Handling the Great DepressionHoover and Roosevelt had very different ideas on how the Depression should be handled. This was almost entirely a result of two important differences in their schemas; Hoover was a Republican and considered conservative, and had basically worked his way through life, while Roosevelt was not only a Democrat, he had basically been born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth. Roosevelt was considered a liberal.
As one can easily see, in many ways these two are complete opposites; in fact, if one looks at both their upbringing and their political affiliation, it seems that Roosevelt’s and Hoover’s policies must have been different in a great many ways. Hoover was brought up in a poor family, and worked almost his entire life. When he was eight years old, his parents died so he went to live with his uncle. His uncle worked with him, and later became rich.
Hoover had endured a great many hardships in his life, and knew what it was like to do without. In fact, Hoover was very poor as a child, although not necessarily living in poverty. This effect on his schema would be rather interesting, as it seems that he should have had a better understanding of how to handle problems with the poor than Roosevelt. As Hoover was born poor, one would think that he would know how to run the country like a business, so that it would stay afloat; however, when confronted with the Depression, he repeatedly cut taxes.
Hoover was basically a hard working Republican, the quintessential self made man. Roosevelt, on the other hand, had been born into a very rich family; He grew up with education at Harvard, had his own pony and sailboat, and had everything basically taken care of for him in his childhood by his mother. This gave him a sense of security, of being able to do anything he wanted, most simply because he didn’t fail early on. He had never lived through what the American public was going through, so his view of the world, his schema, did not necessarily include what it was like to live in poverty. He believed that the Depression could be solved merely by putting as many people to work for the government as possible.
This could relate to how, growing up, he himself did not have to work in any way, shape, or form. Roosevelt did have one other perspective that would always be unavailable to Hoover; he was a cripple. He had contracted polio on 1921; by the time he became governor of New York in 1928, he could not walk unaided. He refused to let this stop him, though, and remained a suave speaker, unlike his competitor Hoover.
Political affiliation is also one of the most necessary differences to realize in contrasting Hoover and Roosevelt. Hoover’s policies, when viewed form the modern perspective, seem rather strange. One of his major efforts appears to have been lowering taxes; he basically expressed faith in the existent American system. He called leaders of industry to Washington D.C.
and made them promise to keep up wages and such, but when they did not he worked with local welfare agencies. He basically refused to give out any national welfare, believing that it demeaned proud Americans. While he attempted much to help businesses, it was clear by 1932 that his policies were a complete failure. Even when the Democrats had control of the congress after 1930, he still stubbornly refused to take stronger action.
Throughout this time, the bank failures had been steadily going up. His lowest point in popularity was when a group of veterans camped in D.C. demanding a bonus that they were due. Hoover ordered them removed. Yet even through all of this, he still insisted that the American public did not honestly want national relief. Basically, Roosevelt could have no better campaign than Hoover’s presidency.
Roosevelt’s philosophy, on the other hand, was entirely different. His most readily apparent ability was his voice; he was able to talk to people in such a way that they almost always went along with him. He was exceptionally confident, and made those around him feel so too. Roosevelt did not tend to deal with underlying problems; he was, however, wonderful at taking care of the surface problem. On his inauguration day, he gave his famous speech asserting that the only thing America had to fear was fear itself; not entirely true, because the nation stood on the brink of collapse. The banks in Chicago and New York were closed.
Within ten days, Roosevelt had them back open. Throughout the next few years, Roosevelt’s general policy was to make work for anyone and everyone who was idle; it didn’t matter if the work was pointless, and didn’t really need to be done. Roosevelt simply took the men of the nation and put them to work at whatever he could think of for them to do. The job really didn’t matter; the only reason it was there was to keep the public happy. It is questionable how much these work projects actually helped America to come out of the Depression; in fact, most believe that only World War II saved America’s economy. Regardless, the American spirit was once again uplifted, and even if the Depression hadn’t gone away the American public once again felt as though they were the best country in the world.
Hoover and Roosevelt had a variety of differences, both in their background and in their political ideas. Hoover had been born poor, and had worked his way up to a higher station in life (partially with the help of an uncle who came into money). Roosevelt’s family, though, possessed basically old wealth. He had whatever he wanted as a child.
As far as their political views, Hoover favored a local end to the Depression, basically not believing that the central American government could accomplish what was necessary. Roosevelt, on the other hand, understood as Robert Wiebe did, that the time for island communities was over, and it was necessary for the central power in the country to lend a hand.