Folks, can you believe it? We arranged a second Presidential debate between Mr. Coolidge and Mr. Roosevelt.
Will: Many folks think January 1, 2013, will bring financial calamity, with vast tax increases, funding cuts for our military and social programs, and raising the debt ceiling again. What would you do if elected?
CC: “The people cannot look to legislation generally for success. Industry, thrift, character, are not conferred by act or resolve. Government cannot relieve from toil. It can, of course, care for the defective and recognize distinguished merit. The normal must care for themselves. Self-government means self-support.”
FDR: “There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still. Take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly, and try another. But by all means, try something… The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today… The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
CC: “We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once… They criticize me for harping on the obvious; if all the folks in the United States would do the few simple things they know they ought to do, most of our big problems would take care of themselves.”
Will: No matter who is elected, you will have to deal with Senators and Congressmen of the other party. How would you approach that situation?
CC: “There is only one form of political strategy in which I have any confidence, and that is to try to do the right thing and sometimes be able to succeed… I have found it advisable not to give too much heed to what people say when I am trying to accomplish something of consequence. Invariably they proclaim it can’t be done. I deem that the very best time to make the effort.”
FDR: “There is nothing I love as much as a good fight. In our seeking for economic and political progress, we all go up, or else we all go down… I am neither bitter nor cynical but I do wish there was less immaturity in political thinking… A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward. (On the other hand) a reactionary is a somnambulist walking backwards.”
Will: Somnambulist? I’ll have to look that one up later. Congress is debating the new Farm Bill. Mr. Roosevelt, I believe the very first Farm Bill was passed under your watch.
FDR: “Yes, prosperous farmers mean more employment, more prosperity for the workers and the business men of every industrial area in the whole country… A nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.”
CC: “Agriculture in America has been raised to the rank of a profession. It does not draw any artificial support from industry or from the Government. It rests squarely on a foundation of its own. It is independent… Although it is gratifying to know that farm conditions as a whole are encouraging, we ought not to cease our efforts for their constant improvement.”
Will: What’s your stand on labor unions?
FDR: “If I went to work in a factory the first thing I’d do is join a union.”
CC: “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time… This country would not be a land of opportunity if the people were shackled with government monopolies.”
Will: Closing comments?
FDR: “We are trying to construct a more inclusive society. We are going to make a country in which no one is left out.”
CC: “You can’t know too much, but you can say too much.”