The New Deal represented a shift in how Americans viewed the government. Was this shift permanent?
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It is, of course, impossible to say that any attitude or view is permanent. Racism and racial discrimination, for example, once seemed permanent but were not. That said, the shift that occurred with the New Deal has not disappeared yet. To that extent, then, it has been permanent.
With the coming of the New Deal, people came to see the government as something that should play a much bigger role in their lives. Government had once done very little for the people directly. Now, the government was supposed to insure people’s bank deposits. It was supposed to give people jobs in hard times. It was supposed to ensure that they had pensions in their old age. This was a very new way of looking at government.
This attitude has, if anything, strengthened since the New Deal. We expect the government to do more and more things for us. We expect the government to pay for our medical care when we are old. We expect it to give us tax breaks to encourage us to do various things. We expect it to go so far as to ensure that we know how many calories are in the things we eat. Clearly, we expect the government to do at least as much for us today as during the New Deal. To that extent, the shift has been permanent.
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