“The United States just endured its worst economic quarter in recorded history. If this trend had continued for an entire year, American economic output would have been down by about a third.
So I’m hoping Joe Biden and his team are reading up on Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. The New Dealers succeeded in a moment like this. Their experience offers some powerful lessons for Biden as he campaigns and if he wins:
Offer big change that feels familiar.
Economic and health calamities are experienced by most people as if they were natural disasters and complete societal breakdowns. People feel intense waves of fear about the future. They want a leader, like F.D.R., who demonstrates optimistic fearlessness.
They want one who, once in office, produces an intense burst of activity that is both new but also offers people security and safety. During the New Deal, Social Security gave seniors secure retirements. The Works Progress Administration gave 8.5 million Americans secure jobs.
Biden’s “Build Back Better” slogan is a perfect encapsulation of this mood of simultaneously longing for the safety of the past while moving to a brighter future.