Previously published on BillMoyers.com.
If you believe America desperately needs a great surge of democracy in the face of fierce opposition from reactionary and corporate forces, then remembering and reviving the spirit of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who died 69 years ago last week, is in order.
In January 1941, FDR's State of the Union address made it clear that a fight was inevitable, a fight to preserve, protect and defend four essential freedoms: freedom from fear and want and freedom of speech and religion.
This week, I speak with historian Harvey J. Kaye, author of the new book The Fight for the Four Freedoms: What Made FDR and the Greatest Generation Truly Great, about how FDR's speech was a rallying cry to build the kind of progressive society that Roosevelt hoped for but did not live to see at war's end.
Kaye says the president was able to mobilize Americans who created "the strongest and most prosperous country in human history." How did they do it? By working toward the Four Freedoms and making America "freer, more equal and more democratic."
He believes Americans have not forgotten the Four Freedoms as goals, but have "forgotten what it takes to realize them, that we must defend, sustain and secure democracy by enhancing it. That's what Roosevelt knew. That's what Jefferson knew. And no one seems to remember that today. That's what we have to remind people of."