“Because the unemployment rate in 1939 averaged about what it had been in 1931, some economists argue that the New Deal had failed to both put people back to work and to enhance private investment. However, others argue forcefully that the appeal and success of the New Deal had less to do with economics than with the expansion of political power by the central government. Still others argue that the New Deal was really about hope, and that Roosevelt and his programs helped stabilize the nation. What, then, is the legacy of the New Deal and Franklin Delano Roosevelt? Although the New Deal did not end double-digit unemployment, it did increase the power of the presidency and the central government. Moreover, it changed the focus of the national political debate. The New Deal and Franklin Roosevelt changed the ways that people view the role of the state in American life. The Great Depression forced Americans to wonder whether a system of free market capitalism was capable of bringing both economic growth and economic stability. Whether the Depression was a failure of capitalism or a failure of government policies, the U.S. economy ever since has felt, for better or worse, the guiding hand of government far more than before the nation’s economy collapsed in the early 1930s.” – “The New Deal,” The World War II Desk Reference (Douglas Brinkley and Michael E. Haskew, eds.)

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