There were several reasons why some Americans opposed the ‘New Deal’ but it wasn’t only because these people were rich. Some Americans thought the ‘New Deal’ did too much but some thought it did too little.
Roosevelt’s main left wing opposition was Huey Long. Huey Long was a Democrat and he started his political career in 1928 when he became Governor of Louisiana. When the Depression hit Louisiana he spent public money to build hospitals, schools etc. his slogan was, “Every man a king, but no man wears a crown.” In Long’s speeches, he criticised Roosevelt by saying that Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ did too little. Instead Long came up with an alternative to the ‘New Deal’. It was known as ‘Share Our Wealth’. He said if he were to become President then he would take $3 million from the rich people and then give every family $4000- 5000. Then he would introduce national minimum wage, old age pensions and house for war veterans.
Another opponent to Roosevelt was Frances Townsend who was a retired doctor from California. He wanted $200 a month given to every citizen over sixty. This gained a lot of support for him, as 10 percent of all Californians were pensioners. Frances Townsend then Father Charles Coughlin who was a Roman Catholic priest, he ran the National Union for social Justice. This aimed to provide work and fair wages. Coughlin said that Roosevelt was ‘anti- god’ and then decided to stand for the 1936 elections.
While these three politicians criticised Roosevelt for not doing enough, there were more critics who said that he intervened too much in the lives of Americans.
Firstly, business owner s said that Roosevelt was doing too much because of his new industrial law .the laws gave more power to the workers because these laws meant that the owners had to improve working conditions and give better pay and fewer hours for them to work. This quote is taken from the Time Magazine 1937.
“When the organisers needed dough, I closed up the plants for the CIO. I ruined health. And I put screws on the rich man’s wealth.”
Secondly, the rich also thought that Roosevelt was doing too much because they thought he was taking their money and giving it to the poor. The rich thought that Roosevelt was wasting taxpayers’ money. Many of the rich hated Roosevelt because he was taking what they had worked for. Their opinions expressed in magazines read by the rich.
“As a social and economic class we, who have lived or tried to live in any part on money saved, are being liquidated.”
Harpers Magazine 1935
“…members of the so-called upper- class frankly hate Franklin Roosevelt”
Time Magazine 1936
The opposition also thought that Roosevelt was doing too much because they thought it was morally wrong to destroy crops when the other Americans were starving. Similarly, they felt it was morally wrong to pay dole money because it encouraged dependency and discouraged the ‘rugged individualism’ on which the Americans Dream was supposed to be based.
Republicans thought that the New Deal was dangerous. This was because they thought that Roosevelt had too many laws that controlled everything and too much personal power that it was like living in a communist country with no democracy, e.g. Russia. This is what some people thought of Roosevelt and his New Deal.
“…if Roosevelt was not stopped. America would end up with a socialist or communist system where the government owns and runs all businesses… The New Deal candidate has been leading us towards Moscow.
Frank Knox (Republican)
“FDR didn’t realise that once you created a bureaucracy (lots of government officials), it took on a life of its own. It was almost impossible to close down a bureaucracy once it had been created.”
Ronald Regan, an American Life 1990
Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ provoked opposition’s intervention to the issue of states’ rights. There were two sorts of governments. One was Federal government and the other was State Government. The federal government made the laws and the decisions, which were for the whole country but the state government who also had a lot of power made their own laws for their own state; this meant they had hardly and intervention from the Federal Government. Now because of Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’, the states thought that the Federal Government was trying to take over by making too many laws, laws that were supposed to be made by the states. The campaigners for the ‘States Rights’ showed anger by objecting to the schemes like the TVA and other alphabet agencies.
Some of Roosevelt’s oppositions also came from the Supreme Court. In 1935- 36, the nine judges that were appointed for life decided that several of Roosevelt’s
‘New Deal’ laws were illegal and broke the constitution (unconstitutional). This proved that he was trying to do so much that his laws were breaking the constitution.
The right wing also said that Roosevelt was doing too much when Eleanor Roosevelt spoke out for the poor and unemployed. They said that she should only remain at her husband’s side and not take part in any political affairs, for example make speeches etc. because it was not her job.
Critics from the right (not only the rich) opposed the ‘New Deal’ because they thought it was doing too much. The opposition was therefore quite diverse, with different political opinions and economic interests represented. The rich were prominent and vocal, but they were not really Roosevelt’s only opponents.