Haunted by Santayana’s Ghost: FDR warns about Republican hypocrisy and sarcasm, from 1936

A haunting by Santayana’s Ghost:

Was this a convention speech?  I wonder when and where it was.  Can anyone help?


Ha!  In comments, SBH points us to the text of the speech.  FDR addressed the New York State Democratic Convention, in Syracuse, on September 29, 1936 (Can you imagine — does any state have such thing still —  state party conventions so late in the year, today?).  He found it at UC-Santa Barbara’s American Presidency Project website.  Here’s the text of the excerpt above, plus a little:

In New York and in Washington, Government which has rendered more than lip service to our Constitutional Democracy has done a work for the protection and preservation of our institutions that could not have been accomplished by repression and force.

Let me warn you and let me warn the Nation against the smooth evasion which says, “Of course we believe all these things; we believe in social security; we believe in work for the unemployed; we believe in saving homes. Cross our hearts and hope to die, we believe in all these things; but we do not like the way the present Administration is doing them. Just turn them over to us. We will do all of them- we will do more of them we will do them better; and, most important of all, the doing of them will not cost anybody anything.”

But, my friends, these evaders are banking too heavily on the shortness of our memories. No one will forget that they had their golden opportunity—twelve long years of it.

Remember, too, that the first essential of doing a job well is to want to see the job done. Make no mistake about this: the Republican leadership today is not against the way we have done the job. The Republican leadership is against the job’s being done.

6 Responses to Haunted by Santayana’s Ghost: FDR warns about Republican hypocrisy and sarcasm, from 1936

  1. […] is mostly an encore post. Share this:TwitterStumbleUponDiggRedditFacebookEmailLinkedInPinterestTumblrLike this:LikeBe the […]


  2. […] You’ll note Matthews opened up the discussion showing FDR’s defense of Social Security from 1936, the same one carried here at the bathtub a few wee…. […]


  3. sbh says:

    I searched for it. I should have known it, but honestly, I didn’t remember that part of the speech at all. It’s very appropriate today, however.


  4. James Kessler says:

    Which only goes to prove the truth behind this quip:

    The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work, then they get elected and prove it.” –P.J. O’Rourke

    Because they hate the idea of the government so much that one has to ask…if you hate the thing you’re working for how in God’s earth can you do a good job.


  5. Ed Darrell says:

    Thanks, Sam! Did you just know that, because it’s got one of your favorite lines, or did you search for it?


  6. sbh says:

    This appears to come from his address at the Democratic State Convention, Syracuse, New York, on 29 September 1936. The complete text is given at this link:


    At any rate the wording is the same. He may of course have used the same material in different speeches. This is the same speech that has one of my favorite FDR lines:

    “In the summer of 1933, a nice old gentleman wearing a silk hat fell off the end of a pier. He was unable to swim. A friend ran down the pier, dived overboard and pulled him out; but the silk hat floated off with the tide. After the old gentleman had been revived, he was effusive in his thanks. He praised his friend for saving his life. Today, three years later, the old gentleman is berating his friend because the silk hat was lost.”


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