New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio claimed that former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was his political hero.
While other 2020 Democrats chose a parent or a leader like former President Abraham Lincoln, de Blasio told the New York Times that his hero was FDR:
“My hero is Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I think there is no other president who has done more, over the whole host of years of this country, who has done more for working people and who changed the society to actually favor everyday Americans, not just those who had done really well. […] I look to him as an example of what was and what could be again.”
While de Blasio clearly wants to emulate Roosevelt, he may have forgotten some of the realities of Roosevelt’s more than 12-year reign over the United States. Here are a few details de Blasio may want to reconsider before emulating his hero
Roosevelt put Americans in internment camps.
Following the attacks at Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt approved the internment of all individuals who were Japanese-American. He forced American citizens, without due process or a day in court, into internment camps based solely on their ancestry.
This detail was recently part of a national conversation after President Donald Trump began utilizing the facilities FDR put into place to house migrants who entered the country illegally. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) poured fuel on the fire after claiming that migrants were being held in “concentration camps,” prompting condemnation for comparing the situation to the Holocaust.
Ocasio-Cortez, like de Blasio, has vocalized her admiration for Roosevelt’s presidency.
You can’t make this up…
On the left, AOC justifies her “concentration camps” comment by pointing to the U.S. putting Japanese people in concentration camps during WWII
On the right, AOC praises the man who put Japanese people in concentration camps during WWII pic.twitter.com/GOdjjcmMWC
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) June 19, 2019
Roosevelt had many authoritarian tendencies.
If the internment camps weren’t enough of a hint that Roosevelt wanted absolute power, there were several other examples from his presidency that suggested it.
Roosevelt seemingly sidestepped the Constitution several times. When the Supreme Court attempted to slow him down by ruling some of his desires unconstitutional, he attempted to pack the court with enough justices to drown out those who opposed him.
He was elected to office for four terms and served more than 12 years before dying. His reign prompted the creation of the 22nd Amendment, which implemented term limits on the presidency.
Roosevelt didn’t discourage segregation.
Roosevelt supported policies that continued segregation and opposed the civil rights movement. As The Washington Post notes in an opinion piece, Roosevelt’s New Deal largely excluded black Americans and encouraged segregation.
The Future of Freedom Foundation also claims that Roosevelt’s segregationist policies are still echoing through the United States today, including the effects of “redlining,” which drained neighborhoods that had a large population of individuals who were black of their resources by allowing banks to deny loans.
Roosevelt may have prolonged the Great Depression.
Beyond suggested racism and authoritarianism, Roosevelt made many economic decisions that may have prolonged the Great Depression in the United States. As the Mises Institute claimed, FDR’s policies on a minimum wage, market controls, and the welfare system all put a burden on businesses, slowing their growth and stunting the economic recovery.
While de Blasio may hold Roosevelt as an “example of what was and what could be again,” he may want to think twice before he brings back some of the worst parts of FDR’s presidency.
Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.