During the 1930s Roosevelt’s New Deal was seen as a blessing, Roosevelt helped people and improved the quality of the American lifestyle. Though a small minority of people at the time would argue against this, women and blacks were two of the groups in which Roosevelt gave little help to. There were three main individuals who strongly opposed the New Deal; Huey Long, Father Coughlin and Dr Townsend. Huey Long, also known as ‘Kingfish’, supported the New Deal in the beginning. Four years after being elected Senate of Louisiana, he announced a ‘Share Out Wealth’ movement.
It was aimed at sharing all the wealth from the rich to the poor. He promised every American a home worth $5,000, an annual income of $2,500, a car, a radio and a better education. Huey Long hoped to stand in the 1936 Presidential Elections after gaining 7 million supporters but he was assainated in September 1935. Dr Townsend’s aims were focused on the elderly. Many savings were lost when the banks collapsed. Townsend’s idea was to provide a pension of $200 per month. Father Coughlin set up his own National League for Social Justice in 1934.
He attacked bankers and Jews. He also made personal threats on President Roosevelt. Women hardly benefited from the New Deal, most of the New Deal was aimed at manual and construction labour, in those days only seen as the work of men. During the 1930s the number of women unemployed went down, this was due to them being seen as cheap labour, their wages were half of what the men earned. Local governments avoided the task of paying out social security to women; they delayed it by introducing special qualifications and conditions concerning women.
Throughout the New Deal blacks remained second-class citizens. In the New Deal, isolation in education, transport and public places was still continued, racism and discrimination against blacks still remained. Roosevelt’s argument against this was that to make the New Deal successful he needed the help of Democratic congressmen in the South, these of which strongly opposed civil rights to blacks. Therefore no laws were ever passed against the lynching of black Americans. On the other hand thousands of blacks received more relief than ever before.
Many upper-class citizens believed Roosevelt’s New Deal policies went against their way of living; wealthy Americans hated having to pay higher taxes, especially knowing it was to pay for the work of the New Deal agencies. Business owners resented Roosevelt’s support for trade unions and campaigns to raise wages. By introducing trade unions and social security it seemed as if America’s workers had lost their independence, they saw the social security act as a leaning post for the dependent and lazy workers.
Many strikes against companies were formed; these were often broken up by violence. This caused problems for Roosevelt, as it was him who passed the law saying workers in the trade had the right to strike and not get sacked. This annoyed employers because their workers were not working. Business owners turned against Roosevelt; they claimed he was ruining businesses and trade. This put doubts in the back of people’s minds, the NRA was set up to help bring employers and employees; in this case it was the opposite. Despite all this Roosevelt still had America’s support behind him.
Roosevelt gave back America’s hope, self-esteem and self-confidence; he learned the most important factor of his success was to gain the trust of the American people. He became popular with his ‘fireside chats’, each and every American who listened to his tactics over the radio felt part of his actions, and he asked the Americans to work with him. The New Deal produced better social security for American citizens. The New Deal provided schools, roads and other landmarks; this was seen as a basis for future prosperity.
On the other hand government and public money was wasted, to begin with the money was given out to those he needed it but Roosevelt knew this money would not last forever and just hoped it would work. Though America had doubts when Roosevelt introduced the ‘Second New Deal’, it looked as if he hadn’t been doing anything to overcome America’s problems therefore he created a ‘Second New Deal’ perhaps to try once again to get the success he aimed for. Towards the end of the New Deal the Supreme Court declared many of the provisions of the New Deal illegal.
Roosevelt threatened the Supreme Court by saying he would appoint six new judges, this threat scared the Supreme Court and made them agree with his tactics. This made him very unpopular with the public; they thought Roosevelt wanted to be a dictator. In 1936 things started to change for Roosevelt. Roosevelt was also cutting back on spending therefore there were fewer jobs to go around. Unemployment was raised once again after Roosevelt lay off many workers who been employed by organisations set up through the New Deal.
At the same time the rest of the world was falling into depression, therefore Roosevelt couldn’t borrow money from other countries to get the government out of debt. Regardless of all this Roosevelt still won the 1940 Presidential elections, the New Deal was probably seen to work more compared to the work of Hoover or lack of it. Nothing was done to solve the problems while Hoover remained president, his face was even banished from cinema screens to avoid embarrassment. Roosevelt became the first American President to serve three consecutive terms in office.
Overall I think that the New Deal was a success to a certain extent. America definitely benefited from some of the schemes of the New Deal and Roosevelt still remained very popular with the citizens of America but I think that a lot of Roosevelt’s success depended on the failure of Herbert Hoover. Hoover refused to solve the problems of the depression; he insisted ‘prosperity is just around the corner’. Hoovers tactics were described as ‘too little, too late’. If Hoover hadn’t ran away from the problems facing his country would Roosevelt be as popular?
I think all Roosevelt did was restore the American Dream back into people’s heads. By giving back confidence to the Americans they felt like they were getting out of the depression and back onto the right track. In the beginning Roosevelt was confident of victory against Hoover in the 1932 elections yet he still toured the country giving speeches and promising the nation a New Deal, this seemed as if he really did want the best for America but still his ideas were vague and general.
When Roosevelt created the New Deal it seemed as if he was helping them, getting stuck in straight away. I doubt the New Deal was thought through properly, the money they were giving out and the promises Roosevelt was giving were not going to last forever. Many of Roosevelt’s laws weren’t permanent. By the end of it one third of the nation became the New Deals ‘unfinished business’.