Roosevelt was voted in for his first term in office in 1932. Roosevelt displayed smiling confidence throughout the campaign. He campaigned throughout the country, outlining in general terms his program for recovery and reform he intended to make, this became known as the new deal. Roosevelt received 22,822,00 votes compared to Hoover’s 15,762,000, the electoral vote was 472 to 59. Roosevelt took office on 4th March 1933. I am first going to look at the factors of Roosevelt’s election victory that he was directly responsible for. Roosevelt’s personality appealed to a wide range of people from many different walks of life.
His most appealing personality trait was that he always looked for the best in people and wanted to get the best for them. He was also not arrogant and had empathy for the suffering of the poor in the depression. This empathy may have stemmed from his illness. This gave him a physical problem, whereas the public had an economic problem, but the despair was he same. This made people feel closer to him and would have helped him gain votes. Roosevelt also understood the problems and hardships of people in both rural and industrial areas as he had experiences of both from earlier in his life.
Because of this knowledge he aimed his policies at both types of life style. This is something that other politicians did not do, this allowed him to get votes from both areas and not having to rely on getting votes from just one. From 1928-32 Roosevelt was the governor of New York City. Being New York Cities governor allowed him to see more of the problems for city dwelling Americans especially immigrants. As many immigrants lived in New York City (about 1 million), he instigated many social policies while he was governor. He concentrated on a program to give tax relief to farmers and to provide cheaper public utilities for consumers.
These policies made him very popular in New York and led to his re-election as governor in 1930. This popularity would have carried through into his presidential election campaign. Being New York City governor was also a great stepping stone to the presidency and this combination would have helped him greatly. Although Roosevelt’s election campaign organizers organized his speeches and places to visit, he set them up in the first place. Roosevelt’s knowledge from previous campaign organization would have helped him pick the right people to help him.
On Roosevelt’s election campaign he used the car extensively and was the first president to do so. This gave him extensive mobility and allowed him to undertake vast campaigning tours. This would have added to his popularity, as he would have spoken to a lot of the electorates that other candidates had not bothered to do. Roosevelt was also a great orator and his speeches were very popular. And obviously if his speeches were popular then his votes were obviously going to be high. In his speeches Roosevelt promised vast work schemes to provide work for all Americans.
This is something that Hoover did not do. Because of this Hoover did not have a lot of support from the unemployed. This would have lowered his popularity as at the time America was in depression and unemployment was very high (at least 13,000,000. ) In his speeches Roosevelt criticized Hoover personally but not the Republican Party or it’s general policies. This allowed Roosevelt not to alienate the Republican public from his campaign. Because he didn’t say that the Republicans on the whole were wrong they were willing to listen to what he said and this would have increased his vote.
This is also linked into the support Roosevelt had in congress from the Republicans. They believed in his ideas and had trust in Theodore Roosevelt 9Republican and ex-President) who also supported him. President Clinton has praised Roosevelt’s election victory when he said, ‘He was a master politician and a great commander-in-chief. ‘ This shows that another person who became president at a later date believed that Roosevelt knew what he was doing to get elected. It emphasis Roosevelt’s political skill and knowledge of the election process.
All the points I have stated for why Roosevelt was responsible for his 1932 presidential election victory, show that he knew that he was doing and how to do it. All these points show his good knowledge and how he appealed to nearly all Americans. I am now going to analyze the reasons why Roosevelt was not responsible for his 1932 election victory. Roosevelt’s main opponent was the current president Herbert Hoover. He was the president at the beginning of the depression and he was blamed for the major effect it had on people. As the depression worsened people were forced out of the towns and cities and into shantytowns on the out skirts.
These became nicknamed ‘Hoovervilles’ after President Hoover. This became an impossible tag to remove and severely damaged his election campaign. Hoover also damaged his reputation when he had to put down a revolt. Soldiers from the First World War joined together and formed the ‘bonus army. ‘ They called them selves this because they wanted money as payment for fighting in the war. They began to riot as they realized that their demands would not be met. Hoover decided to put down the revolt by tear gassing the soldiers. This gave him a really bad image and he lost the support of the soldiers and ex-soldiers.
These unpopular mistakes badly hurt his election campaign and so people voted for Roosevelt, as he was the best alternative. Because of the depression everyone was unhappy and life was miserable for ordinary Americans. This is an extract from a man’s diary at the line. ‘It was sheer HELL! It was seemed every lighting bolt from hell came right at us! The only heaven we ever knew was in the hereafter. ‘ Because everyone was so unhappy they blamed the government and wanted a change in power. Because many people had these feelings, it was inevitable that the government would change.
This meant democrats, like Roosevelt, had a more than likely chance of getting into power. People wanted a new angle in policy and Hoover did not offer this so in a way he had shot himself in the foot allowing Roosevelt a way in. Roosevelt seemed like a caring and compassionate candidate but this may only have been compared to Hoover. Hoover was a rugged individualist. This meant he believed people should look after themselves. This was not a good attitude to have when the country wanted the government to help them. Hoover had aided his opponent by following this line of policy and so helped Roosevelt.
Roosevelt’s wife was a great believer in helping the poor. Her family had a tradition of giving aid to them. She was a very popular woman and as many Americans were poor at the time by helping them she gained their support. With many of the poor supporting her it is not unlikely that they would vote for her husband in the election. They believed that if he got into power he would listen to her and the poor would be greatly helped. This gave Roosevelt a lot of the votes without having to do a lot of work and as the poor was a large part of the population he gained a lot of votes.
All capitalist economies go through a set cycle that is continuous, the only things that change are the extremes of the falls and climbs. See fig. 1 for a graph of how the economy fluctuates. The extremes of the economy are Boom and Bust. A Boom means prices are low and wages are high. People earn a lot of money and spend a lot. A bust means that prices are high and wages are low. People save money and do not spend. Normally an economy does not reach these extremes because the government changes tax rates to make people spend or save more.
The wall street crash was a major bust. The government could have stopped it from happening if it had controlled the economy properly but it did not which helped Roosevelt. Also if you look at fig. 1 you will see that after a time the economy will recover naturally. So even if Hoover had stayed in charge things would have got better any way. Roosevelt was not responsible for people’s ignorance that life was never going to get better. He was just lucky that the depression happened and he knew how to manipulate the circumstances to get into power.
All the points I have stated for why Roosevelt was not responsible for his election victory in 1932 show that he was perfectly set up to take the job of president without trying. His main rival made mistakes and the circumstances were perfect for a change in power. Overall I think that Roosevelt was given the perfect opportunity to take the presidency but if he had not been such a good and cleaver politician he would not have made it. I think Roosevelt was responsible for his election victory but in any other circumstances he may not have made it.