The Plot Against FDR: Stranger than Fiction

fdr200.jpgIn 2004, Philip Roth’s The Plot Against Amer­i­ca imag­ined an alter­na­tive Amer­i­can his­to­ry. The year is 1940, and Charles Lind­bergh, an Amer­i­can hero and Nazi sym­pa­thiz­er, beats FDR in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and takes Amer­i­ca down the path toward fas­cism, import­ing to the US the worst that Europe has to offer.

An implau­si­ble his­tor­i­cal sce­nario? Not entire­ly, not accord­ing to this BBC inves­tiga­tive report (lis­ten here with Real Play­er). In 1933, when Amer­i­ca was mired deeply in the Great Depres­sion, Franklin D. Roo­sevelt came into office and launched fed­er­al poli­cies to revive the econ­o­my. Many now remem­ber well his New Deal poli­cies. But, there were some at the time — par­tic­u­lar­ly well-heeled lead­ers in the Amer­i­can busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty — who adamant­ly opposed the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment involv­ing itself in the pri­vate sec­tor. Based on research in the nation­al archives, the BBC inves­ti­ga­tion sug­gests that titans of the indus­tri­al and finan­cial world, includ­ing Prescott Bush (the grand­fa­ther of our sit­ting pres­i­dent), were linked to, if not direct­ly back­ing, a plot that would have Maj.-Gen. Smed­ley But­ler, a high­ly dec­o­rat­ed Marine, lead a 500,000 pri­vate army and push Roo­sevelt out of pow­er. It was a move tak­en straight from Hitler’s and Mus­solin­i’s play­book. To get more on the coup and how it played out, give the 30-minute inves­tiga­tive report a lis­ten.

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