climegaads / April 30, 2017

What was it like in Washington when the 100 days was first invoked? That milestone marked the passage of FDR’s New Deal legislation and the conclusion of the special session of Congress that accomplished all that.
I’ve been collecting autograph letters for years and am mesmerized by two items of mine in particular: FDR’s twin thank-you letters to Congress upon completion of his 100-days legislative initiative. FDR was inaugurated on March 4th, so his hundred days came in June. On June 15th he sent these letters to Congress as it completed its special session: a typed document which Speaker Henry R. Rainey read to the special session, and a brief handwritten note to the speaker asking him to thank the congress.
FDR writes: “Before the adjournment of the Special Session, I want to convey to you and the members of the House of Representatives, and expression of my thanks for making possible, on the broad average, a more sincere and more whole hearted cooperation between the Legislative and the Executive branches of the United States Government than has been witnessed by the American people in many a long year.”
“This spirit of team-work has in most cases transcended party lines. It has taken cognizance of a crisis in the affairs of our nation and of the world. It has grasped the need for a new approach to our problems both new and old. It has proved that our form of government can rise to an emergency and carry through a broad program in record time. ”
Contrast that with this, from Trump writing of Congress yesterday: “You can’t go through a process like this. It’s not fair. It forces you to make bad decisions. I mean, you’re really forced into doing things that you would normally not do except for these archaic rules.”
The greatest presidents build broad support for new ideas, and express a clear vision that speaks to and includes much of the nation. This White House seems better at expressing what not to do (no obamacare, less science) than what to do (what replacement health care, which trade policy?) Perhaps for the next 100 days America can turn to local government for the best ideas! Lets challenge members and governors to depict their plans for how to build new industry and retrainAmerica (examples we’ve written of here http://bit.ly/2oJlCGg and here http://bit.ly/2mbIeJU and lead from innovation cities, as Brookings writes here http://brook.gs/2gqvwqE
Ours is a time of flourishing localism. “It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system,” Justice Louis D. Brandeis wrote in 1932, “that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” For the next 100 days, and the 100 days after lets turn to the genius of our towns, cities and states for cues of the future of America.