What We Learn From FDR's New Deal

Historians in the News
tags: FDR, New Deal, presidential history

Lessons from the New Deal. It wasn’t one big package wrapped in political consensus. We look at the real, messy process that pulled the U.S. out of the Great Depression.


Lizabeth Cohen, professor of American Studies at Harvard University. Author of “Saving America's Cities: Ed Logue and the Struggle to Renew Urban America in the Suburban Age." (@Harvard)

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst. (@JackBeattyNPR)


Do we have the kind of government today that can experiment the way that they did in the earliest years of the New Deal?  

Lizabeth Cohen: "One thing that would have to happen, if we got a president who was of the mindset to experiment. He — looks like it's going to be a he — would have to have a Congress that supported him. Roosevelt had that until the late 1930s, where he met more obstacles when Republicans did better in '38 after that Roosevelt recession. So, you know, a president alone can't do everything. That president needs a supportive Congress. And Roosevelt got what he wanted. And so it really does take the Congress and the executive branch working together to really re-instill that confidence."

Jack Beatty: "An FDR goal, I think, that is still, and newly and even profoundly relevant is what he said to Frances Perkins, his secretary of labor. He said, we are going to make a country in which no one is left out. Well, that is a noble sentiment. And I think it's something that everybody feels needs to happen. ... How many people have felt left out? How many Trump voters felt left out of the national feast? The urban feast? How many minorities are left out? That's a big job. And it's a worthy goal for any president. And that and security. Security, as FDR said, against the hazards and vicissitudes of life. Boy, we know about those today."


Read entire article at WBUR