HISTORY LESSON – HOW THE EXTREMITY OF THE GREAT DEPRESSION CREATED THE OPPORTUNITY TO INSTITUTE THE MODERN ERA OF PROTECTIONS FOR AMERICAN WORKERS. Harvard professor Dr. Lizabeth Cohen explains in 'The Atlantic' that a key ingredient which allowed New Deal reforms to get passed was a cultivated sense of empathy which helped Americans see they were all in this together.
We first learned of this piece after listening to an interview with Dr. Cohen on WBUR's 'On Point. Caleb, Megan & Jim https://www.wbur.org/…/…/27/what-we-learn-from-fdrs-new-deal
"The economic collapse of the 1930s, one of the defining traumas of the 20th century, is still the benchmark against which recessions are measured. And, for many Americans, the New Deal, launched by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, remains the standard for how the federal government should respond to a major national emergency. By the late 1940s, the United States had exited economic calamity and entered into an unparalleled period of national prosperity—with measurably greater income equality. America did not merely endure the Great Depression; its response transformed it into a richer and more equitable society.
"Many hope to replicate that achievement today…And, perhaps above all, they pushed for unity and cultivated empathy.
"The New Deal offers us more than a simple guide for returning to some semblance of normalcy. The larger lesson it offers is that recovery is a complex and painful process that requires the participation of many, not directives from a few. And that, ultimately, we’re all in this together…
"This last point is perhaps the most important, and it may be the most difficult. Empathy, after all, has been badly missing in the United States in recent decades.
"Perhaps we’ve made a start. The iconic images of this pandemic are of nurses, doctors, and EMTs caring for the sick. Nightly displays of thanks echo in many parts of the country. Grocery-store clerks are recognized as heroes. The coronavirus’s harsh lesson in our shared vulnerability to disease—that we are all safe only when everyone is healthy—could become the basis for a broader recognition of our shared fate as Americans. Learning that lesson may help us rebuild our society into one that treats everyone as essential."
In the 1930s, Americans responded to economic calamity by creating a richer and more equitable society. We can do it again.