The New Deal

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Explain how President Roosevelt mobilized a New Deal political coalition that included many different segments of the population.

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When Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected in 1932, his most important mandate was to help the United States out of the Great Depression. This included both efforts to improve the economy and the institution of measures that would lessen the depression’s impact on US citizens. President Roosevelt was able to put a program together in a relatively short period by drawing on the strengths of advisers close to him, as well as negotiating deals and compromises with those who had been his opponents. More than anyone, Francis Perkins is considered the architect of the New Deal. She was the first woman ever appointed as U.S. Secretary of Labor.

The group of close advisers known as the Brain Trust included academics and public servants, including those who had experience with similar programs at the state level. Roosevelt placed his trust in their abilities and understood that differences of opinion were necessary if the executive branch was to create a set of policies that he could “sell” to the whole country. Although the advisers often clashed, initially generating reports of feuds and even stalemates, the process generated a wide range of options and helped the president craft the much-needed consensus. The process also supported a flexible approach to policy-making so that the New Deal could implement different strategies as its effect on the economy was felt and in response to uncontrollable natural and global political factors.

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President Roosevelt was able to mobilize support among all of these different segments of the population by giving them things that they needed.  Most importantly, what all of these groups needed was jobs and/or relief.  All of the groups had been hit hard by the Depression.  Roosevelt mobilized them by helping to reduce their problems.  For example, he created the TVA, which brought jobs and things like electric power and flood control to the South.  He supported labor unions, many of whose members were Catholics and Jews in Northern cities.  By doing things like this, Roosevelt gained the support of the various parts of this coalition.

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