As much as I believed I remembered from my history and government classes, the Burns style of story telling - with access to the writings and speeches of not only the primary subjects but also their friends, families, and contemporaries, brought me so much more clarity of and appreciation for the Roosevelt legacy. It reminded me of why I have always been a Democrat and reinforced my disdain for the current cabal that would call itself Democratic leadership.
It is Ken Burns' methodology to place you in the time and space of the people he is bringing to you through photos, video, and narration of expertly selected actors and, where possible, actual players in the story you are being told. In the case of the Roosevelts, he (and therefore, we) was blessed by the fact that Teddy, Franklin, and Eleanor were prolific diarists. Watching this documentary, you learn about Teddy's love and appreciation for our shared natural resources and how he fought to preserve and protect them from the corporations who would chop and drill and dig and pave over the vast wilderness and plains and mountain ranges and the politicians who served those interests. You feel the pain of average Americans who are being devastated by the greed of banks and corporations and austerity policies of a pro-business Republican Party. Yes, we are also reminded of the global interventionist bent of the Presidents Roosevelt, however, in the case of Franklin Roosevelt at least, it can be argued that he did wait for a congressional declaration of war before he simply sent troops around the world on a whim.
Now so many Democratic Party "leaders" will tell you that they are firm believers in the progressive reforms the Roosevelts brought us; yet when we ask today's candidates where they stand on single payer healthcare for all and income inequality, we are often reprimanded by these same leaders for demanding "purity."
I think Burns has done us all a great service by bringing us this story before the mid-term elections and, certainly before 2016. If you care about progressive ideals, demand that your party organization schedule a viewing of this excellent documentary.
Chad (The Left) Shue