FDR relied on these camps to help generate public support for him and against his opponent for president, Kansas Governor Alf Landon. In the election of 1936, partly due to the overwhelming popularity of the CCC in places like the Great Plains, FDR crushed Landon, who even lost his home state of Kansas.
As to whether the current stimulus package will pack the same punch, I think it will. We've heard a lot about bankers benefiting from the stimulus package in that it allowed them to continue receiving their bonuses. If people on Main Street across the country were to realize benefits to their own communities from the stimulus package, I think they would undoubtedly support the Obama administration.
SOME HAVE SAID THAT THE STIMULUS PACKAGE, WHATEVER ITS SUPPORT FOR RAIL LINES AND OTHER ENVIRONMENTALLY-FRIENDLY PROJECTS, SPENDS TOO MUCH MONEY ON ROADS, BRIDGES, AND OTHER PROJECTS THAT PROMOTE AUTOMOBILE USE. ARE WE MISSING AN OPPORTUNITY TO TRANSFORM HOW WE GET FROM POINT A TO POINT B IN THIS COUNTRY?
I think it's actually ironic that when Obama was first elected, and began calling for a massive works program to help us battle our economic crisis, he mentioned not FDR's New Deal but rather Eisenhower's federal highway project of the 1950s. Obama was understandably weary of using the New Deal as a model — our country has been rolling back the New Deal for the last 75 years because we as a culture thought it was too radical. So instead of looking to the New Deal for a usable past, Obama went to Eisenhower, who could never be painted as radical.
The problem with turning to Eisenhower and his highway program is that the program has caused many of the environmental problems that we face in this country today — from air pollution and global warming due to automobile pollution to urban and suburban sprawl. The car is really the culprit here.
WILL THE STIMULUS PACKAGE RESHAPE THE AMERICAN ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT AS THE CORPS DID SOME 75 YEARS AGO?
Like Roosevelt, Obama should ask Congress to create a Civilian Conservation Corps, but with a twist. Along with planting trees, this new and improved Corps should put young Americans, both men and women, to work planting windmills across the former Dust Bowl, solar energy panels throughout the Sun Belt, and energy-efficient biofuels on farms in every corner of the country, all in an effort to reduce both unemployment and the production of greenhouse gasses that lead to global warming.