Monday, November 17, 2008

Obama = FDR (I hope)

DISCLAIMER: An article by Peter Beinart of Time Magazine (Not equating me to Beinart) makes a similar argument to the one I am about to make. I assure you, however, that my thoughts are original.

In history class, we all learned that history is important because it tends to repeat itself. With this trend in mind, I have begun to wonder: which United States President is Obama most similar to historically?

Many have said that Obama is most similar to Kennedy. Obama is surely similar to Kennedy in age (Obama is 47, Kennedy was 43). They both had cultural differences that made it difficult for them to get elected (Obama is African American, Kennedy was Irish Catholic). For these reasons Obama may be similar to Kennedy culturally, but I find it very hard to find relevant historical similarities between 1960 and 2008.

The president that is most similar to Obama historically (in my oh so very humble opinion) is Franklin Delano Roosevelt. FDR entered the Oval Office after the second-worst president ever, Herbert Hoover (with LBJ at a close third); Obama is entering the Oval office after the worst president ever, George W. Bush. FDR faced the challenge of leading a nation out of the Great Depression; Obama faces the challenge of pulling this country away from an economic crisis that could very well lead to the next Great Depression (and probably will regardless of what Obama does).

Since FDR is (and always will be) my favorite president, perhaps this conclusion is biased. However, I think that Obama can learn many lessons from the 32nd President of the United States. First and foremost, Obama needs to put forth a third New Deal. It must include reformed versions of all of FDR's New Deal programs with an addition of affordable health care for all. Second, Obama needs to put new regulations on the stock market. I've been horrified that Washington hasn't even considered the possibility of freezing the market for a day.

Most importantly, Obama cannot govern from the center. There is a reason why the Democrats have been given a majority in both houses. There is a reason why we have elected a Democrat to the White House. President-elect Obama need not worry about America's fear of liberals. 1968 was 40 years ago; I think America is over its liberalphobia.

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