The New Deal as new pragmatism

By Roosevelt Institute |

smiling-fdr-profile-200To mark Independence Day this year, produced an 18-part look on FDR and his legacy.

Among the many angles from which his life and legacy were considered, President Bill Clinton made this observation: Far from being the inaugural big-spending liberal, as he is sometimes slandered, FDR campaigned as a fiscal conservative. But when the era called for a new vision, FDR realized the nation needed him to change course. Clinton writes:

“When he came into office during the Depression, he saw that the ills of the country could not be addressed without more aggressive involvement by the government. He ran for President as a fiscal conservative, promising to balance the budget. But unlike his predecessor, he quickly realized that, with prices collapsing and unemployment exploding, only the Federal Government could step into the breach and restart the economy.”

We could do well these days to remember not only the visionary program FDR put into place, but the devotion to pragmatism from which it sprung.

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