March 31, 1936 – Democracy And The Constitution In An Era Of Unrest – Past Daily Reference Room
Democracy and the Constitution – periodically, during our nation’s history, the very basis of our democracy and the principles of the Constitution have come under fire and scrutiny. We very nearly fell apart during the period of the Civil War – we were in danger again of our democracy coming under fire and a threat to our constitution during those years of the Great Depression – when the nation was struggling under massive unemployment and unrest.
During those times protest had given way to dissent and dissent had run the risk of being sidetracked by chaos and division. The division forges deep scars and tears apart families, alienates communities and further disenfranchises the powerless. The end result is a nation no longer seen as a whole, but a fracture of divisions and factions. Of armed camps and distrust and bitterness.
Maybe we are on the verge of that now – the divisions are just as deep now as they were in the 1930s, when this broadcast essay was delivered. Of course, much has changed since 1936. Technology and society aside, our political system has undergone numerous changes. For one thing – a President may now only serve two terms. In 1936 there were no term limits and, as was evidence by President Roosevelt, ran successfully four times. We also had limits on what a campaign contribution could be. We also had a stricter Federal Communications Commission and anti-trust laws.
But the fragile nature of our Democracy and Constitution are still very much there – very much apparent. And now, as it was in the 1930s, very much a point of concern.
As a way of reminding you and to let you know that things often do repeat, here is an essay by Journalist and commentator William Hard, as he delivered it as part of this weekly series of radio programs called You And Your Government, first broadcast on March 31, 1936.