The New Deal: A Progressive Revolution?

1471 Words6 Pages
Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency and his ‘New Deal’ programs serve as polarizing and monumental aspects of United States history. As is the case with many topics in history, various scholars and experts continually debate over whether or not the New Deal deserves the amount of credit that many historians have given it. In judging this debate, one must consider whether or not the New Deal actually contributed to ending the Great Depression, whether or not it was inclusive enough to be heralded as a ‘progressive revolution’, and whether it effected the course of history and created a sustainable, fair American economy. In order to make this judgment, one must consider multiple viewpoints of the New Deal and decide which one they feel to be the…show more content…
However, this time, the government sustained its major role as a constant aspect of American life through its implementation of New Deal programs, which created a precedent of government influence and intervention in the economy. However, as Jefferson Cowie explains in his introduction to The Great Exception this period of government involvement only lasted from the 1930s to about the 1970s and was marked by inconsistent progressive gains followed by dips in such progress immediately afterwards. Cowie believes that this time period marked a simple break from the past; it was simply a short detour from the American ways of the time before and after these 40 years, and therefore by no means represented a ‘revolution’ or even a major change in the entire fabric of American life. As Cowie mentions as an example, “the minimum wage, created under the New Deal, follows the same pattern, rising to close to a living wage in the late 1960s before falling well behind the rate of inflation”(Cowie 10). And this is true, in 1968, the minimum wage was equivalent to over $10 in 2012 , and afterwards, it consistently dropped below a level equivalent to the current minimum wage of $7.25. By looking at the ways in which the minimum wage, which served as a key aspect of the New Deal, has…show more content…
As Barton Bernstein focuses on in his piece “The New Deal: The Conservative Achievements of Liberal Reform,” the New Deal left individuals including poor workers of most/all races, nearly all African-Americans and women of all races behind. As Bernstein says of the New Deal, “Its efforts on behalf of humane reform were generally faltering and shallow, of more value to the middle classes, of less value to organized workers, of even less to the marginal men.”(Bernstein 14). And, as previously mentioned, these ‘marginal men’ included various groups of people, all of which sharing a common necessity for government assistance. Despite the often-heralded progressiveness of the New Deal, one cannot dispute that any help that the New Deal did provide them proved insufficient. Bernstein goes on to criticize the New Deal further,
Open Document