September 06, 2019

Photo Credit: FPG / Staff / Getty Images

In the midst of the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt campaigned on a platform that would bring radical change to America: a package of policies he called the New Deal. The New Deal completely reinvented our infrastructure and central government, according to Eric Rauchway, a professor of history at the University of California, Davis, and author of the book Winter War: Hoover, Roosevelt, and the First Clash Over the New Deal. He says that the effects of FDR’s revolutionary plan remain with us today. And indeed, many of the 2020 Democratic candidates are proposing policies that would amount to a new New Deal. But is the country ready? 

Three Takeaways:

  • Roosevelt’s New Deal didn’t just seek to meet the immediate needs of an economy in the depths of the Great Depression, but it also looked ahead to the future, striving to revitalize Americans’ faith in government.
  • We might remember the New Deal for its extraordinary achievements of dam-building and bringing electricity to impoverished areas of the United States. But if you’ve walked on a sidewalk, driven comfortably on a wide road, deposited your money at the bank, or benefited from Social Security, you, too, have the New Deal to thank. 
  • Some Democratic nominees for president are actively trying to invoke the rhetoric of the New Deal, channeling the idea that we’re going to reinvent our infrastructure in a sustainable way, while attacking inequities in the U.S. Rauchway says that Republican criticism of these plans closely echoes President Herbert Hoover’s opposition to FDR’s proposals.

More Reading:

  • We often think of FDR as the man, the myth, and the legend behind the implementation of the New Deal. The New Yorker explores how Roosevelt’s revolutionary policies and programs fit into the larger landscape of the country and the world.
  • The textbook story is that FDR single-handedly rescued American capitalism, but The New York Times explains why the New Deal wasn’t that simple - or that successful - from the start.
  • Alongside the remaining government programs from the New Deal, its rhetoric also endures. The Washington Post describes the Green New Deal - a plan to combat climate change championed by many of today’s Democrats.
  • That assassination attempt on FDR could have changed the course of history. The Miami Herald has more details from its archives. 

Eric Rauchway, Culture, politics, FDR, new deal

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