Today the United States of America is on the eve of the presidential elections, and it is the right time to assess what the country was in in the last few years. It has been and still is a hard time for the economy, as it is wrecked by the Great Depression. We can observe it in all areas: high rate of unemployment, farmers are in crisis, industrial production at a low ebb, ordinary people feel lost and insecure about their future. In this situation, it appears to be essential to present two competing visions on the United States’ future: the Republican incumbent Herbert Hoover and the Democratic challenger Franklin D. Roosevelt. In this article, two different attitudes concerning the government’s role and responsibilities in addressing this devastating economic depression will be presented.
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Outlook and Attitude
The stock market crash marked the beginning of the Great Depression. However, it is only one reason among many that caused the economic failure. Other factors include Hawley-Smoot Tariff, industrial overproduction, unsettled banking system, and continuing collapse in farm prices. Hawley Smoot Tariff (raised tariffs to 60 percent), which was introduced in 1930, resulted in high rates on US-made goods and a decline in international trade.
When Herbert Hoover took office in 1929, he stated that a large and activist federal government is a danger to America’s prosperity. He demonstrated his belief in an individual’s central position and his essential role in the country’s future. Moreover, he judged large corporations that often act in their selfish interests. His philosophical view on limited government intervention reflected his initial rejection to support banks and businesses and called for their volunteerism. The same applied to farmers, as Hoover rejected the idea of federal government subsidies to farmers who suffer from overproduction.
Hoover sees the current economic situation as a period of shocks. In his speech for Republican National Convention (August 11, 1932), he mentions that the last three years have been a time of suffering and hardship for the United States. He states that the crisis is the normal penalty for optimism from overproduction, advances in science, and progress, preceding economic depression. Moreover, he explains that the USA is a part of the world economy that experiences hard times, blaming European countries, as they could not sustain the difficulties of the economic crisis. The Democratic challenger, Franklin D. Roosevelt, offers the exact opposite idea to Hoover’s – the central government could and, in some cases, should vastly intervene in the country’s economy. This philosophy is reflected in the measures he proposes: bank deposit insurance, minimum wage, unemployment compensation, subsidies for farmers, and public housing. Besides, he supports the idea of business and stock market regulations.
Roosevelt sees the current economic situation as the crash mentioning it in his speech addressing accepting the Presidential Nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago (July 02, 1932). He blames the incumbent government for strategic mistakes they have made. They could not see tight connections between industry, agriculture, and small investors and depositors. The failure to take into account this relationship led to an economic issue that united all segments of the population and all spheres.
Philosophy and Audience
The Republican incumbent Herbert Hoover shares the philosophy of limited governmental intervention. He believes that freedom for the individual, equality of opportunity, absence of direct relief to citizens, volunteerism from cooperative communities, and ordered liberty are the basis of the United States of America. His central idea concerning the federal, state, and local governments is the self-restriction of the federal government. Hoover finds it essential, as it allows state and local governments to strengthen their roles in solving emerging problems. These ideas Hoover presented in a radio address on Lincoln’s birthday (February 12, 1931). Besides, it should be said that Hoover is seeking approval from a conservative audience by stating that passing the crisis should take place with the same leadership of the country.
The Democratic challenger Franklin Roosevelt offers a radically different view on the role of government. He believes in an activist position of the Federal government to provide help for citizens when needed. Federal aid is especially important for people in need. In his speech to address accepting the Presidential Nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago (July 02, 1932), he mentions that the Federal Government is responsible for leadership and global help. However, local authorities are fully responsible for the relief and support of people. Roosevelt directs his campaign toward people who do not believe in the incumbent Hoover and seek global economic and social changes.
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Hoover offers to approach economic depression through a community-based approach. In his Presidential Nomination Address (August 11, 1932), he encourages businesses to refuse cutting production or to lay off workers. Besides, Hoover asks Congress to increase funding on works projects and for banks. Furthermore, he suggests farmers cooperate and raise prices voluntarily. It is essential to mention that Hoover is against spending a large amount of federal money, as it increases the public debt. Overall, he widely encourages voluntarism as a measure to facilitate the economic and social crisis.
In a series of programs, called “The New Deal,” Franklin Roosevelt offers a fundamentally different strategy for overcoming the crisis. It is based on the Federal Government’s authority and power that aim at stabilizing the economic situation. For instance, Roosevelt proposes to create a safety net for vulnerable populations: older adults, unemployed, and disabled. Moreover, he offers to establish a different kind of agencies in order to provide governmental aid and jobs. His general idea is a government-regulated economy that will balance conflicting interests and help to overcome crises.
Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the speech accepting the Democratic nomination for the Presidency, and he immediately gave thousands of Americans hope for soon relief. His tone was straightforward, honest, and sincere as he spoke out what many ordinary people have had in mind for an extended period. We all feel it the same way: it is an emergency. It is finally the time when we should unite and forget about individualism. It is the time when we need and should rely on governmental help and support. And yet, it is the time to correct the past mistakes made during Hoover’s Presidency. “The New Deal” program appears to be clear and reasonable, as it offers the new philosophy of a government-regulated economy with a number of measures that could have supported different segments of the population and combated unemployment. For the three years, the situation has worsened significantly, and all people feel it, as it touched each of us. If the old measure does not work, we should adopt a new one.