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Franklin Roosevelt defined genuine freedom in his brilliant acceptance speech at the 1936 Democratic National Convention.

The Democratic Party Is The Party Of Freedom

For years, the GOP has claimed to be the party of “freedom” and “liberty.” As Democrats, we can’t cede the issue of freedom and liberty to the GOP because their bizarre version of “freedom” rings hollow. We must explain to the voters that the Democratic Party is the party of genuine freedom — not the faux version peddled by the radical right.

The GOP’s vision of so-called freedom” only applies to the wealthy, big corporations, and the owners of weapons of war. Only a handful of wealthy and powerful Americans benefit from the GOP’s so-called “freedom.” And that twisted vision of freedom is bad for most Americans and is quite frankly dangerous.

Since the conservative movement has begun to implement it’s version of freedom and liberty since 1981, the rich have gotten much richer and the middle class has experienced stagnant wages. Moreover, more than 26,000 children and teens have been killed in gun violence since 1999.

At the same time, the radical right has pursued a big government agenda that has been imposed on just about every other American. The GOP has used the power of big government to regulate women’s health care choices and voting. In addition, the radical right has used big government to break up labor unions, thus reducing middle class pay and impairing their sacred right to participate in the political process.

A genuine vision of freedom must benefit all Americans — not just the wealthy few and a handful of well heeled special interests. What we need is a government that cares about the everyday American and protects us from a rapacious and greedy top 1%.

In his acceptance speech at the 1936 Democratic Convention, Franklin Roosevelt brilliantly spelled out why it is progressives who truly believe in freedom:

“For out of this modern civilization economic royalists carved new dynasties. New kingdoms were built upon concentration of control over material things. Through new uses of corporations, banks and securities, new machinery of industry and agriculture, of labor and capital — all undreamed of by the fathers — the whole structure of modern life was impressed into this royal service.

There was no place among this royalty for our many thousands of small business men and merchants who sought to make a worthy use of the American system of initiative and profit. They were no more free than the worker or the farmer. Even honest and progressive-minded men of wealth, aware of their obligation to their generation, could never know just where they fitted into this dynastic scheme of things.

It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over Government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction. In its service new mercenaries sought to regiment the people, their labor, and their property. And as a result the average man once more confronts the problem that faced the Minute Man.

An old English judge once said: “Necessitous men are not free men.” Liberty requires opportunity to make a living — a living decent according to the standard of the time, a living which gives man not only enough to live by, but something to live for.

For too many of us the political equality we once had won was meaningless in the face of economic inequality. A small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people’s property, other people’s money, other people’s labor — other people’s lives. For too many of us life was no longer free; liberty no longer real; men could no longer follow the pursuit of happiness.

Against economic tyranny such as this, the American citizen could appeal only to the organized power of Government.”

Roosevelt’s vision of freedom has benefited millions of Americans for generations. Before the passage of Social Security and Medicare, poverty among the elderly was a serious problem. Moreover, most senior citizens couldn’t obtain health insurance because the private health insurance industry couldn’t make money on them. The combination of Social Security and Medicare has reduced poverty among the elderly from 50% to 9%.

President Obama built on those previous successes with the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. The Affordable Care Act insured 20 million additional Americans and the uninsured rate declined from 18% to an all time low of 9%. Moreover, pre-existing conditions clauses were banned.

We can build on the accomplishments of Roosevelt, Kennedy, Johnson and Obama by establishing universal health care, raising the minimum wage, establishing universal child care, reduced college tuition costs and the resumption of anti-trust enforcement. As Franklin Roosevelt said in his 1944 State of the Union Message: “We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “

We can only achieve this goal by winning the 2020 elections. The stakes couldn’t be any higher. As Abraham Lincoln said in the Gettysburg Address: “(We)here highly resolve… that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Now let’s get it done!

I’m a trial lawyer, a Democratic activist and a sports fan.

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