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In addition to decentralizing industry away from the Northeast and Midwest, the New Deal aimed at dispersing the population from crowded cities everywhere into the countryside and small towns, some of them “new towns” or “garden cities.” In its anti-urbanism, the New Deal was very Jacksonian.

...But at least today’s Democrats can praise the New Deal Democrats for Social Security and other social insurance programs, can’t they? The original Social Security program was quite stingy and only expanded later after FDR’s death. If Clinton, Obama, and Biden are cowards for refusing to embrace Medicare for All, so was Roosevelt, who viewed the idea of single payer government health insurance as politically toxic.

As for a universal basic income, an idea that is increasingly popular on the Democratic left, one of Roosevelt’s first actions as president was to abolish cash relief in favor of workfare...

Today, public sector unions such as teachers unions are mainstays of the Democratic Party. Roosevelt was skeptical about them. In a letter of Aug. 16, 1937, to Luther C. Steward, president of the National Federation of Federal Employees, FDR explained the two reasons why, although civil servants could form associations for some purposes, collective bargaining by public sector employees should be illegal: The citizens are the employers of civil servants and cannot be bound by union contracts, and public sector worker strikes would paralyze the government...

(Image above: Franklin Delano Roosevelt shaking the hand of a farmer  en route to Warm Springs, Georgia. Credit: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration/Franklin D. Roosevelt Library)

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