In 1932, the Democratic candidate, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was the privileged scion of a wealthy family who ran a campaign that was committed to the Progressive vision of American society and government from the turn of the century. In his “Commonwealth Club Address,” FDR embraced the Progressive idea that pitted the “interests” against the people. He also promised the continued growth of the administrative state managed by enlightened bureaucratic elites in the name of the people. Even more importantly, FDR maintained that the purpose of government under the social compact was to preserve rights, but he was bold enough to assert that a redefinition of rights was necessary in an industrial age. Achieving this vision would usher in a secular utopia of progress and equality. Read more
Delivered by Roosevelt to California’s Commonwealth Club during his first run for the White House, this speech was penned by Adolf Berle, a noted scholar and a member of Roosevelt’s “Brain Trust” who drew deeply upon earlier Progressive thought, especially that of John Dewey.
September 23, 1932
…I want to speak not of politics but of Government. I want to speak not of parties, but of universal principles. They are not political, except in that larger sense in which a great American once expressed a definition of politics, that nothing in all of human life is foreign to the science of politics. Read more