“We are determined to make every American citizen the subject of his country’s interest and concern; and we will never regard any faithful law-abiding group within our borders as superfluous. The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Second Inaugural Address
“Sixty years after Roosevelt’s Second Inaugural, that egalitarian test, I think, is still the best measure of our progress and humanity, and the core of The Triumph of Meanness is the contention that as a nation we are failing that test.”
Nicolaus Mills, The Triumph of Meanness – America’s War Against Its Better Self.
Home of the Mean
As with the election of Barack Obama last fall, the health care reform debate presents us with another opportunity to decide what kind of country we want to be. But that making that choice requires an unvarnished look at the country we have become.
In the seventy-plus years since Roosevelt’s Second Inaugural, and the dozen years since Nicolaus Mills’ offered his assessment that “as a nation we are failing” at “providing enough for those who have too little,” we have actually become a country where a surprising number believe that those who have too little don’t deserve to have any more than they do. It’s a phenomenon at play in our reactions to any number of current crises, including health care reform.