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In the 1930's in the middle of one of the most brutal times in the economy of the United States, Americans were wondering if the government was doing what was necessary to restore the economy back to its good shape. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt took hold of the command of the country, he introduced the New Deal, a number of programs aimed at getting the country back on its feet. Roosevelt promised a change from what he stated was a “hear-nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing Government”. He intended to accomplish the goals of the New Deal with the support of a greater government role. This philosophy had many positive benefits. It aimed at relief, economic recovery and widespread financial reform. FDR knew it will be a long way to recovery and that in order to get there, the whole country needs to be hand in hand. He thought that as a president, he should be the first one to open up to the people. This was the start of the famous FDR Fireside Chats, in which Roosevelt talked honestly to the people, updating them on every event and every action the Government is trying to take. This new way of communicating created a better, more trusting relationship between the citizens and their government. For better or worse, Roosevelt's New Deal greatly changed and re-defined the relationship between the people, and their government, forming for the first time in the country's history an activist state dedicated to supplying individual citizens with an amount of security against the unpredictable turns of the market.
The role of the government before Roosevelt was characterized by its hands-off approach; however, the idea of an extensive government role in the country was not necessarily new, just under used. During the government of Wilson, Hoover, and Coolidge, the political approach was “Return to Normalcy". A big part of this approach was that of a "Laissez-Faire" government, or, one that did not participate in business very visibly. The government had not played a role in the lives of the American citizen and American business for a long time, and it was going to be difficult to make a return to such a policy. Business had grown to the point of exceeding the economic levels of the period prior to the war. While these government policies made the rich richer, they also made the poor poorer. Such national policy does not work for the general well-being of a country.
Throughout the presidential campaign of 1932, Herbert Hoover stated that the New Deal was "radical”, and that the measures prescribed in the program were far too severe. Herbert Hoover and the Republican Party's voice echoed throughout the whole campaign urging the country to deny the idea of the New Deal (radical change), warning that it will wreck the country. However, FDR attempted to persuade the citizens that the New Deal is the only way. “When Republicans echoed Lincoln's 1864 slogan, (Don't change horses in the middle of a stream,) Democrats chanted, (change horses-or drown!)”. Moreover, economist John Keynes approved the theory of a fairly more active government in the life of the national economy. “If government spending increases, for example and all other components of spending remain constant, then output will increase.”Keynes supported the policies granted by the New Deal program; he found those policies an important step to a return to economic stability. However, achieving economic stability requires identifying the problem and finding a solution.
Identifying the problems is the first step of coming up with a solution. In Roosevelt's fireside chats, he identified many of the problems the country is facing. Problems included the repair of the trade and marketing levels, prices for basic merchandise, and as a result of these prices, the integrity of banks, savings banks, and insurance companies. Roosevelt promised to fix these problems through different programs, and with time these programs produced agencies and other programs, all focusing to help the people and the economy.
The programs formed in the New Deal were referred to as the “alphabet soup” because of the alphabetical names these programs got. Roosevelt knew that to get the economy pumping again, he had to start with getting the people to work. He felt that the New Deal's Programs would help fix this problem, and that was the start of the NIRA, or National Industrial Recovery Act. The main purpose of this program was to put people back to work. Between the years of 1933 and 1934, employment rose by hundreds and hundreds of thousands helping millions of families and by 1935 it rose to 2.5 million a remarkable gain in the war on unemployment. The success of this program was based on putting people back to work, they earn wages, which can then be used to purchase goods produced by companies. Such programs were extremely beneficial to the welfare of the nation. These programs wouldn't have had the chance to work unless by government support.
The New Deal not only affected American financial policy, it affected and changed the life of the workers as well. In the beginning of the New Deal years, unemployment numbers were sky high, which produced a sense of fear inside of the workers' hearts that their work could be terminated without notice. Strikes became more common, workers found the security they needed in unions and other labor organizations, like the American Federation of Labor. The AFL, with the help of the Committee for Industrial Organization, was able to establish unions in all the different American industries, it was also able to gain considerable benefits for labor. In 1935, the Wagner Act provided federal protection to such unions through the National Labor Relations Board, which allowed workers to form unions and negotiate with their bosses.
Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid and protection.
Like every other great leader, FDR had his opposition. There were antagonists who tried to kill his New Deal. One of the strongest opposition to the New Deal was the Supreme Court which kept vetoing a exorbitant number of programs and laws that aimed to help the people and economy.
But since the rise of the modern movement for social and economic progress through legislation, the Court has more and more often and more and more boldly asserted a power to veto laws passed by the Congress and State Legislatures in complete disregard of this original limitation..... We must have men worthy and equipped to carry out impartial justice. But, at the same time, we must have Judges who will bring to the Courts a present-day sense of the Constitution - Judges who will retain in the Courts the judicial functions of a court, and reject the legislative powers which the courts have today assumed.
The New deal did not just affect the role of the government or the people during Franklin Roosevelt's terms, its programs and ideology affected the whole country forever. This effect is shown in the elections of 1936 and the Democratic Party platform as follows:
- Protection of the family and the home.
- Establishment of a democracy of opportunity for all the people.
- Aid to those overtaken by disaster. These obligations, neglected through 12 years of the old leadership, have once more been recognized by American Government. Under the new leadership they will never be neglected.
- We will act to secure to the consumer fair value, honest sales and a decreased spread between the price he pays and the price the producer receives
- We shall continue just treatment of our war veterans and their dependents
These points in the Democratic Party platform implies how the government started being responsible for its citizens like never before. Moreover, if the Democratic Party platform of 1936 were to be compared to that of 1932, the huge effect of the New Deal would be remarkably sensed. The following points are a highlight of some of the issues that were in the Democratic Party platform:
We condemn paid lobbies of special interests to influence members of Congress and other public servants by personal contact.
We condemn action and utterances of high public officials designed to influence stock exchange prices.
We condemn the open and cover resistance of administrative officials to every effort made by Congressional Committees to curtail the extravagant expenditures of the Government and to revoke improvident subsidies granted to favorite interests.
These points illustrate how the government was more concerned with the inner relations among the government officials than the government relations to the people in the period prior to the New Deal.
Roosevelt's New Deal was successful in effectuating change on the government's role towards its citizens in the past, and its effect is still present through its successful programs, such as social security. It was also one of the key factors of recognizing the labor unions.