Anniversary Post: Four Freedoms Speech

Franklin Delano RooseveltOn this day in 1941, Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave his Four Freedoms speech. It was actually the 1941 State of the Union address. It’s a good list:

  1. Freedom of speech
  2. Freedom of worship
  3. Freedom from want
  4. Freedom from fear

Now let’s think about these Four Freedoms in a modern context. Freedom of speech is still pretty good here. It has taken a beating over the years, but I don’t think it is any longer true that someone would get thrown in jail for passing out anti-war pamphlets. Just the same, I wonder if any subversive speech started to get traction, whether the government wouldn’t find that it was like shouting fire in a crowded theater.

Freedom of worship is certainly under attack — but not as the conservatives say. It is under attack from conservatives themselves. See, for example, pretty much anyone who is running to get the Republican presidential nomination.

In general, in the US, we don’t care about freedom from want. This is the country of the myth of the rugged individual. And on the right, everyone has fallen under the spell of Ayn Rand. If you want in America, they claim, it is your own damned fault. It has nothing to do with a rigged system. And we completely ignore the way our system is set up to help those who already have a great deal of money. Republicans claim to care about redistribution of income. But they only care about it when the redistribution goes down. When it goes up (which is most of the time), they don’t even believe it exists.

As for fear, well, I think we are the most fearful people on the planet. Both parties push fear, but the Republicans are the ones who make a brand out of it. And it’s amazing to think: they’ve managed to convince their base that the bravest thing is to be constantly afraid.

If FDR were alive today, he would weep. Of the Four Freedoms, the two we had are roughly the same; and the two we didn’t have are even further away from us.

8 thoughts on “Anniversary Post: Four Freedoms Speech

  1. Freedom from fear only works for a short time with this country these days. Obama was all about hope and change and making life better. Then he won and the Republicans went insane. Not sure what the solution is.

    • It was fear of the black man. Hopefully, it will next be fear of the white woman. (I hope given the Obamacare vote today!) The Republicans are only about fear. The question is whether the rest of the country gets dragged along.

      • Fear of women has caused a lot of misery in this world. So naturally it will cause some more when President Clinton is in the White House. The difference is that Clinton walks back into the White House knowing she has a problem with the opposition hating her and has planned accordingly.

        They will try to drag us with them-either via armed stand offs or trying to pull another tea party upset. Although I don’t think they are going to have the same success. Sexism has to be a lot more subtle than racism in this country because the white married women who vote Republican will stop if the white married men are too nasty to a white woman even if that woman is Hillary Clinton. See Ann Richards first gubernatorial race.

        • Certainly racism — especially against African Americans — is most potent. But I do remember the first three years of Obama thinking he was really naive and that Clinton never would have made those mistakes — especially the 2011 debt ceiling crisis. And that’s a crisis that just keeps on giving. Although Obama is more my kind of temperament, Clinton is the sort of person I want fighting for me. Have you seen Rob Roy? The ending? That’s Clinton. Obama would have died.

          • No but I know she is a fighter.

            After the Super Tuesday (or whatever that second big primary) and her losing the main ones to Obama, every pundit was demanding she quit the race and how dare she stick it out to the bitter end even though she started winning a lot of the left over states. Not enough but she won them. And someone finally published an essay pointing out that Clinton may be a loser but she is no quitter. To her, you stick it out even if your heart is breaking.

            Obama has fought before but he is too much the go along get along type. He has to be for various reasons (witness the nonsense over his just being sad like a normal human when discussing the death of children) but he is not someone who would have drawn a line in the sand and said “this but no further” even if it meant losing.

            • Like I said: Obama’s my kind of guy. But this is one reason why I don’t understand all the Clinton supporters who want Sanders to just disappear. I think she’s at her best in a fight. Actually, Sanders is doing exactly as well as benefits her: a clear threat, but not really dangerous.

              There’s something I’ve noticed in the debates: Clinton and Sanders mostly like each other. I mean, they’re politicians and all. But there is a lot of admiration. On the Republican side, they clearly hate each other. And that is never as clear as when one of them say, “Anyone on this stage would be better than Clinton!” But it isn’t surprising that Republicans hate each other; they hate everyone.

              I recommend Rob Roy. Not a great film, but entertaining and fulfilling that the bad guys get it good.

              • I think a lot of the Clinton supporters are annoyed with how they are treated by the recent converts to party politics-he is the One True Savior (TM) and therefore if you do not support him you are a horrible person. *rolls eyes* Which makes the Clinton supporters testy and they start being jerks too. Then it becomes a vicious cycle.

                Most of the old timers are not happy with the Clinton supporters but they are holding their tongues because they know these are people they have to get along with long run. The new guys are like “How dare you support her?! Are you evil?!” Which is part of why it is so hard to get coalitions going-so few people get that politics is about compromising.

                I think I watched Rob Roy once but I was reading while I did so and didn’t pay much attention.

                • I think you meant to write Sanders a few times there, but his name never made an appearance. I know a lot of Clinton supporters who are unhappy about various things about Sanders supporters. I just don’t see it. I think people are hanging out too much on Twitter. Every liberal I know is fine with voting for either Clinton or Sanders in the general election. I saw a lot of the same kind of stuff in 2008. I think people make too big a deal of it. Maybe it is that I am too practical. Sanders is clearly my man ideologically. But I don’t see any real practical difference between their presidencies. And that goes both ways. When Debbie Wasserman Schultz said that younger women weren’t more supportive of Clinton because they didn’t remember the time before Roe v Wade, what was her point? Does she think that Sanders would appoint anti-choice judges? It’s just madness. I will say this, however: I think a lot of Clinton supporters are still suffering from PTSD from 2008. They think Sanders is Obama. The way it looks to me is that she wins Iowa and NH by small margins and then SC by a big one. Why are people worried. If Sanders weren’t in this race, it would be boring and it would get even less media than it is.

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