On the trail of FDR.

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

Joe Biden in Warm Springs, October 27, 2020.

Like many who live around here, I was (pleasantly) surprised to hear that not only the Democratic presidential candidate would be visiting the highly contested state of Georgia one week out from the election, but that one of his two stops would be in Warm Springs, population 425-ish, some 70 miles south of Atlanta on the edge of the Pine Mountain ridge.

Without giving you the entire Wikipedia entry, this is where President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, stricken with polio, visited for the ameliorative effects of the thermal baths. It wasn’t an easy trip at the time; a bumpy and long train ride from D.C.

But Biden, a fan of the hard repair work FDR performed for a nation in depression, found it apt to talk here. Ironically perhaps, FDR is a more vivid hero for someone of Biden’s age than, say, the generation of his running mate.

I remember FDR being discussed in fairly reverential tones around my family growing up, but I really only learned the details—what a slog it was to get reforms in place that would take care of the vast seas of American unemployed amidst an economy in the tank—after I went off to school. Many parts of his plan were (wait for it) challenged again and again in court by venal opponents who were opposed to extending an outstretched hand of help when it was needed most.

I think Biden’s remarks at Warm Springs (and on October 6 at Gettysburg, where he put Lincoln’s labors to hold together a divided people into perspective) show a man who may be of his era, but well aware of his 21st century challenges, should he gets the job he’s running for.

Put simply, Biden and Harris will have a colossal repair job to undertake if the election goes their way (and I sure hope it does.) Just under a week now.