Monday, April 18, 2011

How FDR got re-elected over and again

As noted here, FDR raised taxes to unprecidented levels, he ordered Americans to sell their gold or face prosecution, he jailed people who spoke out against his policies. He put Japanese Americans in Concentration camps, he threatened businessmen with even higher taxes if they didn't support his programs.

Utterly said, despite what we learn in schools, FDR was a scary President. And many people knew he was scary, and knew his programs were making the economy worse rather than better. Despite this, he kept getting re-elected. How?

I have the answers:
  1. He used the IRS and FBI to prosecute people who did not agree with him, and therefore many Americans were simply too scared to oppose him
  2. Many Americans were afraid if they opposed him they would have their federal relief funds taken away.
  3. Many business men were threatened with higher taxes if they opposed him and he won, and therefore they were threatened to vote for FDR.
  4. FDR pushed up his opposition and therefore the people were unable to learn about the fact FDRs policies were contrary to improving the economy.
  5. He created his programs to buy votes, and used his programs to shut up those who spoke out against him. By doing this, he won re-election three times.
  6. Local political opponents of FDR had to keep quiet lest FDR hunt them down with the IRS or FBI or cut other programs to their liking.
  7. He used subsidies and political capital, money and tools to get re-elected. He was first to buy votes with the very programs he created. So, however, unpopular his programs were, he kept getting re-elected.
  8. He also used political subsidies to punish enemies and reward friends.
  9. Special Interests who lobbied in favor of FDR got special subsidies and were favored for government loans.
  10. FDR used government expenditures to persuade voters. He was the best at doing this.
  11. In 1936 before the Presidential election, FDR added 300,000 to the work relief program (WPA). In the months following the election, 300,000 were removed from the WPA.
  12. Work Relief expenditures increased sharply -- 268% increase from fall of 1935 to the fall of 1936 -- the biggest increase of 3,663% was in Pensylvania, a swing state that Hoover had carried in 1932, and FDR specially targed in 1936.
  13. A plan was in place to make sure the Soil conservation Service checks arrived in Farm households before the election of 1936 to ensure votes for FDR -- 4 farm states were in the balance.
  14. Alf Landon said "If he (FDR) did not have $5 billion (of WPA money to dole out) his election would be very much in doubt.
  15. FDR ran on this issue with signs saying, "Relief for Votes," subtitled "will the American people accept the imputation tht their votes can be bought with reief money." Another leaflet said, "If we don't stop the New Deal the nation will go bankrupt.
  16. Funny thing, Landon tried to win votes by denouncing government programs, but he had to do it without alienating the increasingly large number of voters who had Federal jobs, or hoped to have them. In this sense, republicans couldn't get re-elected even though FDRs programs were unpopular.
  17. Landon hailed before cheering crowd at Madison Square Garden that it was bad to use "public money for political purposes" as FDR was doing. He said, "I am against the principles of the AAA and... the concentration of power in the3 hands of the Chief executive."
  18. Republican problem since 1936 was that they risked offending the 10,000 voters working in federal programs if they hailed for cutting government programs to balance the budget. (this is actually a problem that is ongoing to this day). This is also why many republicans get caught in the trap of increasing government programs to buy votes.
  19. He got people excited about voting who normally don't vote, such as young people and blacks
In a sense, the progressives of Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson and FDR started a slippery slope that resulted in an Obama Presidency with our Trillions of dollars in debt and so many government programs we have to borrow from China to pay for it.
Quite often the Presidency is not won by character alone as it was in the past. Now, once elected, a president can buy votes by creating and doling out subsidies.
Material for the above posts came from the following sources:
1. New Deal or Raw Deal: How FDRs economic policyhas damaged America, by Burton Fulsom Jr.
2. The Forgotten man: The new history of the Great Depression, by Amity Shlaes

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