Watching Ken Burns' excellent PBS series about the Roosevelts pointed out how some things haven't changed over the past 80 years.

In the installment about the 1930s the Republicans were opposed to setting a federal minimum wage and maximum working hours while protecting the interests and influence of the wealthy at the expense of the workers.  The party is still anti-union and anti-immigrant.

They also opposed Social Security and still do but now they call it "privatization" of the program.

Some things have changed, however.

There was a sizeable block of liberal Republicans in the Congress in the 1930s, who were progressive on domestic issues although staunchly isolationist when it came to foreign policy.

Back in FDR's day, and for more than two decades to follow, racist southern Democrats led the opposition to every effort to help African Americans, they opposed even the most minor civil rights measures.  That has changed. Thanks to LBJ and the 1964 Civil Rights Act those conservative southern Democrats are gone. They left the party and became Republicans.

Before FDR blacks were loyal to the party of Lincoln, but when the New Deal came along it no longer protected their interests so they began leaving in mass to join Roosevelt's party and haven't strayed since.

During that period Democrats began replacing the Republicans as the party that safeguarded social justice through federal power, which particularly appealed to minorities like blacks and Jews.

Roosevelt did far less than he could have and should have – despite his wife's urgings – to help the Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe, but his domestic policies helped cement Jewish loyalty to the Democratic party for generations to come, particularly as the GOP came under the strong influence of the religious and social conservatives.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.