per cent of Americans who controlled 40 per cent of the nation’s income last year. This is a land of spacious skies where people fly on wings of paranoia. Where people wrap themselves in a brave flag and go to a tea party for the lunatic fringe.
Regrettably, Barack Obama is no black Franklin Roosevelt. The world has gone through too much since FDR addressed the issues. Now it is President Obama’s turn. We can only hope he wins.
Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry
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