Roosevelt may not have been able to understand the concerns and fears of ‘ordinary Americans’, although American was not ordinary in comparison to others during the 1930s. He attended Harvard University and Columbia Law School, both extremely prestigious establishments. He became a successful lawyer, rich and upper class.
However ‘ordinary Americans’ were not the same. They had lost their money, homes, their businesses; their banks had become bankrupt and their shares had collapsed in the Wall Street Crash. Roosevelt did not have direct experience with financial loss of this multitude. However he was intelligent enough to recognize it.
He was an optimist without being patronising and a good orator.
Even his wife Eleanor was very conscious about pressing issues such as Women Rights.
How far was Roosevelt himself responsible for his election victory in 1932?
Roosevelt helped Americans regain faith in the American system. He bought hope as he promised; promptly with vigorous action he stated in his Inaugural Address, ‘the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’ Roosevelt himself did not win the victory but rather what his policy (the New Deal) offered won the election. He travelled through most of America in his attempt to reach individuals that had been harshly affected by the Depression.
Roosevelt had precise objectives for his New Deal. They included reducing unemployment, reforming banks, and providing welfare for the ill, elderly and unemployed. He strived to make manufacturing industries to recuperate and to for agriculture to recover. These polices appealed to Americans because it was what the country needed in order to overcome the Depression.
However Roosevelt may have owed his victory to Herbert Hoover’s unpopularity. Hoover was unpopular because he was unable to find a solution to the Depression while Roosevelt’s New Deal was a solution. Hoover insisted that ‘prosperity is just around the corner’. However many Americans were suffering and waiting for prosperity was not an option. Due to his perspective of lingering around he was perceived as the ‘do-nothing’ President, which ordinary Americans disliked, as they did not believe this was the correct course of action.
Hoover was extremely ostracized by farmers and unemployed workers, which was most of the population. In response to his ‘do-nothing’ accusations, Hoover introduced tax cuts in 1931. But this only benefited those with incomes and meant a decrease in welfare, only causing more dislike toward him. Hoover tired to protect US industries from bankruptcy by introducing tariffs on foreign goods but these only put a stain on international trade and worsen the Depression. He also blocked the Garner-Wagner Relief Bill, which would have allowed Congress to provide 2.1 billion dollars in order to create jobs. Hoover also refused to admit American had had economic problems, and blamed it solely on Europe’s economic weaknesses. Hoover did not appeal to ordinary Americans as he ignored their needs.
Roosevelt did everything in his power to make sure their needs were looked after. Roosevelt believed in ‘active government’ designed to improve the lives of ordinary Americans, who were workers than then being exceptionable rich. He planned to get people back to work, like he had already started doing in his own state New York as the Governor.
Roosevelt sought advice on important issues from a large range of different experts for example union leaders and factory owners. All of his qualities, including his fairness, made him hugely popular.
It could be argued that Roosevelt won some votes due to sympathy or pity to his disability of poliomyelitis, partly paralysing him. But Roosevelt never exploited this hinder.
It conclusion, its seems Roosevelt won the election because of his offer of the New Deal was better then Hoover’s proposal of doing nothing. Hoover was so unpopular and useless that Roosevelt won the election. Roosevelt was more positive and had a strategy in order to overcome the Depression that appealed to the majority of America.
Life did get better for many Americans in the 1930s. How far was Roosevelt responsible for this, or was it due to other factors? Explain your answer.
Roosevelt posited the First and Second New Deal, which helped to make life better in the 1930s. The Deals achieved many things. Firstly they ended the Depression from becoming worse. In order to reform banks the Emergency Banking Act closed down all the banks in the first ‘Hundred Days’ since Roosevelt had been elected. The banks were all checked and only the most efficiently working banks were reopened with the state’s support.
The Federal Emergency Relief Administration spent five hundred million dollars on providing for the poor. The Agricultural Adjustment Administration set quotes to reduce overproduction in farming. Camps were also later on built for migrant workers to have better living conditions. Loans were also given so farmer could purchase land.
The Public Work Administration created more jobs by building new schools, roads and buildings. Later on jobs were also created for office workers, actors, and photographers. The National Recovery Administration improved work conditions for example child labour was outlawed and introducing fairer wages for all. Also it became illegal to fire a worker for being in a union. The Tennessee Valley Authority created more jobs and provided electricity for the majority of households via hydroelectric power.
On the other hand there were other factors that made life better for Americans in the 1930s. In Europe war was breaking out due to the rise of Adolf Hitler. William Leuchtenberg a historian stated that ‘not until the war year of 1943 did the army of jobless finally disappear’. He meant that America’s economy started to function well from the large quantities of military equipment being produced and sold.