What if FDR Had Lived?



This article is the continuation of my series If They Had Lived. To date, the articles in this series have explored what our world and/or nation might be like if Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK), John F. Kennedy (JFK), and Abraham Lincoln had survived. In this article, we will consider what would our country might be like if Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) had lived? Imagine if our 32nd President of the United States had not died early into his fourth term of office and survived to complete his ambitious agenda. What would our world look like if FDR had lived?

FDR is one of the most accomplished and revered presidents in American history. His accomplishments in office and legacy live on via his “New Deal” programs, Fireside Chats, and ability to navigate the nation through its worst economic endeavor, the Great Depression, which lasted from 1929-39. He left an indelible mark on the country and remains the only President of the United States to be elected to four terms in office.

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

This is because irate Republicans, who were looking to attack FDR’s legacy, teamed up with Southern Democrats who opposed the New Deal three years later, in 1947, to pass the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which imposed presidential terms limits. In an attempt to diminish the progressive president’s enduring legacy, the 22nd Amendment, which limits U.S. Presidents to two terms, was pushed through the House of Representatives in 1947, and later, the U.S. Senate by 1951, where it was met with approval by the three-fourths majority needed to ratify or change the U.S. Constitution. However, it should be noted that this alteration to our country’s principal governing document was achieved with virtually no public debate and/or participation in the process. Thus, circumventing the initial premise to the preamble of the U.S. Constitution–“We the People.” This omission of “public participation” calls into question the legality of the ratification and begs the following question: Should the 22nd Amendment be invalidated since the citizens of the United States were never given a proper voice in the process? If so, what presidential term restrictions should be instituted in its place? Would the 22nd Amendment have been passed if FDR had lived?

I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

It is important to note that the presidential term limits apply to two consecutive terms in the White House. Theoretically, a president could serve one or two terms in office, and then, run again in another four years or later on in life, depending on the candidate’s desire, age, and/or health. Case in point, President Grover Cleveland, who is the only commander-in-chief to serve two non-consecutive terms. Cleveland served as our 22nd and 24th President of the United States from 1885-89 and 1893-97, respectively.

Roosevelt was an agent of sweeping change and he used his unprecedented tenure as President of the United States to create programs that continue to sustain the American people and strengthen our foundation as a nation. His “First 100 Days” in office set a new standard for erecting change in the White House and this tradition continues today across the board and political lines. FDR enacted many historic measures during his time in the Oval Office, most notably his New Deal programs, which focused on the three “Rs”–Relief, Reform, and Recovery.


The reform programs enacted by FDR were created to bring economic stability to the nation, in the wake of the Great Depression. FDR’s programs, which included the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and Social Security Administration (SSA), just to name a few, focused on the management of money from the stock market and banking sector to the individual citizen.

Some of FDR’s relief programs included the Emergency Banking Act, which ensured that only solvent banks remained open, along with banking holidays, which were originally instituted to close financial institutions when a wave of financial panic occurred. These programs were implemented to halt the continued economic downward spiral. In today’s economy, it would be considered a massive stimulus package. Other relief programs of note included the Civil Works Administration (CWA), Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and Federal Emergency Relief Act (FERA), which were all introduced in 1933 and provided immediate relief in the form of cash assistance and temporary employment to struggling, distressed American citizens. FDR’s relief and reform programs worked in league to accomplish the recovery portion of his three Rs agenda, which sought to return the economy to normal levels, as well as reform the financial system on a national level to prevent another financial catastrophe, similar to the Great Depression.

Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

FDR’s innovative approach and groundbreaking programs reinvigorated the nation, helped stabilize the economy, and set the country on a new path to prosperity as it embarked on WWII. He was a man of vision, intelligence, and determination. His perseverance rallied for and erected change. He heard the cries of the masses and responded with encouragement and compassion. While Roosevelt’s legacy inspired many and intimidated others, there is no denying that FDR would have accomplished even more in life if he had survived. The accounts of his death and causes behind it remain debatable. Whether it was a cerebral aneurysm, stroke, complications of his polio, or cancer (as has been widely speculated in recent years), the contributions and achievements of FDR’s administration cannot be diminished. The reports of his failing health and extramarital affairs have created controversy over the years, but Roosevelt’s legacy remains secure as he is considered one of the finest U.S. Presidents ever to hold office. As we ask the question: What would our world look like if FDR had lived? Consider this: Imagine our nation if we never had benefitted from FDR’s influence. Ponder what other feats FDR might have accomplished if he had lived, and stay tuned to Guardian Liberty Voice for more articles in my continuing series, If They Had Lived.

Opinion and Blog Written & Edited by Leigh Haugh

More Articles in This Series:

Guardian Liberty Voice–What if Martin Luther King Jr. Had Lived?

Guardian Liberty Voice–What if John F. Kennedy Had Lived?

Guardian Liberty Voice–What if Abraham Lincoln Had Lived?

Personal Observations and Opinions of the Author
Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum–Roosevelt Facts and Figures
History–New Deal
Quora–Why did the U.S. pass a two-term limit on Presidents after FDR?
History–Great Depression
All Article Images Courtesy of WikiMedia Commons – Creative Commons License

7 thoughts on “What if FDR Had Lived?

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  3. ““We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work.”

    – Henry Morgenthau Jr, Sec of Treasury, architect of the New Deal.

    So, no, FDR’s “innovative approach and groundbreaking programs reinvigorated the nation, helped stabilize the economy, and set the country on a new path to prosperity as it embarked on WWII” did NOT do any of that. In fact, they accomplished the exact opposite, grinding what should have been a 2-3 year recession into a decade long Great Depression. Roosevelt’s efforts made the matters WORSE, not better, and it was only WWII that dragged us out.

  4. How sad. This is nothing but a puff piece on FDR, and a hit piece on those who disagreed with him, which disagreements can substantially be supported.

    Franklin Roosevelt was a fantastic war leader, but a terrible president who, having grown up a child of privilege, and never having actually run a successful business himself, let his “white guilt” dictate and determine his policy. He also believed, as does every liberal before and since, that HE and his advisors are the smartest people on the planet, and they know what’s best for you.
    Very disappointing.

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