[Marxism] Barack Hoover Obama

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Nov 30 11:21:20 MST 2009

Very early on in Obama’s administration, you heard many of his 
supporters on the left begin to call for pressure from the mass 
movement in order for him to promote progressive legislation. 
Analogies were made with FDR, who was elected on a fairly centrist 
platform. Without protests from the unemployed et al, the 
assumption is that FDR would have continued on his centrist 
course, just as Obama is doing today. For example, in article 
titled “Obama needs the left”, the social democratic historian 
Michael Kazin wrote: “For the president to have a chance at 
becoming another FDR, he needs a big push from the left—or the 
conservative assumptions that have kept the nation in thrall for 
the past three decades will continue to hold sway,” while Nation 
Magazine editor Katrina Vanden Heuvel answered that “I think 
history shows us that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was compelled to 
abandon caution because of the great traumas of his day — the 
Great Depression gave him little choice but to be bold. And it was 
the great popular social movement of his time, working outside his 
administration, the unions at that time, that put pressure on FDR 
to carry out bolder reforms” when asked about the parallels 
between Obama and FDR.

This assumes that Obama is as susceptible to mass pressure as FDR. 
What if Obama was not a latter-day FDR but a repackaged Herbert 
Hoover, however? Would Hoover have pushed through Social Security 
legislation if he had been President? Maybe if the pressure was 
sufficient to do so, but clearly Hoover was more hostile to the 
poor and to the working class than the aristocratic FDR whose 
combination of noblesse oblige and long-term strategic thinking on 
behalf of the class he served made him more amenable to change.

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