Strengths and Weaknesses of the New Deal, Essay Example in American History

Published: 2022-03-31
Strengths and Weaknesses of the New Deal, Essay Example in American History
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  American history
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 1009 words
9 min read

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt took over the reins of the American republic at a time of great economic and financial turmoil. The economy was collapsed, bank runs were the norm, the population was impoverished, and the confidence in the government was at its lowest ever(. The great depression had broken the spirit of the American public. Roosevelt, therefore, decided that the best way to address the desperate times was to institute drastic measures. Thus, the New Deal was conceived. The New Deal was a couple of federal programs aimed to spur economic recovery, through job creation, investment in public works, and civic uplifting. Through Roosevelt leadership style, the New Deal's proved to be effective in turning the economy around, saving the capitalistic model of America, and securing success in the post-war period. However, the project could only be sustained through government spending.

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A complete analysis of the pillars of the new deal would be incomplete without including the president himself. As previously stated, the trust of the American public in government systems had been eroded almost in its entirety. If the New Deal was to succeed, Roosevelt knew that he needed to secure the cooperation of the entire republic. He relied on his unique charisma and courage to rally both the citizens and Congress around his plan. He used the social platform for creating awareness of his intentions. For instance, using his fireside chats over the radio; he explained how he intended to revive the economy.

Importantly, he had a charming personality and inexorable optimism. Unlike what many leaders had done in Italy and Soviet Union, Roosevelt never opted for dictorship despite the an outcry by one of a journalist. He publicly confessed that he had no answer to the problem, but be believed that all what th nation needed was an action (Shi and George 842). He used analogies to break down concepts that would have otherwise been difficult for the common citizen to understand. In so doing, he created an aura of transparency around the Office of the President and got millions of Americans on board with his New Deal.

The main strength of the New Deal was job creation. By the time Roosevelt came into office, 25% of the American workforce had lost their jobs. Many of these individuals were breadwinners, which mean that their families had been left destitute with no way to fend for themselves ("Letters to Eleanor Roosevelt" n. p). The New Deal managed to address the problem of unemployment on a national scale. Through the infrastructure development projects, millions of jobs were created with decent wages, a move that allowed them to cater for their dependents (Shi and George 845). Roosevelt had managed to convince the nation that these projects were good for the present and future generations. Over the period of his presidency, hundreds of thousands of highways, parks, libraries, theaters, and other amenities were constructed, in a bid to create opportunities.

The job creation solved multiple problems at the same time. The first and obvious one was unemployment itself. In 1933, the year Roosevelt came into office, and at the height of the depression, unemployment stood at 25% (Shi and George 845). With the introduction of the New Deal, the figure went down steadily to below 15% in 1937. However, attempts to balance the budget led to the recession of 1938, which drove up unemployment to 19%. After that, it slid back to single digits after America joined the war fully. The second achievement of the employment creation strategy was increased morale and trust in government policies. The third positive effect with this strategy was the resultant development in infrastructure on a national scale. Through increased government expenditure on infrastructure, the New Deal was able to tackle three of the problems caused by the Depression at the same time.

Additionally, the New Deal was able to stabilize the financial markets. Margin loans and reckless stock speculation in the midst of a slowing economy were the leading causes of the Great Depression (Shi and George 844). Therefore, it was crucial that the New Deal be able to bring stability to the financial markets. Luckily for Roosevelt, Congress transferred most of their powers to his office to allow him to make quick decisions that salvaged the economy. Through the suspension of bank activities early on in his term, Roosevelt managed to halt the string of bank runs that had threatened to sink the economy. The New Deal gave the federal government the responsibility of managing the economy. This paved the way for the modification and expansion of the Social Security system, which helped the destitute and underprivileged get back on their feet (Shi and George 378).

However, the main weakness of the New Deal was that it relied on government spending. In 1937, President Roosevelt withdrew some of the excessive spendings to observe what would happen. The economy immediately slumped almost to near depression levels. It was evidence of just how reliant the New Deal was on government money ("FDR's First Fireside Chat: on the Banking Crisis" n. p). It was not until wartime that the economy recovered enough to allow it to stand on its own. In addition to that, the New Deal failed to offer African Americans, women, and immigrants the same opportunities it offered white men. President Roosevelt was not particularly interested in women or civil rights. This further marginalized the minority communities, who were also feeling the brunt of the depression.

In conclusion, it is clear that through his leadership skills, bold employment policies, and drastic financial strategies, Roosevelt was able to ensure the New Deal worked for the American people. The strategy was crucial in stabilizing the economy. Even though it may not have managed to end depression as was targeted, it helped the nation from slipping deeper into the economic abyss. However, the plan would only be sustained through government spending,

Works Cited

"FDR's First Fireside Chat: on the Banking Crisis." Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.

Shi, David E, and George Brown Tindal. America: The Essential Learning Edition (Vol. 2) 1 st Edition. WW Norton & Company, 2015.

"Letters to Eleanor Roosevelt"

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