‘My fellow Americans’

‘My fellow Americans’

This nation is in a grim mood. We are suffering an economic downturn that seems poised only to go down further; we are still in a war that threatens to widen; and you could say we have been plunged headlong into a most uncivil culture war.

At this critical time, we must pull our wits together and go to the polls. We must vote for the president and vice president most likely to (a) pull us out of these various morasses and (b) pull us together.

A similar mood faced an incoming president in 1933. It was the time of the Great Depression, during which one-third of the working-age population was unemployed without a safety net, many lost their life savings, families were hungry and homeless, and some people got themselves arrested just to spend the night in a warm jail. A popular song of the time was “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”

And across the Atlantic, though the mass of Americans were scarcely aware of this, the Nazis were rising to power.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt used words, in his first inaugural address, that bear repeating.

Speaking to “my fellow Americans,” he said, “This great nation will endure, as it has endured, will revive and will prosper.”

He said, “[T]he only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

He said, of “our common difficulties,” that they “concern, thank God, only material things.”

He said, “These dark days, my friends, will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves, to our fellow men.”

Roosevelt made recommendations that are useful to this day, including: “There must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments. There must be an end to speculation with other people’s money. And there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency.”

And equally important for our time was his “insistence, as a first consideration, upon the interdependence of the various elements in and parts of the United States of America.” As Benjamin Franklin put it at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

Dear readers, we urge you to be a part of this body politic and cast your vote as wisely as you can.