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Reception of The New Deal
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Reception of The New Deal
The 1932 election was a re-alignment election. The Democratic Party, with the New Deal, became a liberal party, supported by big city political machines, labor unions and blue collar workers, ethnic minorities, farmers, White Southerners, the impoverished, and intellectuals. This coalition was so powerful that the Democrats won the White House seven out of nine elections from 1932 to 1968, as well as control of both houses of Congress during all but 4 years between the years 1932-1980 (Republicans won small majorities in 1946 and 1952). Starting in the 1930s, the term “liberal” was used in U.S. politics to indicate supporters of the coalition, while "conservative" denoted its opponents (including conservative Democrats).

Republicans and Democrats were both split on the New Deal. Conservative Democrats & Republican opposed it as an enemy of business and economic growth, but more moderate Republicans supported some of it (while promising to improve it). In the 1934 midterm elections, Democrats gained an additional 9 seats in the Senate, and 9 seats in the House. Republicans also lost seats to the Progressive Party, a liberal party allied with the Democrats.
"Planned Economy or Planned Destruction?"
"Planned Economy or Planned Destruction?", Chicago Tribune, April 21, 1934, by Orr
 
Anti-New Deal Demagogues
Father Charles Coughlin
Father Charles Coughlin
Father Charles Coughlin
Despite the willingness of the American people to support the New Deal, unemployment persisted, and a small number of demagogues gained notable followings. Among these was Father Charles Coughlin, an enigmatic radio priest from Royal Oak, Michigan. Coughlin began broadcasting in 1926. In January 1930 he began to deliver a more political message, attacking socialism and communism. He was one of the first political leaders to use radio to reach a mass audience, as more than thirty million tuned to his weekly broadcasts during the 1930s. Historian Alan Brinkley stated that, by 1934, Coughlin was receiving more than 10,000 letters every day, and that his clerical staff at times numbered more than a hundred. Father Coughlin also published a weekly newsletter called "Social Justice," with themes that echoed his radio broadcasts. Coughlin began as a supporter of the New Deal, but by 1934 was a vocal critic.
As Coughlin turned into a bitter opponent of the New Deal, his radio talks escalated in vehemence against Roosevelt, capitalists and "Jewish conspirators". To Coughlin, Wall Street and communism were twin faces of evil. As fascism gained ground in Europe, Coughlin became a supporter. The Vatican finally forced him off the air in 1940.

Sample Broadcasts:
sound Radio Address Supporting President Roosevelt, 11/ 27/33
sound Address on the Coining of Money, c.1936
sound Radio Address Criticizing the New Deal, 4/11/37
sound Radio Program, "Relief Which Fails to Relieve," 4/11/37 (full 30 min program)
Social Justice, 12/5/38
Social Justice, 12/5/38
 
Senator Huey Long (D-LA)
Senator Huey Long (D-LA)
Senator Huey Long (D-LA)
Huey Long was the Governor of Louisiana from 1928-1932, and a U.S. Senator from 1932-1935. A Democrat, he was noted for his extreme leftist policies. Long came to power in Louisiana with a populist message that criticized the utilities industry, corporate privilege, and which depicted the wealthy as parasites who grabbed more than their fair share of the wealth while marginalizing the poor (which in Louisiana was about 60% of the population). Long defeated the old coalition of wealthy businessmen by winning over the hearts and minds of the farmers and other "small people". During his tenure as governor, Long dramatically improved the infrastructure of the state and the status of the poor through aggressive social programs. He survived an impeachment attempt in 1929, and retaliated with a ruthless consolidation of power. Nothing in Louisiana happened without his approval. Long was elected U.S. Senator in 1932.
As a candidate, he supported Franklin Roosevelt for the presidency. Long split with Roosevelt in June 1933 and planned to mount his own presidential bid for 1936. Long created the Share Our Wealth program in 1934 with the motto "Every Man a King". He proposed redistributing the wealth by taxing corporations and wealthy individuals and using the money to fight poverty and homelessness. In March 1933, Long offered a series of bills collectively known as "the Long plan" for the redistribution of wealth. The first bill proposed a new progressive tax code designed to cap personal fortunes at $100 million. Fortunes above $1 million would be taxed at 1 percent; fortunes above $2 million would be taxed at 2 percent, and so forth, up to a 100 percent tax on fortunes greater than $100
Share Our Wealth button
Share Our Wealth button
Huey Long Shooting Newspaper
Huey Long Shooting Newspapers September 9-12, 1935 (3 images)
million. The second bill limited annual income to $1 million, and the third bill capped individual inheritances at $5 million. Denying that his program was socialist, Long stated that his ideological inspiration for the plan came not from Karl Marx but from the Bible and the Declaration of Independence. "Communism? Hell no!" he said, "This plan is the only defense this country's got against communism." By 1935, Long's society had over 7.5 million members in 27,000 clubs across the country. Long's Senate office received an average of 60,000 letters a week. Long had his own private police force, and President Roosevelt privately said of him that "he was one of the...most dangerous men in America." Some historians believe that pressure from Long and his organization contributed to Roosevelt's "turn to the left" in 1935. Some believe he posed a real threat to American democracy. Long was assassinated on September 8, 1935, in Baton Rouge.
 
