The Dark Side of the New Deal: FDR and the Japanese-Americans

Photo Source H.L.I.T. | CC BY 2.0

Ever since the election of Barack Obama, there has been a tendency for some on the left to hearken back to the New Deal as some kind of Golden Age. Early hopes placed in Obama becoming the reincarnation of FDR were soon dashed after he put the needs of “too big to fail” banks over that of distressed of homeowners whose mortgages these banks treated as chips in a gambling casino.

The next FDR waiting in the wings was Bernie Sanders who swept millennials off their feet with calls to rein in the “billionaire class”. In 2015, he set the tone: “Against the ferocious opposition of the ruling class of his day, people he called economic royalists, Roosevelt implemented a series of programs that put millions of people back to work, took them out of poverty, and restored our faith in government.”

In reality, the New Deal did very little to put people back to work outside of the WPA that consisted mostly of make-work projects at low pay. Instead, it was WWII that put millions back to work—and at a terrible cost. It is fair to say that Sanders is consistent with FDR at least on one basis. If military Keynesianism put America back to work starting in 1941, Sanders is ready to adopt the same approach as indicated by his vote to continue funding the F-35, a fighter jet that will cost $1.5 trillion over its service to American imperialism. Since they will be based in Burlington, Vermont, there is an element of pork barrel at work but…

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