Every year, thousands of visitors tour the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site in Hyde Park, the home of the former United States first lady. Two decades prior to its conversion into a residence the building served as the factory for Val-Kill Industries, a furniture manufacturing business opened by Roosevelt and three partners.
Future U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt purchased property that would eventually become Val-Kill in 1911. The family initially used the site for picnics and a respite from the constant activity at their Springwood estate.
It was at one of the picnics that the concept of creating small industries to benefit local farmers during winter months and economic downturns was discussed.
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“When You Grow Up to Vote” (Roaring Brook Press), written by Eleanor Roosevelt and reissued with writer Michelle Markel and illustrator Grace Lin.
In 1932, Eleanor Roosevelt’s husband Franklin had just been elected president. In the throes of raising five children, Eleanor thought they should know “what their parents were up to” and “how it all worked,” according to her granddaughter Nancy Ireland.
“When You Grow Up to Vote: How Our Government Works for You,” a civics book Eleanor wrote for young children that year, only came across Ireland’s desk a year ago, even though she has spent three decades in charge of her grandmother’s literary estate. “I was never given a copy of it by my parents, which amuses me,” she told PBS NewsHour about the book’s new reissue this month.
The book, with revised text by Michelle Markel and illustrations by Grace Lin, explains to readers age 6-12 (and beyond) that we all have a stake in how our democracy is governed.
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Donald Trump has repeatedly complained that no one is investigating the people investigating him, and that no one is trying to jail his political enemies. On Sept. 10, national security adviser John Bolton did his boss one better. Rather than whining, he threatened. In a speech to the Federalist Society attacking the legitimacy of the International Criminal Court, Bolton said:
We will ban its judges and prosecutors from entering the United States. We will sanction their funds in the U.S. financial system, and we will prosecute them in the U.S. criminal system. We will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans.
There’s nothing new in Bolton’s hostility to the ICC. He’s mentioned it many times before. He previously waged war against it as a top official in the George W. Bush administration, and was rewarded with appointment as Bush’s UN ambassador. But there is something new in the scope of havoc his hostility could bring. As a New York Times headline put it, “U.S. Attack on I.C.C. Is Seen as Bolstering World’s Despots.”
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What is “democratic socialism” in contemporary America? In November 2015, with the Iowa caucuses on the horizon, Bernie Sanders finally tackled the question head-on in a much-publicized speech at Georgetown University. Democratic socialism, he told his audience, is what Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal did. FDR’s unfinished vision of a second bill of rights, an “economic bill of rights,” “is my vision today,” Sanders remarked.
Now, two and a half years later, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has vaulted onto the national political scene on a platform that sounds unmistakably familiar to students of American liberalism: Medicare for all, a job guarantee, housing programs, a new Glass-Steagall Act, and a green . . . New Deal. Democratic socialism, apparently, is less Eugene V. Debs than it is a more successful Harry Truman.
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Socialism and the Liberal Imagination
Henry Morgenthau III, a TV producer and documentarian who helped shape public television in its early days and provided a forum for the nation’s civil rights conversation in the 1960s, died July 11 at a retirement community in Washington. He was 101.
The cause was complications from aortic stenosis, his daughter Sarah Morgenthau said.
A scion of a prominent German-Jewish family, Mr. Morgenthau was a son of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s treasury secretary, a grandson of the U.S. ambassador to the Ottoman Empire under President Woodrow Wilson, the older brother of former Manhattan district attorney Robert M. Morgenthau, and a cousin of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Barbara W. Tuchman.
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We recommend this op-ed by Rafael Behr at “The Guardian.” We also recommend that more public figures in the West speak of liberal democracy openly and regularly.
“The US president makes a parody of the idea of the west as a beacon of moral authority. It is true that his despotic urges are hemmed by law in a way that lesser countries might not manage. But it is some downgrade of the system to boast that it might withstand assault by a venal, nepotistic maniac. America used to aim higher than constitutional kleptocracy.
“In such times it is easy to forget that the “western” model is still the best way to organise people into peaceful, prosperous societies. The benefits of liberal democracy are routinely taken for granted by people who live in one, but not by those who don’t. Millions vote with their feet, migrating across continents in search of a better life. That movement flatters the achievements of democratic societies, although our politics rarely casts it in those terms.”
Read Behr’s whole op-ed at “The Guardian”: