Athough the New Deal extended help to many Americans, all did not benefit equally from the era’s reforms. Who remained outside the reach of New Deal assistance? Why? In your answer, consider how politics shaped the limits of reform, both in constituents’ ability to demand assistance, and in the federal government’s response to their demands.
The main groups that “remained outside the reach of New Deal assistance” were racial minority groups, particularly African Americans and Mexican Americans. We should be clear that these groups were not completely outside the reach of any assistance. However, they did benefit substantially less from the New Deal programs than did white Americans. For example, the Agricultural Adjustment Act hurt many minorities. They worked as farm workers, but did not actually own farms. When the AAA paid farmers to cut back production, the farm workers lost their jobs. As another example, many Mexican Americans were migrants and therefore did not have the fixed addresses needed to receive help.
Reform was clearly limited by the ability of minority groups to demand aid. This was, of course, a time when the right of racial minorities to vote was severely curtailed, particularly in the South. Because they did not vote, these groups were essentially invisible to politicians. Therefore, they were very limited in their ability to effectively demand assistance.
Furthermore, politics made it difficult for the administration to give aid to minorities even if administration officials wanted to do so. The politics of the time were such that President Roosevelt had to depend heavily on Democratic members of Congress from the South for support. These members of Congress were typically the ones who were most firmly opposed to measures that would help racial minorities. Therefore, the Roosevelt administration could not push for measures that would deliver large amounts of aid to racial minorities.
It is for these reasons that racial minorities largely remained outside the reach of New Deal assistance.