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Love the people, and they will love you back

    Monday, June 26, 2017 -- (Long Beach, CA) -- The Majority Leader of the United States Senate will not talk with the March of Dimes.

    Mitch McConnell (R-KY) knows what polio is. He suffered it.

    Countless millions suffered it, including a rich and powerful man in New York.

    The difference between Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the current Majority Leader is that Mr. Roosevelt loved the people. And they loved him.

    Okay, true, he didn’t lift a hand for the super-rich. He was one, but when elected as President, Mr. Roosevelt opted to care more about ordinary Americans, when the world’s economy had collapsed into a Great Depression.

    At the depth of the collapsed economy were countless families, whose children suffered the crushing pain and lifelong crippling of polio.

    Mr. Roosevelt had been swimming in the early 1920s, after he rose from the rich, and held the job of Senator and then ran the US Navy day-to-day during a world war. When he got in from the water, he complained of not feeling well, and within days it was seen that polio had dropped him to his knees.

    For the rest of his life, Mr. Roosevelt, one of America’s greatest political leaders, could not walk on his own, suffered constant agony, and was in a wheelchair.

    So what does a man who had everything do once reduced to possibly nothing?

    First, he never gave up.

    In 1920, he was the Democratic nominee for Vice President, after having run the US Navy and been a state senator in America’s biggest state. After polio, he wasn’t sure whether life itself mattered. Only by his sheer personal strength did he carry himself forward.

    Five years after being forced into a wheelchair, Mr. Roosevelt won election as governor of America’s biggest state.

    When the economy melted, and millions lost everything and countless Americans starved, the Governor of New York carried the Flag. The federal government did nothing for three long years, and it was Mr. Roosevelt who fed the hungry, hired the needy, and helped the injured.

    It was children with polio -- that crippling agony he lived with -- that most defines our greatest what it means to love the people.

    When elected to be president, Mr. Roosevelt had been visiting a town in Georgia, where warm waters gave him relief from the agony of polio. The town itself was going bankrupt, owing to the Great Depression, and a federal government unwilling to lift its hand to help any state.

    When the Roosevelts bought Warm Springs, GA, with their own money, they opened a foundation, so that disabled kids could move there for ongoing treatment, and personal wellness in every formed, including simply to know that the would eat and be loved.

    In addition to the Roosevelt Foundation, the President made a constant effort to get ordinary Americans to gather a dime that could be used to help win the mission of saving kids with polio.

    The March of Dimes was so visible as evidence of how Mr. Roosevelt loved ordinary people -- and particularly disabled kids who needed a place to sleep and eat -- that when he died, the dime itself was given the face of Mr. Roosevelt.

    Now, we have a Majority Leader of the United States Senate who is pushing forward a fundamental shift in federal health care laws. Sure, everyone knows that the ACA essentially looks like Frankenstein’s monster, but that is mostly because the division of our nation is so deep, that when a bolt appeared across the monster’s head, Mr. McConnell and his army carrying torches and pitchforks made clear their only goal was to kill the beast.

    Tens of millions of ordinary Americans will see their own future drop them to their own knees, just as kids experienced with polio -- like he did.

    The March of Dimes marched to the Senator, and he refused to meet them.

    So what can be say of Franklin Delano Roosevelt? He loved the people. Ordinary people.

    What can now be said of the Majority Leader who feeds the super-rich? Perhaps Mr. McConnell’s own legacy is that when he continued to walk, his own march was not to give dimes to the needy, but keep dollars for himself, and others who are rich.

    TO READ ABOUT MARCH OF DIMES... A fighting chance for everyone’s baby. HERE

    TO READ ABOUT THE SENATOR... The man who refused to listen to them. HERE

    TO READ ABOUT WARM SPRINGS, GEORGIA... The last “great” president (rank historians), whose true greatness is measured not by title or power, but his love of ordinary Americans. HERE

    FOR PURPOSE OF TELLING THE TRUTH... The Party of Grace will use ten cents of every dollar gathered to help homeless and disabled kids. Think what one wishes about adults, but our nation suffers agony of the soul if we turn our backs on kids who most need help. HOW EVERY DOLLAR IS USED

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Billy Orton is a novelist and historian living in Long Beach, California.