Great Depression and the Second World War
Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D Roosevelt (FDR) shared similar traits but were also significantly different. Theodore Roosevelt served as the 26th president from1901 to 1909 while Franklin D Roosevelt served as the 32nd president from 1933 until his death 1945. FDR was in power during two of the most historic and pivotal times for the American history-the Great Depression and the Second World War. These times required decisive and inspiring leadership as the hope of the American people was fragile and hence needed a leader who would make them hopeful again. Many do not refute FDR political and persuasive skills, and he did a tremendous job restoring the people's faith. On the other hand, Theodore Roosevelt served in a much more peaceful and stable period. Given the nature of the times in which they served as presidents, it appeared prudent to compare their leadership on policies, particularly the domestic policies that each created and their impact today. The comparison will dwell on the quest to protect the average citizens, and the policies they enacted to that effect. By Comparing the impact of policies created by the two presidents reveal that Theodore Roosevelt was a better president as his policies have the most positive results today.
Some scholars have praised the new deal as a policy that was instrumental in the recovery of the United States from the Great Depression while others perceive it as one of the great failures of FDR. Despite the opposing views, it is undeniable that the deal gave hope to the majority of Americans at a time when there was little hope, and people were anxious about their future and the future of the country. According to Calomiris, FDR's the forgotten man represented one who was overlooked by the market and could only be saved through governmental regulation of the economy (141).
One of the policies encompassed in the New Deal was Social Security. Roosevelt hoped that Social Security would provide some measure of protection to the average citizen' (Folsom 3). However, this was not the case as the majority of the blacks did not benefit as they were disproportionately victims of an insufficient employment opportunity for the Americans that were the least skilled and poorest (Piven and Cloward 344). On top of the discriminative way in which social security benefited the society, such programs were the foundations of the welfare system as seen today. Moreover, it led to the politicization of such social insurance programs with social security being seen as an earned right of the worker and the elderly while welfare became associated with the dependency of the poor people on the government's handouts (Wiseman 339). These perceptions are still rife and divisive today given that since people of color are likely to be unemployed and hence on welfare, it creates a negative perception of this group of individuals.
Another policy that emerged from the New Deal was the minimum wage. Minimum wage is today faced with varying and opposing views from both scholars and the public with some arguing that increasing it will benefit the weakest in the society while others argue that it will lead to further unemployment of these groups. The minimum wage which was meant to ensure that workers were guaranteed a fixed. pay (Folsom 113). It may be irrefutable that the motivation behind such policies was well intentioned and may even speak of the need to serve the ordinary citizen. However, such policies continue to have far-reaching consequences today, and although the debate on the merits and demerits of the minimum wage is still ongoing, it is undeniable that FDR's progressive ideas continue to create anxiety.
Similar to FDR, Theodore Roosevelt cared about the average citizen and sought to protect them. While FDR is remembered for the welfare and social security both of which protected the average citizen, Theodore Roosevelt is associated with Consumer Protection Laws such as the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act. The Pure Food and Drug Act banned companies from using dangerous chemicals, preservatives or any other potentially toxic components in the production of foods and drugs sold in interstate commerce (Lansford 93). The Meat Inspection Act followed the release of a book titled The Jungle where the author exposed disturbing practices that were prevalent in the meat industry (Lansford 93). These two laws expanded the scope of government's power to regulate and oversee the production and sale of foodstuffs. According to Cashman President Roosevelt was instrumental in the realization of the with Consumer Protection Laws. He achieved the above task by threatening the meat industry of exposure in a bid to force the Senate to revise the meat inspection amendment and further expand federal inspections of meat. His efforts paid off, and the Meat Inspection Act was signed into law in 1906.
One of the policies established by Theodore Roosevelt that has an impact today is his conservation policy. This policy required more regulation of the big businesses. Theodore Roosevelt was highly concerned with the environment and sought ways to protect and preserve it. He used executive order to protect forest which formed a precedent that was later used by other presidents in dealing with economic, environmental policy making that limited the sale and use of national lands. During his tenure, there was a tremendous expansion of the protection afforded to national land and forests. According to Lansford, the Congress showed little inclination to increase its support for the president's conservation efforts prompting him to make executive orders (97). Roosevelt executive orders resulted in the creation of 18 national monuments and numerous national parks, birds and game reserves and national forests (Lansford 97). He transferred the Division of Forestry to the Department of the Interior with the subsequent renaming of the Bureau to National Forest Reserve. According to Lansford, this change had both practical and symbolic implications (97). It signified that forests were to be protected as they were an environmental resource and not an agricultural resource.
Theodore Roosevelt's conservation legacy can be seen in the numerous national wildlife refuges present in every state. He understood the importance of sustainability of environmental resources in a time when such views were not popular. Today environmental conservation and sustainability are familiar terms and everyone from business to government aim to ensure that their practices align to the principle of sustainability and preservation. The 1906 American Antiquities Act led to the protection of approximately 230 million acres of public land (Lansford 100). This act allowed the president to declare areas that had particular historic or scientific interest as National Monument. These sites are still present and are a testimony to the long-term effects of some policies. Roosevelt love for nature resulted in his support of policies and use of executive orders that led to the effective conservation of the environment. His love of nature could also be seen in some of his writings which praised nature and revealed his connection to it.
Despite Franklin D Roosevelt's government being labeled as liberal, progressive and democratic in character, some policies it enacted still have adverse effects today. Although the creation of the policies might have good intentions, the effects are what eventually matter. The New Deal created the welfare system which forces future generations to pay for the spending of previous generations. Although it might have been beneficial in the short term, and when there was a larger ratio of working people compared to those retired, it turns out to be a headache as the proportion of the working people to the retired keep decreasing. On the other hand, Theodore Roosevelt's consumer protection and conservation policies are enjoyed today. Parks provide recreational space across America while consumers are protected through policies that strive for the safety of consumer goods. Even though both presidents sought to protect citizens, they had different methods of achieving their goals. The differences in the effects of the policies enacted by the two presidents indicate that Theodore Roosevelt was a better president than Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Calomiris, Charles W. "A Raw Deal-Reconsidering the Great Depression." Foreign Aff. 86 (2007): 141.
Cashman, Sean D.T America Ascendant: From Theodore Roosevelt to Fdr in the Century of American Power, 1901-1945. New York [u.a.: New York University Press, 1998. Print.
Folsom, Burton W. New Deal or Raw Deal?: How Fdr's Economic Legacy Has Damaged America. New York: Threshold Editions,T 2014. Print.
Lansford, Tom.T Theodore Roosevelt in Perspective. New York: Novinka Books, 2005. Print.
Piven, Frances Fox and Cloward, Richard. tWelfareT Explosion of The 1960s.t Welfare And The State: The Zenith Of Western Welfare State Systems, Nicholas Deakin et al., 1st ed., Taylor & Francis, London, 2004, pp. 326-354,.
Wiseman, Jack. "The Welfare State: A Public Choice Perspective". Welfare And The State: The Zenith Of Western Welfare State Systems, Nicholas Deakin et al., 1st ed., Taylor & Francis, London, 2004, pp. 308-325,.
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