Who is Donald J. Trump’s Forgotten Man? @AmityShlaes. Coolidge Foundation.

Jan 24, 2017, 05:13 AM

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Who is Donald J. Trump’s Forgotten Man? @AmityShlaes. Coolidge Foundation.

So who precisely is this Forgotten Man? In fact, two opposing Forgotten Men figure in American history. Which one Trump actually backs will determine what kind of presidency his ends up being.

The more familiar Forgotten Man was the brainchild of another populist campaigner, Franklin Roosevelt. During the 1932 presidential campaign, a point when two in 10 workers were unemployed, Roosevelt expressed concern for “the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid.” The New York governor meant the poor man, whose poverty he blamed on a failure of Wall Street. When he was asked about hiring some executives from the House of Morgan, a bank that loomed as large then as Goldman Sachs does today, FDR rejected the idea outright. “We simply can’t tie up with 23,” the new president said, a reference to the Morgan headquarters at 23 Wall Street. As president, Roosevelt used his social program, the New Deal, to expand his definition of the Forgotten Man. He moved on from that first group, the poor, to others: the elderly, the infirm and the worker. To him, “the forgotten man” was the vulnerable constituent group which longed for economic and political support. Roosevelt’s is the first Forgotten Man who comes to mind now. But in those days, another version was just as familiar. That was the one captured by a legendary Yale professor named William Graham Sumner. His Forgotten Man was an anonymous figure, suffering the collateral damage of a project advanced to help the group identified as vulnerable. In Sumner's definition, he was “the man who pays, the man who prays, the man who is not thought of.”