Regular listeners to the Highlands Bunker podcast likely understand that I struggle with bouts of negativity and nihilism. The slow, grinding process of engaging people and organizing them for social, economic, and racial justice can be quite demoralizing at times. There are no regular obvious successes to easily sustain motivation and momentum.
In this episode, I speak with my friend and mentor Professor Harvey J. Kaye. Professor Kaye returned to the podcast on the anniversary of FDR’s birth to provide history lessons stretching from Thomas Paine’s 1775-76 work, Common Sense to President Biden’s inaugural address just a few short weeks ago.
The discussion, of course, centered on President Roosevelt’s background, the significant influence of his wife Eleanor’s advocacy work on his political views, and the pressure of organized labor in passing and implementing the New Deal programs.
While victories like the New Deal often seem impossible or far-fetched, Professor Kaye reminds us that whether we recognize it or not, history proves that the power is in our hands. He summarized the lesson this way (channeling, as usual, the ideas of Paine himself).
Cynicism has no place for you and me. Pessimism or optimism, I don’t want to fall into either one of them. It really has to do with remembering that we have it in our power to begin the world over again.