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Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal are back in fashion these days, featuring some truly strange bedfellows. Liberal intellectuals told President Biden that he could become the next FDR if he simply spent like a convention of drunken sailors, but some of the “national conservatives” also suddenly like FDR and think we should emulate the New Deal’s economic policies, which surely has Milton Friedman and William F. Buckley rolling over in their graves.
Meanwhile, historians have neglected FDR’s record on civil liberties, with the conspicuous exception of the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II because that is too large a blot to be ignored (though even that story is not understood fully or accurately). Historian David Beito explores this forgotten aspect of FDR and the New Deal in his new book, The New Deal’s War on the Bill of Rights: The Untold Story of FDR’s Concentration Camps, Censorship, and Mass Surveilance. There’s probably a connection between the New Deal’s political economy and constitutionalism and these offenses to civil liberties—the point Hayek made in his misunderstood Road to Serfdom—that modern-day FDR admirers ought to keep in mind
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