The cruel irony of the New Deal is that the liberals' honorable intentions to help the poor and the unemployed caused more human suffering than any other set of ideas in the past century.People believe in miracles: 72 virgins, or resurrection, or Activist Government, because they want to believe, not because of compelling evidence.
What is maddening is that thanks to this historical fabrication of FDR's presidency, dutifully repeated by Mr. Burns this past week, we have repeated the mistakes again and again. Had the history books been properly written, it's quite possible we would never had to endure the catastrophic failure of Obamanomics and the "stimulus plans" that only stimulated debt. The entire rationale for the Obama economic plan in 2009 was to re-create new New Deal.
Doubly amazing is that at this very moment, the left is writing another fabricated history — of the years we have just lived through. The history books are already painting Obama policies as the just-in-time emergency policies that prevented a Second Great Depression. I wonder if 80 years from now, the American people will be as gullible as they are today in believing, as my 12-year-old does, that FDR was an economic savior.
Amity Shlaes extends.
The contention of The Roosevelts is a plausible one: that this New York family altered the presidency forever, converting the office from a near-ceremonial post into one of near-regal responsibility for domestic policy. The Roosevelts both favored active progressivism and denied that any other presidential posture could do the trick. What “26” and “32” hoped, as one of the commenters in the film, George F. Will, notes, was that “the role of the central government from now on [would be] to secure the well-being of the American people.”Elsewhere in the series, Mr Will, the token Tory (and Cub fan?) in the roster of talking heads, observed that the subsequent practice of presidential hopefuls offering the people new and shiny things was a formula for disappointment and failure of the presidency. Thus, calling for a reduced presidency in a campaign is, yes, going to antagonize Official Washington and the stuffed heads that sit around under pictures of the Capitol on Sunday mornings, but to campaign for Enhanced Governmental Power only creates attack ads.
The Roosevelts got what they wanted. With the partial exception of Ronald Reagan, no chief executive since has dared to suggest that the economy might simply run itself. As the years have passed, the demand for progressive reform and federal oversight has only increased, especially when financial markets have turned. Citizens now expect, even demand, economic rescue from any chief executive. To demur and call for a reduced presidency would be to invite ridicule or worse.
Ms Shlaes notes, though, that rolling back the Cult of the Presidency is a long twilight struggle.
One documentary series, even one by Ken Burns, can reach only so many. But Burns is not alone. The new Advanced Placement history curriculum, which will touch a large portion of thinking high-schoolers, buttresses the myths of the 1920s as failure and the New Deal as rescue. Against such a lovable monolith, bound to influence our culture through multiple election cycles, conservatives and centrists offer — what?Yes. That's emergence in action. It may take the failure of one or more of the New Deal or Great Society or Hope and Change constructions to trigger the emergence.
The Roosevelts brings to light a failing in conservative investors and non-progressive educators: They don’t deliver enough serious history of their own. Frustrated at their inability to penetrate such institutions as PBS and the Ivy League, many abdicate, turning to the instant gratification of spin-cycle journalism or politics. Conservatives and classical liberals — indeed, anyone looking for true balance — might also devote attention and resources to filming, writing, and drawing a high-quality narrative. PBS might in turn surprise by airing such work: It did air Daniel Yergin’s history of the free-market movement, Commanding Heights. Through my own work I’ve attempted to supply a different perspective on the 1920s and 1930s. But an army of attempts is needed. Precisely at a time when they must decide whether to back yet further incursions by Washington, Americans can sorely use a more complete version of their own past — preferably one without thrones.