June 2013 3-06: How successful was President Franklin Roosevelt in winning support for his New Deal policies? (24 marks)

June 2013 3-06: How successful was President Franklin Roosevelt in winning support for his New Deal policies? (24 marks)

Advantages

  • FDR made many Americans feel confident.  He was a skilful political leader who knew how to win the hearts and minds of the people
  • the New Deal was popular because there appeared to be no viable Republican alternative. The people supported the New Deal partly because it seemed like the only hope for economic recovery
  • the New Deal did have considerable successes. Unemployment, although significant throughout the New Deal era, did fall and America’s GNP increased.
  • Americans realised that the New Deal programme was a strategy, in part, to prevent mass disturbance and even the prospect of revolution. Mass unemployment could have led to political unrest. The New Deal neutralised that prospect and Americans recognised the fundamental value of the programme in its widest sense
  • FDR was re-elected in 1936.  This election came when the first New Deal had been followed by the second New Deal programme begun in 1935. FDR was re-elected again in 1940
  • by 1941, the US economy was fully restored.

Disadvantages

  • some people felt the first New Deal did not focus enough on addressing systemic problems such as the need for meaningful state aid for the elderly.  The New Deal programme did not move towards a significant redistribution of wealth based on government intervention
  • opponents criticised the ineffectiveness of the public spending and the lack of success in creating long term solutions
  • the New Deal aroused opposition from the Republicans, populists such as Huey Long and Father Coughlin, and from the Supreme Court. This opposition accused FDR of acting like a dictator and being ‘un-American’
  • the Roosevelt Recession of 1937 showed the limitations of the New Deal.  It was only the approach of the Second World War that really kick-started the US economy.

Evaluation

Although there was mass support for the New Deal there was also a significant range of Americans, drawn from all classes who felt the New Deal was not effective.  By the late 1930s there was growing and widening discontent.  This was reflected to some extent through the number of strikes that began to occur.

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