Washington set precedents. Lincoln preserved the union. But only Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected to the nation’s highest office four times. Only Roosevelt faced an economic crisis so severe it remains our benchmark today for calamity. Only Roosevelt saw a world on the brink, knowing that his leadership was all that stood between isolationism and war, yet simultaneously a new democratic age versus an age of darkness.
So well-known to subsequent generations, he is easily recalled just by his initials, FDR. For his generation and for many yet to come, he defined how Americans understood their place in the world, their government’s role in their lives, and the very nature of freedom itself. He’s not here with us now. If he were, what would he say and do?