The Great Depression and by extent the New Deal forever changed the mindset of Americans. Gone was the mindset of the Classical Economists with their belief in free market practices solving problems on their own, and in was ushered the reign of Keynesian economics. The Keynesian economic thought was that increased government control was the only solution to the problems of the depression. While the Classicals wanted to use a chisel and time to solve the Depression Keynesians believed that only by bringing a hammer and throwing money at the problem would any change occur.
When FDR came to power he immediately began to increase government control over the economy. FDR’s reign was the closest the United States has ever come to becoming a fascist dictatorship. Congress granted FDR so much power through it’s “Delegation of Powers” that Congress had effectively made itself obsolete and had given FDR complete power. In order to accomplish this Congress created government agencies, granted them power, and put FDR in control of them. As well as the War Powers Act which gave FDR increased power during the Second World War. The only remaining check at that point was the Supreme Court.
This concentration of powers is unprecedented in American history and has damaged the way we see Government to this day. Americans continue to see the President as an all-powerful man who can solve problems on his own. This is the direct influence of the legacy of FDR. When Congress refuses to pass legislation, it becomes the President’s fault. When the Government shuts down it becomes incumbent on the President to get things moving again. There is a cult of celebrity surrounding the President that is directly descended from FDR.
We see this today. Democrats, the Party of FDR, increasingly demand more government control and regulation, the Affordable Care Act being an amazing example. They point to the Housing Crisis of 2008 and downturn of the 80s and claim that lax government rules caused these problems. Keynesian economics is alive and well in the modern Democrat party and FDR would be proud.
Then there is the problem of the New Deal itself. When Roosevelt came to power he began his plan to implement the New Deal. The New Deal and the Second New Deal that followed a hundred days later was a series of Government laws and programs that granted increasing power to the Federal Government. For example the National Industrial Recovery Act cut back production and forced wages above the market level. As well as the Agricultural Recovery act which harmed millions for black tenant farmers. All this was justified on the back of the excuse of ending the Depression.
The Courts, however, did attempt to obstruct the implementation of these programs. To stop the Courts from further meddling FDR announced his plan to pack the courts with liberal justices who would go along with what FDR implemented. This granted political ammunition to FDR’s opponents who began to damage his reputation with the public. However, on December 7, 1941 Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and the war effort effectively ended the Great Depression and the need for the New Deal programs.
We continue to live with the legacy of the FDR power grab to this day. When politicians attempt to overstep their delegated powers Americans are, for the most part, all too willing to shrug it off. When a President violates the Constitution and institutes illegal executive orders, so he can skirt around the legislature and pass laws we ignore it. Or when a president accuses the peaceful Tea Party movement of being terrorists we think nothing of it.
We are long overdue for a scaling back of Government power and control. The Keynesian school of thought has had its chance to brute force the economy and it simply does not work. This is why I fight for Conservative values and why I believe in the limitation of Government and expansion of freedom. Because, these things matter, not only for us but for our Children. The policies we institute now will affect our children and our children’s children. Are you happy with the policies you back? Are you convinced they’ll help the later generations? I know I am.