by Robert Wilkinson
Today is the 70th anniversary of FDR’s 1944 State of the Union speech where he outlined a “Second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all – regardless of station, or race, or creed.” Adopting these would make our world a much better place for all people everywhere.
I was turned on to this via a friend of the site. Many of the themes of this “second Bill of Rights” stem directly from The 4 Freedoms which I wrote about a while ago.
Today I won’t post the first part of the State of the Union speech which mainly deals with justifications for, and reports on, the progress of WWII. Instead, we'll take a look at the second half of that speech, given by one of the greatest Aquarians ever to govern a nation. We pick it up in the middle of a plea for equal voting rights for all Americans (which is STILL a problem today!)
For your consideration, a proposal for “a Second Bill of Rights.”
... Several alleged reasons have prevented the enactment of legislation which would preserve for our soldiers and sailors and marines the fundamental prerogative of citizenship -- in other words, the right to vote. No amount of legalistic argument can becloud this issue in the eyes of these ten million American citizens. Surely the signers of the Constitution did not intend a document which, even in wartime, would be construed to take away the franchise of any of those who are fighting to preserve the Constitution itself.
Our soldiers and sailors and marines know that the overwhelming majority of them will be deprived of the opportunity to vote, if the voting machinery is left exclusively to the States under existing State laws -- and that there is no likelihood of these laws being changed in time to enable them to vote at the next election. The Army and Navy have reported that it will be impossible effectively to administer forty- eight different soldier-voting laws. It is the duty of the Congress to remove this unjustifiable discrimination against the men and women in our armed forces -- and to do it just as quickly as possible.
It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy. More than the winning of the war, it is time to begin plans and determine the strategy for (the) winning (of) a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever (before) known before.
This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights -- among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.
We have come to a clear realization of the fact, however, that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. "Necessitous men are not free men." People who are hungry, people who are (and) out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all -- regardless of station, or race or creed.
Among these are:
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries, or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of (every) farmers to raise and sell their (his) products at a return which will give them (him) and their (his) families (family) a decent living;
The right of every business man, large and small , to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, and sickness, and accident and unemployment;
And finally, the right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.
America's own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for all our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.
One of the great American industrialists of our day -- a man who has rendered yeoman service to his country in this crisis -- recently emphasized the grave dangers of "rightist reaction" in this Nation. Any clear-thinking business men share that (his) concern. Indeed, if such reaction should develop -- if history were to repeat itself and we were to return to the so-called "normalcy" of the 1920's -- then it is certain that even though we shall have conquered our enemies on the battlefields abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of fascism here at home.
I ask the Congress to explore the means for implementing this economic bill of rights -- for it is definitely the responsibility of the Congress so to do, and the country knows it. Many of these problems are already before committees of the Congress in the form of proposed legislation. I shall from time to time communicate with the Congress with respect to these and further proposals. In the event that no adequate program of progress is evolved, I am certain that the Nation will be conscious of the fact.
Our fighting men abroad -- and their families at home -- expect such a program and have the right to insist on (upon) it. It is to their demands that this Government should pay heed, rather than to the whining demands of selfish pressure groups who seek to feather their nests while young Americans are dying.
I have often said that there are no two fronts for America in this war. There is only one front. There is one line of unity that (which) extends from the hearts of (the) people at home to the men of our attacking forces in our farthest outposts. When we speak of our total effort, we speak of the factory and the field and the mine as well as (of) the battlefield (ground) -- we speak of the soldier and the civilian, the citizen and his Government.
Each and every one of them (us) has a solemn obligation under God to serve this Nation in its most critical hour -- to keep this Nation great -- to make this Nation greater in a better world.
I wish our nation had lived up to the promise in these words. We still struggle with crypto-fascists and violent extremists here in the US that would keep us in fear, keep us impoverished, keep us divided within and without, and keep us fogged in the delusion of believing we have and are enemies of each other. We still struggle to ensure that all citizens are free to vote their conscience without that vote being discarded, or flipped, or rigged in some way contrary to the spirit of free elections.
While it may seem a distant utopia during these chaotic, harsh, violent, and polarized times, the right to an education, shelter, economic opportunity, food, clothing, adequate medical care, and protection for the very old, very young, weak, and infirm would truly begin to turn life on Earth from a harsh competition with widespread suffering to a more civilized, sane, cooperative, and positive path for humanity.
And of course, to take us back to what brought us to this dance to begin with, we still all need to be free from fear, free from want, free to assemble with others to express our hearts and minds, and free to worship God as we choose. Words by an Aquarian articulating an Age that is dawning.
For more, please take a new look at “The Four Freedoms”
© Copyright 2014 Robert Wilkinson