In yesterday’s WaPo, George F. Will assesses FDR’s domestic legacy, “Declaration of Dependence.”
It’s not a pretty tale: “The war, not the New Deal, defeated the Depression. Franklin Roosevelt’s success was in altering the practice of American politics.
This transformation was actually assisted by the misguided policies — including government-created uncertainties that paralyzed investors — that prolonged the Depression. This seemed to validate the notion that the crisis was permanent, so government must be forever hyperactive.”
In a previous issue of Religion & Liberty, Prof. Steven Gillen writes that FDR helped to
redefine freedom and liberalism in America. In speeches throughout the 1930s the president declared, ‘I am not for a return of that definition of liberty under which for many years a free people were being gradually regimented into the service of a privileged few’ and called for a ‘second bill of rights’ that included governmentally-guaranteed rights to remunerative jobs, decent homes, and adequate health care. Not surprisingly, FDR’s neo-liberal justification of his ‘New Deal’ expansion of the economic role of the federal government enormously appealed to the heavily poor Catholic base of his Democratic Party during the Great Depression and still dominates much of the ‘liberal’ thinking with respect to liberty, rights, and the role of government in America today.
Acton research fellow Kevin Schmiesing also discusses the history and legacy of the New Deal in his book, Within the Market Strife: American Catholic Economic Thought from Rerum Novarum to Vatican II.
A review of Schmiesing’s book by Thomas E. Woods notes of Schmiesing’s reappraisal of Catholics and the New Deal, “Schmiesing has made an important contribution because he reminds us that a great many considerations, including the dangers posed by political centralization and broad construction of the Constitution, may inform the Catholic conscience on economic matters.”