The New Dealers

Before Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency, most government administrators had been from high society, wealthy businessmen, or political loyalists. Roosevelt built a team of Ivy League intellectuals and New York social workers. These advisors offered Roosevelt with economic ideas and communication skills.

The New Dealers were strongly influenced by earlier Progressive reformers. They believed that government had a duty to intervene in all aspects of economic life in order to improve the quality of American life. Unlike the Progressives, who were driven by strong moral values, the New Dealers built their policies on pragmatism.

The New Dealers rejected the idea that federal government's responsibilities were limited to balancing the federal budgets and providing for the nation's defense. Yet they disagreed over the best way to end the Depression. They supported three alternative solutions for fixing the national economy. The "trust-busters" wanted aggressive enforcement of anti-trust laws to break-up concentrated business power. The "associationalists" wanted to encourage cooperation among business, labor, and government. The "economic planners" wanted to create a system of centralized national planning.

Roosevelt himself kept a pragmatic attitude: "Take a method and try it," he said, "if it fails admit it frankly and try another. But above all try something."

Source: The New Dealers
Copyright 2021 Digital History

Back to top