There is an interesting parallel between the fight over rural
electrification, in 1935, and the current health insurance debate. (HT dangerousmeta)
FDR Enacted his “Public Option”
By Bob Simmons, Crosscut.com, Guest Writer, 9-13-09
…President Roosevelt had decreed a public option in 1935,
putting the federal government in the electrical utility business. He
created the Rural Electrification Administration, enabling
government-backed Rural Electrical Cooperatives to buy cheap power from
the government and sell it to farm families in neighborhoods where the
investor-owned utilities would not go…
…Investor-owned utilities, who rejected the farmers for years,
wanted them dearly once the competition showed up. They fought in
legislatures and courts and newspapers to keep the Rural Electric Coops
from lighting the back roads. One rural legend (I can’t say it’s true,
I didn’t see it) has the investor-owned utility crews coming along
after dark, removing REA power poles, installing their own, and
stringing wire through the night. At any rate, the public option
prevailed. The cooperatives multiplied.
And omigawd were they evil. Socialistic, un-American,
undermining the very fabric of democracy. Legislators, businessmen,
members of Congress, editorial page editors all over the country railed
at the specter of Big Government shouldering into private enterprise,
when everyone knew Government couldn’t do it right.
Most infuriating of all, government did it right…
The program was a resounding success. In fact, we probably still
benefit from the economic stimulus.
The political anger was fierce and unrelenting at this and
other Roosevelt initiatives. According to New Deal historian William
Edward Leuchtenberg, one US Senator compared the President to the
beast of the Apocalypse, “who sets his slimy mark on everything.”
One enraged citizen wrote to FDR, “If you were a good and honest man,
Jesus Christ would not have crippled you.”
The REA public option survived the frenzy. By the time the juice
reached our neighborhood, more than 90 percent of American farms
were electrified, nearly all of them by rural electric coops.
Socialism? Yeah. So what. It worked, and that is the
point. Results trump ideology every time.
The author’s main point appears to be this:
Unlike President Obama, Roosevelt showed no interest in
being a uniter who would seek bipartisan consensus through compromise.
Over the years, I have noticed that, from time to time, some people try
to manipulate me. One method I’ve observed, is that some people
try to paint their opponent into a corner, such that the only way out
is to be rude. They count on their opponent being nice. In
fact, that is the core of their strategy.
The thing is, it is not rude to do the right thing. If
people deliberately force you to either be rude or give in, then there
is nothing wrong with being rude. Obama needs to learn