Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the Government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war, but at the same time, through this employment, accomplishing greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our natural resources. — FDR, First Inaugural Address
Studying the United States Import-Export Bank recently, I learned that some who object to the bank are not so much opposed to what it does as they are offended that it was created 80 years ago, part of FDR’s New Deal. Evidently, for some, anything associated with FDR can’t be worthwhile; every vestige of the New Deal is suspect and ought to be repealed. For some, Social Security is an example. Let’s call this feeling the “FDR effect.” Here are more examples:
In spite of mounting evidence for climate change caused by man, some refuse to believe. The reason for some is Al Gore–nothing that Al Gore believes can possibly be true. If Gore said: “grass is green,” they would insist it was blue. If the internet is good, Al Gore couldn’t possibly have had anything to do with it.
Whatever President Barack Obama favors must be bad. AHC is modeled on RomneyCare. It was carefully, if futilely, designed to win GOP support by incorporating many Republican ideas. First Republicans insisted on calling it Obamacare, now they hate it because it reminds them that Obama is our President. Dana Milbank, in a column in the Elmira Star-Gazette today, reminds us that the GOP, which once deplored activist judges and frivolous lawsuits, is now attacking President Obama with frivolous suits and imploring judges to act on them.
There were many reasons for people to oppose the War in Viet Nam: the high cost in lives, secret bombing, assassination of President Thieu, agent orange, the transparent weakness of the “domino theory,” but for some if Jane Fonda was against it they had no choice but to support it. Nothing Jane opposed for whatever reason could be wrong.
When former President GWB was pushing us toward war in Iraq, too many chose sides based on whether they liked President Bush or not, suspending disbelief even in the face of transparently unrealistic administration claims.
Whether it is as relatively unimportant as the future of the Inport-Export Bank, or as important as issues of war or peace, we ought to judge the policy itself rather than the persons who favor or oppose it. Today, faced with war with North Korea, Syria, Iran, or even Russia as well as in Afghanistan, we ought to be especially careful to evaluate policy alternatives on their merits rather than on who may support or oppose them: President Obama, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore or whoever.
© William Hungerford – March 2014