Editor’s Note: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.
This weekend, Hillary Clinton will unveil her “vision for the country” at a mass rally at the FDR Four Freedoms Park in New York City. Her campaign indicates that she’ll reveal a fuller picture of her economic policies in what is being billed as her official campaign launch.
But the stunning Louis Kahn memorial to Roosevelt can be more than just a setting for Clinton. It can inspire her to a far broader and bolder mission: to challenge directly, as Roosevelt did, the constrained notion of freedom that has dominated our politics since Ronald Reagan, and to offer a more expansive, empowering view of America’s experiment.
As historian Eric Foner has shown, freedom has always been a contested concept in the United States. In different eras, it has taken on different meanings. For the founders, it meant freedom from political autocracy, and from royalists with special privileges from the crown. Speaking in 1936, Roosevelt argued in the midst of the Great Depression, that industrialization had produced a “new despotism” of “economic dynasties.” Within our borders, Roosevelt argued, “popular opinion is at war with a power-seeking minority. . . an economic autocracy.”
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.