Monday, April 23, 2012

FDR's Alphabet Soup

FDR, Franklin D. Roosevelt, believed that “governments ought to care for citizens in crisis- ‘not as a matter of charity but as a matter of social duty” (Bolden 5) and this is greatly emphasized in FDR’s Alphabet Soup written by Tonya Bolden, who collects pieces from other writers, interviews, and photos to depict life in New Deal America. This book is set from the years of 1932 to 1939, prior to WWII and focuses on showing how FDR was a progressive leader who sought for “radical experimentation” in times of crisis.

The book titles itself as FDR's Alphabet Soup as a commentary to critics who were against the New Deal and its creation of the “Welfare State” where the government has control over the well being of the people. It is called an Alphabet Soup because of the many New Deal reforms and Acts, these including NRA (National Recovery Administration) which sought to strengthen the industrial sector of the economy. FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) was created in order to insure that depositors won’t lose their money to banks.

The four R’s were crucial to defining FDR as a progressive leader of his times. They consisted in his main goals for the nation in order to leave the depression, with the NRA representing recover, fiscal and monetary policies represented reform and reconstruction, and relief because “the primary concern of any government dominated by humane ideas of democracy is the simple principle that in a land of vast resources no one should be permitted to starve” (Bolden 48). The most controversial was the the AFL which promoted labor unions and the Social Security Act in the second New Deal where money was collected from tax payers in order to be given to the elderly and retired.

FDR was categorized as socialist and communist, but above all he left an imprint of culture in New Deal America. He promoted art and theater projects, and gave confidence to the many in doubt with “the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance” (Bolden 23). He was the much needed confidence in times of doubt.

Whether his decisions were considered risky, the conclusion of the New Deal left many to learn from its reforms and its “mistakes.” “Above all, the New Deal gave to countless Americans who had never had much of it a sense of security, and with it a sense of having a stake in their country. And it did it all without shredding the American Constitution or sundering the American people” as David M. Kennedy said in “Freedom from Fear” in 1999. In my opinion, this calls for the New Deal as a success in times of struggle only because it returned back faith in the American government. This is important for the young adult generation because it leaves us with a duty to reform and change the laws and policies around us, which affect us and our relevant in our existence and life.

No comments: