The New Deal
The Real Reason for FDR’s Popularity
All presidents worry about their popularity. They try to bolster it through impassioned rhetoric, free stuff for influential voting blocs, new programs that cost billions, dramatic photo ops, and of course wars to unite the country behind their valiant leadership. In most all cases, they choose means of gaining popularity that come at the expense of liberty.
But what if a president took a different direction and sought popularity by expanding rather than reducing liberty? There is a model here they could follow but it is not one you have thought of.
It is Franklin D. Roosevelt. In his first 30 days, he did more to bring liberty to Americans than any president since Thomas Jefferson repealed the Alien and Sedition Acts.
Roosevelt was inaugurated on March 4, 1933. After dealing with the banking crisis and the budget during his first week on the job, on March 13 he called on Congress to repeal Prohibition. On March 23, he signed the Cullen-Harrison Act, which legalized the sale in the United States of beer with an alcohol content of 3.2 percent.
He wasted no time: he signed it one day after Congress passed it. He said with great élan, “I think this would be a good time for a beer.”
Only then, on March 16, did FDR begin to work on his New Deal agenda. Then he had the wind at his back. It was a dramatic beginning to the end of one of the greatest legal calamities in American history: the hated Prohibition embodied in the 18th Amendment, which had been in effect for 13 violent years.
But not because of the reasons you may believe
Many supporters of free and open markets have for years sounded the alarm about the impending doom and inevitable collapse of the financial markets due to the fiscal and monetary policies beign pursued by the Congress, the White House, and most importantly the Federal Reserve.
On the other hand, many similarly minded individuals rode the wave of capitalism on its way up, while ignoring the unsound basis for which the wave was formed. It is the latter that gives anti-freedom interests of all types the ammunition they need to spread the false assertion that lack of regulation on private industry is the root cause of this credit crisis.