The 1930s and the 1960s were both decades of serious change in the US. Compare and contrast the two decades in terms the changes that went on.

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The 1960s are more commonly compared with the 1920s, but there are some comparisons to the 1930s that can be drawn.

The major similarity is that both of these decades were times of increasing government involvement in the economy.  In both decades, the Democratic Party was fairly strong.   In the 1930s there was, of course, the New Deal.  These programs inserted the government into economic life in unprecedented ways.  In the 1960s, President Johnson declared the “War on Poverty” and his desire to build a “Great Society.”  These initiatives built on the New Deal and got government even more involved in the economy. 

The similarities largely end there, however.  The New Deal came about because of desperation.  By contrast, Johnson’s initiatives came about because of widespread prosperity.  This is a major difference.

The 1930s were a time when the United States was isolationist.  It had been through World War I and did not want to get involved in another war.  Therefore, the US did not do much internationally in this decade.  By contrast, the 1960s was a time of intense US involvement in foreign affairs.  This was the decade of the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Vietnam War.

The 1960s were a time of major social ferment.  The Civil Rights Movement and the counterculture/anti-war movement made this a very unsettled time socially.  Of course, the 1930s were unsettled, but they were unsettled in a completely different way.  The 1930s was a time when people were having to adapt to the Great Depression.  They had social change forced on them whereas the social change of the 1960s came about voluntarily.

Thus, these decades have a little in common, but not a great deal. 

pholland14 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

During both periods the Democratic Party was quite strong.  There were also social tensions—in the 1930s, these were caused by the Great Depression, and in the 1960s, they were caused by the civil rights marches.  Domestically, the 1930s saw the rise of the New Deal, which was an attempt to alleviate the twenty-five percent unemployment rate Americans faced during the Great Depression.  In the 1960s, Lyndon Johnson, a follower of Franklin Roosevelt, rolled out his own Great Society programs which were supposed to help the poor through programs like subsidized housing and Medicaid.  Roosevelt ran into a Supreme Court which questioned the constitutionality of his programs, while Johnson's anti-poverty efforts were ended largely by the Vietnam War.  

The United States did undergo protests during the 1930s concerning the rampant poverty in the nation—one of the more famous protests was carried out by the Bonus Marchers.  The government's response to the veterans' requests for help assisted in ending Herbert Hoover's political career.  The Democratic Party was slow to help the civil rights marchers in the 1960s for fear of losing their Southern political base, but after the protests were televised, they soon reversed course by passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Other than the consistent fact of decades of Democratic Party dominance at the federal level, there are not many good comparisons here.