ANOTHER DIMENSION OF EXISTENCE, THE UNIVERSE — The disembodied, paranormal apparitions of Theodore and Franklin Delano Roosevelt were recently observed by reporters in another dimension of existence arguing over who Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is most like.
“Well I do say, Franklin,” Teddy was overheard telling his fifth-cousin, “Bernie is like me! He is clearly unafraid to take on the corruption of our capitalist system that has taken root in the American government. He is certainly most like me, no matter how much like you he may be.”
FDR was said to have laughed a hearty laugh and slapped Teddy on the back before responding.
“I will not deny that his fervor and tenacity for taking on the financiers that have gotten their meat hooks into every level of government makes him quite the TR in the offing,” Franklin said, “but dear cousin, Bernie is very clearly a New Deal Democrat.” FDR pointed to Sanders’ stance on raising the minimum wage to a living wage as a prime example. “You know, down there Republicans are trying to claim the minimum wage wasn’t ever meant to support a family, but that’s because they don’t actually get taught about what I said about the minimum wage as I signed it.”
Teddy laughed himself, and then asked, “Oh, right, what was that, that you said again?”
“It’s been so long since I made that statement regarding the National Industrial Recovery Act,” FDR said, “but I think it was something to the effect of, ‘No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country.’” After a moment he said, “Yes, that was it.”
Teddy questioned his fifth-cousin, “But, what really is a living wage, right? Isn’t that what their conservatives ask today?”
Franklin scoffed, and laughed. “I said it then, I’ll say it now, by living wages, I mean more than a bare subsistence level — I mean the wages of a decent living.” Roosevelt took off his spectacles and rubbed them clean with his pocket square. “It’s really quite simple, cousin.”
Teddy still wanted to play devil’s advocate. “But, won’t that have a negative impact on the CEOs and heads of companies who have to pay their employees a certain wage to keep in business,” the elder Roosevelt ghost asked. FDR let out his most hearty guffaw yet.
“Oh, sure, they’ll whine about it. But it’s just as true now as it was when I said this, “Do not let any calamity-howling executive with an income of $1,000 a day, who has been turning his employees over to the Government relief rolls in order to preserve his company’s undistributed reserves, tell you – using his stockholders’ money to pay the postage for his personal opinions — tell you that a wage of $11.00 a week is going to have a disastrous effect on all American industry.”
Teddy was still unconvinced that Bernie Sanders was more like his younger cousin, so he made one more point on his behalf.
“You have to admit though, Franklin,” Teddy said, “that Sanders wanting to break up the big banks is a lot like me taking on the big trusts of my day. They were the industrial titans that were bleeding the working class dry while taking advantage of their corrupt political connections to drive the will of the people out. Sanders understands that the modern day version of those people work on Wall Street, passing wealth back and forth among the upper echelon and never letting a drop ‘trickle down’ as it were.”
Franklin considered his older cousin’s remarks. He conceded that Sanders’ desire to break up the banks had parallels to Teddy’s trust busting days. He proposed a compromise.
“How about this, dear cousin,” FDR said to Teddy, “we just agree that Bernie Sanders is the closest thing in American politics to either you or me. Your old party doesn’t have anyone who remotely looks like you, and other than Sanders, my old party has a 1980’s-era version of someone from your party. So we should just agree that Bernie is like both of us combined, what do you say?”
Theodore Roosevelt grinned a wide, toothy grin. He nodded his head, and stuck out his massive hand to shake Franklin’s.
“I do say, my boy,” Teddy said, “you just laid down some real mothafuckin’ truth right there.”
“I know, right,” asked FDR rhetorically.