I have already voiced my belief that out of the present crisis there might emerge a dramatic progressive leap forward in American politics, like that which many of us recall nostalgically as Roosevelt’s New Deal. Bored out of my skull on a lovely spring day in quarantine, and curious to see how that great transformation in our collective public life was launched, I Googled a bit and came up with the Platform of the Democratic Party adopted at the 1932 National Convention that nominated FDR. It is an interesting document in many ways [one of which is the central position given to agricultural policy, a reminder of how fundamentally the American economy has changed in 88 years.]
At the very beginning of a long list of policies and proposals appear these sentences:
“We advocate an immediate and drastic reduction of governmental expenditures by abolishing useless commissions and offices, consolidating departments and bureaus, and eliminating extravagance to accomplish a saving of not less than twenty-five per cent in the cost of the Federal Government. And we call upon the Democratic Party in the states to make a zealous effort to achieve a proportionate result.
We favor maintenance of the national credit by a federal budget annually balanced on the basis of accurate executive estimates within revenues, raised by a system of taxation levied on the principle of ability to pay.”
A 25% cut in government expenditures and a balanced budget.
I think perhaps we should not worry too much when Ole Joe issues a moving call for a Return to Normalcy [Warren G. Harding’s campaign slogan in 1920.]