Windham Life and Times October 9, 2020

The Whistle-Stop Tour

Teddy Roosevelt Campaigns at Windham Depot

So, are you as sick of presidential politics as I am? President Teddy Roosevelt was a flamboyant, larger than life character. He was a Republican, but more than any other president he was responsible for saving capitalism in America. “President Theodore Roosevelt was a leader of the Progressive movement, and he championed his ‘Square Deal’ domestic policies, promising the average citizen fairness, breaking of trusts, regulation of railroads, and pure food and drugs.”  Roosevelt became president after President William McKinley was shot by an anarchist, Leon Czolgosz, who said he had pulled the trigger out of a desire to contribute to the anarchist cause. “I don’t believe in the Republican form of government, and I don’t believe we should have any rulers,” he said in his confession. “It is right to kill them.”  There was a very strong anarchist-communist threat during McKinley’s presidency because the lack of fairness in America was a real issue. And the real issue of fairness is why we have a very similar threat today. Roosevelt said, “There is a widespread conviction in the minds of the American people that the great corporations known as trusts are in certain of their features and tendencies hurtful to the general welfare,” Roosevelt wrote in his first message as president, following McKinley’s assassination. He became known for the term “Square Deal” which reflected legislation and acts connected with his presidency, especially those which seemed to be undergirded by this sense of fair play and egalitarianism. The Northern Securities case, the break-up of Standard Oil, the Elkins and Hepburn Acts, the creation of the Bureau of Corporations, and his administration’s other actions connected with trust busting, for example, speak to Roosevelt’s desire to equalize the power imbalance between corporations and common people.”  Roosevelt and many other politicians of the time recognized that the concentration of power in the hands of monopolist corporations was bad for America, bad for Americans, and bad for business. The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few was very similar to today. Today, American capitalism is again in need of reform. The treasonous off-shoring of jobs and industries has to stop. The financialization of the entire economy to benefit the top 1% at the expense of the rest has to be stopped. Bailing out giant banks has to stop. The bribes to politician’s family members from banks, multi-national corporations and foreign governments has to stop. Monopoly capitalism has to be broken up. Capitalism, regulated, brought about the biggest income gains for common people in all recorded history, in twentieth century America. So the question of 2020, which is staring us right in the face is this; what is to be done when both the Republicans and the Democrats have sold out the common man?

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