The Corner

The New Deal, Ever With Us?

Amity Shlaes, author of The Forgotten Man:  A New History of the Great Depression:

Roosevelt systematized interest-group politics more generally to include many constituencies—labor, senior citizens, farmers, union workers.  The president made groups where only individual citizens or isolated cranks had stood before, ministered to those groups, and was rewarded with votes.  It is no coincidence that the first peace-time year in American history in which federal spending outpaced the total spending of the states and towns was that election year of 1936.

Roosevelt systematized interest-group politics so very thoroughly, indeed, that last night, some seven decades after the institution of the New Deal, the Democratic candidate for president devoted a big part of his acceptance speech to promising pay-offs to labor, senior citizens, farmers, and union workers—the very same constituencies the FDR courted.

Today on Uncommon Knowledge:  Will we ever be able to put the New Deal behind us?

Amity replies.


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