It is 1936. The Depression rages. Unemployment is at 16.9%, the lowest it has been since 1931. Government spending (expenditures and investments) is at $13.1 billion (2012 numbers).
The Republican party has just nominated Alfred Landon to run against the immensely popular Franklin D. Roosevelt. Despite what Literary Digest says (they predicted a Landon victory based on a “voluntary” poll of their readers who are primarily Republicans), FDR is a shoe in for another term.
Roosevelt has taken to the airwaves to promote his successes, namely the CCC, PWA, and AAA. Americans are happy to get a paycheck, no matter where the money is coming from. The press has chosen to not run negative ads about either candidate, and is even concealing FDR’s early bout with polio and his two affairs: one with Lucy Mercer–his wife’s personal assistant–that had begun in 1916, and another with Missy LeHand, his personal secretary.
Despite these possible taints to his presidency, the Republican Party chose, instead, to focus on the New Deal. Though many Republicans found it hard to deny that a number of the relief programs created by the President were helping, they still focused on the programs as ineffective and overly costly to the United States. They also cast their views abroad. Looking at the programs coming into prominence in Germany and Italy, the Republicans saw distinct similarities. The Hitler Youth and their road, bridge, and park building campaigns echoed too closely to the CCC. Landon would champion the cry that Roosevelt was moving America into a Socialist Dictatorship.
Of course, we all know that FDR would win, and would win the presidency two more times. We also know that FDR’s plans were differentiated into three groups: Relief [short-term jobs to get people back on their feet, i.e. CCC], Recovery [temporary programs designed to pump the economy as a whole, i.e. AAA], and Reform [long-term programs that were meant to ensure the Depression would never happen again, i.e. FDIC]. And we also know that FDR did not intend to maintain massive government spending… see Roosevelt Recession, causes.
I just find it very funny that no matter how much things change, there are always similarities in our current world.
Here’s to the Republicans who continue to call the President a Socialist Dictator, but can offer little in the ways to improve the economy. Here’s to the Democrats for continuing to insist in putting forth a government spending program that will continue to inflate the deficit despite the “advice” of the man who started it all.