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Franklin D. Roosevelt wasn’t always “Franklin D. Roosevelt.”

As President Barack Obama devises his reelection strategy, he should understand the implications of this statement and act on them. Whether this election will have major consequences for our future and what Obama’s place in history will be could both depend on the willingness of the president and Democrats to do so.

Obama and his advisers are likely tempted to opt for a stand-pat re-election effort because of the improving unemployment numbers. That may be enough to get him re-elected. But it won’t be the sort of transformative election that could secure his place in history as a great president — which acting on that FDR statement could achieve.

To understand why, look to the seemingly schizophrenic results of two recent polls. A December Gallup Poll found that 64 percent of Americans see Big Government as the nation’s largest threat, while only 26 percent see Big Business as the greatest threat.

A month earlier, however, 75 percent of Americans surveyed in a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll said that “the current economic structure of the country is out of balance and favors a very small proportion of the rich over the rest of the country,” the “power of major banks and corporations” needs to be reduced and the rich should not receive tax breaks. Sixty percent strongly agreed with this. Only 12 percent disagreed, 6 percent strongly.

{Robert S. McElvaine is a history professor at Millsaps College. His most recent book is a 25th-anniversary edition of “The Great Depression.” He is now writing, “Oh, Freedom! — The Young ’60s.”}

Read the rest of this article by Robert McElvaine in Politico

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