Scathing editorial: While FDR famously warned against 'fear' in 1933, today's Republicans wallow in it

Scathing editorial: While FDR famously warned against 'fear' in 1933, today's Republicans wallow in it
Frontpage news and politics

On March 4, 1933 — following his landslide victory over President Herbert Hoover in the United States' 1932 presidential election — President Franklin Delano Roosevelt favor a mixture of compassion and tough-mindedness during his first inaugural address when he famously declared, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Michael Cantwell, a South Florida Sun-Sentinel reader, looked back on that speech in a letter published this week, stressing that in contrast to FDR, all the Republican Party of 2021 has to offer is fear.

Cantwell stressed, "When Franklin Delano Roosevelt took the oath of office, the country was mired in the depths of the Great Depression, with 25% of workers unemployed and millions homeless. In his first inaugural address, FDR spoke of the challenges ahead: 'First of all,' he said, 'let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself'…. Armed with the hope and resolve FDR provided, and protected by the safety net programs he helped create, we emerged from the pit of the depression stronger than ever."

But the modern-day GOP, Cantwell added, is the party of fear — and he slammed two Florida Republicans who are up for reelection in 2022: Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Ron DeSantis.

"The modern Republican Party has turned FDR's famous epigraph on its head," Cantwell explained. "For the GOP, fear is not a crippling emotion to be avoided, but an electoral tool to stay in power. Their philosophy is best summarized by the horror-film tag line, 'Be afraid, be very afraid.'"

President Franklin D. Roosevelt First Inaugural

Cantwell continued, "Republicans have no ideas or programs to offer voters but they excel at fear-mongering. It will be the centerpiece of the reelection campaigns of Marco Rubio and Ron DeSantis. They'll keep winning if they can scare you enough. So get ready to be afraid of 'illegal aliens,' even though the proper term is 'undocumented immigrants' and they commit crimes at lower rates than native-born Americans. Be afraid of 'critical race theory' even though it's not taught in Florida schools. And be afraid of 'socialism,' the term Republicans use to demonize every popular program introduced by Democrats. Do you really want to lose your Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or Affordable Care Act benefits?"

Cantwell's letter followed two Sun-Sentinel articles on Florida Republicans. One of them was a scathing June 16 editorial by the Sun-Sentinel's editorial board, which slammed Rubio for not taking racial health inequities seriously. And the other was a June 10 news article by the Sun-Sentinel's Scott Travis, who reported on public school teachers being banned from teaching critical race theory in classrooms.

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