in the times of FDR

Over much of previous progressivism had hung an air of patronizing the unfortunate, of helping the group that reformers often called “the little people.”  The attitude of the new liberalism was spoken with classic tartness when Joseph Mitchell presented his stories “McSorley’s Wonderful Saloon.”  The phrase “little people,” Mitchell declared, was “repulsive. . . .  There are no little people in this book.  They are as big as you are, whoever you are.”  The point was carried to its further significance by a discerning, upper-income liberal, who added: “For quite a while I have lived in a commuter community that is rabidly anti-Roosevelt and I am convinced that the heart of their hatred of Roosevelt is not economic.  The real source of the venom is that Rooseveltism challenged their feeling that they were superior people, occupying by right a privileged position in the world.  I am convinced that a lot of them would even have backed many of his economic measures if they had been permitted to believe the laws represented the fulfillment of their responsibility as ‘superior people.’  They were not permitted that belief.  Instead, as the New Deal went on, it chipped away more and more at their sense of superiority.  By the second term, it was pressing hard on a vital spot and the conservatives were screaming.”

 — — — (Anonymous person quoted in Joseph Mitchell’s book quoted in Eric Goldman’s Rendezvous With Destiny)

Leave a Reply