Sample Huey Long Speeches:
sound Address to Congressional Interns, 12/11/34  
sound Radio Address, 3/7/35  
   
The Technocrats' Magazine, 1933 (complete)
The Technocrats' Magazine, 1933 (complete)
Technocracy: An Alternative to Capitalism
As radical as the New Deal was to some Americans, the economic situation during the Great Depression was dire enough to spawn even more radical ideas. There were advocates for socialism, communism, fascism; and in 1933 a progressive engineering movement was founded by Howard Scott and Walter Rautenstrauch, centered at Columbia University School of Engineering. Technocracy was a progressive engineering movement that wanted to do away with the capitalist price system in favor of one that used an energy theory of value. Scott argued that energy certificates equal to the amount of power available for production should be issued to each citizen, who would then be required to spend them in the free market. Saving energy would be discouraged in the belief that it created an undesirable imbalance between production and consumption. They published a magazine in 1933, a complete scan of which is available here.
 
Anti-New Deal Imagery
1) An anti-New Dealer might wear this button to express his belief that the New Deal was garbage. This criticism likely came from the political right.

2) To some, the numerous agencies created by the New Deal, each with its own acronym, was a bewildering alphabet soup. This board game expresses the opinion with sarcasm.

3) FDR resorts to the one magic trick which has never failed him--spending.
New Deal Waste Basket Button
New Deal Waste Basket Button
Federal Alphabet Game
Anti-New Deal Federal Alphabet Game
Cartoon: Old Reliable, c. 1935
Cartoon: Old Reliable, c. 1935
 
FDR's Propaganda
Children's educational book: The Fighting President (1934)
Pro-FDR Children's educational book: The Fighting President (1934)
President Roosevelt's main tool for getting out his message to the American people was radio. As has been discussed in the New Deal section, Roosevelt's "fireside chats" have become legendary. Most of the time, these chats were used to speak directly to the American people about a specific subject, especially early in his first term when economic conditions were so dire. Occasionally, however, the President used the forum for a broader purpose.

Five weeks before the 1934 midterm elections, President Roosevelt gave a fireside chat on the industrial situation. His singular focus was his philosophy about the relationship between capital, labor, and government in a free society. Roosevelt was eager to point out the gains made by labor and management because of the New Deal. But he also chided both for not taking full advantage of the opportunities he felt had been provided by the NRA. Roosevelt was beginning to move further to the left, in part as a reaction to those like Huey Long, or the novelist Upton Sinclair, who complained about that the New Deal was too timid.
Roosevelt also put forth his opinion that some happy ground between socialism and laissez-faire capitalism must be found; a broader definition of liberty. Victor Records published an excerpt of this speech to make it more readily available to the public.
sound Radio Address On the Broader Definition of Liberty, 9/30/34 (also called, "On Moving Forward to Greater Freedom and Greater Security")
sound Radio Address to Young Democratic Clubs of America, 8/24/35
 
New Deal Supporters
Will Rogers
Comedian Will Rogers
Comedian Will Rogers identified as a Democrat and was a supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Among his many activities, Rogers hosted a radio show sponsored by the Gulf Oil Company from 1930-1935. Rogers often used the show to express political viewpoints. Below are excerpts from some of these shows, dubbed from transcriptions made in 1951 for syndicated rebroadcast by the American Broadcasting Company.
sound "Taxes and Communism" (1935) sound "The Farm Plan" (c.1935)
sound "Honored by Congress" (1935) sound "Great Lottery" by Will Rogers (c. 1935)
sound "Burying Civilization" (c.1935) sound "Trip To Russia" by Will Rogers (1935)
sound "Inheritance Tax" (1935)  
   
   
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