The Depression Decade.
In the United States the greatest legacy of the years 1930-1939 was the creation of the modern bureaucratic welfare state, which arose in response to the worst economic collapse in national history. Unlike other economic crises, the Great Depression was not short-lived. It persisted throughout the 1930s, affecting all aspects of society. The critical political controversy of the decade focused on how government ought to be used to bring the Depression to an end. Every political quarter proposed solutions. In the desperate times of severe economic crisis patience often grew thin, and debates became strident. The major political contest took place between Republicans and Democrats. Together these parties consistently drew about 97 percent of ballots cast, and the debate over how to end the Depression was generally carried out on ideological terrain defined by individuals and groups within them. Yet other groups—with a broad spectrum of alternative political visions—also influenced the debate and sometimes policy. On the political Left were small numbers of socialists, communists, and anarcho-syndicalists; and on what is sometimes called the "far Right" there were tiny groups of American fascists and Nazi sympathizers. The severity of the Depression and the immediacy of the need to bring the nation back to prosperity galvanized politics in the 1930s. Still, the...
(The entire section is 1347 words.)
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