Democratic presidential candidate and self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders continued his message of social and economic equality in an hour-long speech he delivered at the Iowa State Fair on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015. The independent Vermont Senator chose to invoke former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Democrat who presided over the nation during the Great Depression, and served longer than any other president served in American history 12 years with the nation electing Roosevelt to four terms (1933-1945). Although wealthy himself, FDR espoused an anti-rich rhetoric that resonated to a nation battered by years of economic depression.
Sanders delivered his remarks to an audience of 400, far less than has appeared at some of his recent rallies. Sanders specifically mentioned Roosevelt and bashed President Barack Obama for not delivering on his 2008 campaign promises. Sanders said, “I want to know if you are the next coming of FDR. We will fight for you if you will fight the Republicans in Congress. I voted eight years ago for hope and change, and I’m still waiting.” Sanders also jabbed his rival Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, who was Obama’s Secretary of State during his first term in office.
Sanders also used Roosevelt’s own words in his speech, using the term Roosevelt had for the wealthy business owners who did want change, “economic royalists.” Sanders expressed, “He said, ‘They hate my guts. Never have they hated someone as much as they hate me. And I welcome their hatred.'” Continuing the Vermont Senator altered Roosevelt’s words in order for them to apply to the issues and wealthy of today, saying, “And let me echo that today: If the Koch brothers and the billionaire class hate my guts, I welcome their hatred. Because I am going to stand with working families.”
Roosevelt made that speech with his disdain for the nation rich, just days before the 1936 election, where he would win his second term of office. In the Madison Square Garden speech, Roosevelt attacked the Republicans as the party of the rich; the same attacks are still used. Roosevelt stated, “the old enemies of peace: business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering. They are unanimous in their hate for me – and I welcome their hatred.”
That was not the only speech on the second day of the Iowa State Fair that Sanders chose to invoke and honor Roosevelt. Sanders also delivered another much shorter 17-minute speech at the The Des Moines Register Political Soapbox, drawing one of their largest crowds ever. Sanders paid tribute to one of Roosevelt’s premier social programs, social security. Friday, Aug. 14 marked the 80th anniversary since FDR signed the Social Security Act into law in 1935. Now years later money is running out; Sanders wants to make sure the programs lives on.
Social Security expansion has been an important policy issue for Sanders, who has made social issues a central focus. Sanders wants to raise the cap above the current pone “on taxable income of $118,500.” Sanders promised voters, “Let me be very clear: Virtually all of the Republican candidates in one form or another want to cut Social Security. Together, we are not going to let them do that.”