tv [untitled] February 19, 2012 12:00am-12:30am EST
infuential first lady? each week, american history tv sits in on a college lecture with one of the country's college professors. you can watch those classes here every saturday at 8:00 p.m. and midnight eastern and sundays at 11:00 a.m. this week we're back at american university for the second part of history professor allan lichtman's class on franklin roosevelt and his effect on the modern presidency. this is about 70 minutes. >> as soon as everybody gets seated, we'll get going again. obviously, in 1936, fdr is enthusiastically renominated. by the democratic party in a convention that eliminates the -- as we mentioned, the 9 two-thirds rule for nomination and makes nomination a simple majority.
roosevelt's acceptance speech was heard by millions on radio. and it articulated the basic theme of his re-election campaign, which was an affirmation of new deal policy combined with a spirited attack on those he called the quote-unquote economic royalists who sought to concentrate power in their hands by creating an economic tyranny in the united states. these economic royalists, he said, complain that we seek the overthrow of the institutions of america. eir wer.y really complain about how do you think republicans responded to that kind of rhetoric? that's exactly the way the republicans today or yesterday responded to president obama's call for higher taxes on the rich. what do they call it?
class warfare. and roosevelt was not only initiating class warfare but was a traitor to his class. you know, god, you're this upper class guy, and here you want to attack you know, your fellow upper crust americans. roosevelt is a traitor to his class and was being accused of waging open class warfare. but roosevelt knew what he was doing because who defines themselves as economic not 90% of the american people. you're pretty safe attacking the economic royalists since no one really thinks that they fit into that particular category. and republicans had a big problem. they're not only dealing with such a charismatic, politically
brilliant president, but they had trouble with what? >> much worse than the trouble they're having now. finding a candidate. they had been shredded in three consecutive elections. 1930, 1934, 1936. they clung to small minorities in both houses of congress. they were republican governors in about a half dozen states with combined populations less than that of new york state. didn't leave much in the way of presidential timber for the republican party. as one political analyst put it, you can't beat somebody with nobody. and fdr was a very big somebody going into the campaign of 1936. republicans decided they would look west for a candidate. you know, that the future of the party -- and they were right, although not immediately -- lay in the west, not in the east. and they chose this guy.
who is? alf landon. who was he in 1936? anybody else know? >> was he the governor of kansas? >> governor of kansas, the only republican incumbent governor survive the democratic tsunami of 1934. and he was a decent man. i actually met him. guy lived to be 100. i actually, when i was in graduate school, doing my dissertation on the presidential election of 1928, i went out to topeka, kansas, and actually interviewed, i couldn't believe it, i'm actually interviewing the guy who ran against franklin roosevelt. alf landon, a really nice guy. as even his supporters said, he wasn't big enough to be president. you know, he just did not have the kind of stature and abilities, obviously, to compete with fdr. he had a lot of money. republicans actually outspent the democrats in 1936. even with all his popularity, all his power, the business money was still primarily
flowing to republicans. very interesting. a phenomenon that would continue throughout most of american presidential history. barack obama and lyndon johnson were among the few democratic presidents to get more money from the business world than their republican opponents. but even in 1936, everyone knew franklin roosevelt was going to win, and you know, he had so much power and was up against a weak opponent. republicans still got more business dollars. still spent more money. he also had a lot of conservative organizations behind him. a lot of organization building on the part of the right because they so detested roosevelt and so detested his policies. and in fact, it was during this period that you kind of had the forerunner of the modern, all-purpose, nationwide, conservative, independent political organizations. anyone know what that was? it was called -- not a surprising name -- the american liberty league. the american liberty league.
led in part, actually, by disgruntled democrats, by the same group of democrats who had opposed franklin roosevelt for the nomination in 1932. as well as conservative republicans. and it was financed by, actually, mostly by one particular family. not the rockefellers but a family about as rich. the duponts. exactly, it was the dupont brothers who were the big money behind the american liberty league, and it spent about $1 million. peanuts today but very big money for an independent political organization in 1936. although it's the forerunner of modern conservative organizations -- it did not itself survive for not prizing reasons the election of 1936. roosevelt's campaign manager was who? anybody know? very famous name. yeah?
>> no, howe was out of the picture by this time. i think he had died by this time. very, very familiar name to all of you. james farley, the famous politico of the new deal. he made a famous prediction, right? anybody know what his prediction was? most famous prediction in political history. fdr would win every state except? maine and vermont. and guess what? fdr wins every state but maine and vermont. there used to be an old saying because maine voted first. it was an exception to the election laws to let maine go first because of its tradition. and the old saying was -- anybody know the old saying about maine? as goes maine, so goes the nation, that maine was a harbinger. farley changed that to something else after this election. anybody know what that was changed to? as goes maine, so goes vermont.
>> right, as goes maine, so goes vermont, which is exactly what happened in 1936. so an enormous ratification of roosevelt the candidate and roosevelt's policies. so let's stop and take stock. you had all these first new deal programs, followed by the second new deal. you had enormous democratic majorities piling up. you had roosevelt changing the nomination process. what were some of the fundamental ways in which franklin roosevelt, during his first term, changed american politics, changed american policy, and changed the presidency? start anywhere. >> [ inaudible ]. >> very good point. for the first time, really, franklin roosevelt changed people's expectations of government. yes, people before thought, you know, we'll have this overestimation of presidents,
that they could effectively geh. but franklin roosevelt really for the first time cemented in the idea that the president and his administration were responsible for producing a prosperous, growing, and full employment economy. in other words, people now evermore expected their government to be the final guarantor of responsibility for the economy and for jobs and would blame the government when that didn't happen. very important shift in the nature of the relationship between the government and the economy and the expectations of
people of their government. but there was a paradox that lay at the core of these new expectations and continues to haunt american politics to this day. so the american people expect all these things of their government. but what do they also want? pardon? >> no taxes. >> no taxes, limited government. no government pressure on them. self-help. so at the same time, they have these enormous expectations of government, they also, at least rhetorically, expect limited government, low taxes, fiscal responsibility, and a government that doesn't interfere with their daily lives. fundamentally contradictory expectations. so everybody believes in cutting government, having limited government, except for what? what does nobody want, even though they want limited government and government cuwel? >> they don't want cuts in anything that benefits them. there's a wonderful article
either today or yesterday in up with of the newspapers talking about eric captor. anybody know who eric cantor is? who is he? majority leader from virginia. what happened in virginia recently? natural thing. it was an earthquake, right? and the people in his districts are demanding what? to help with the damage and problems from the earthquake. >> money. >> from who? >> the government. >> which government? >> exactly, uncle sam. the government has got to step in and help. here. here is one of the biggest advocates of cutting government spending, limited government. so we are living with this paradox, from the days of roosevelt to today, of people expecting all these things from government, yet at the same time, you know, this core belief in limited government, no taxes, fiscal responsibility. and this also leads to a second point.
not only are people expecting their government to establish prosperity and jobs, but you mentioned they're also expecting their government to do what? >> to provide for their welfare. >> to provide for welfare, exactly. so to provide for the elderly. you know, i don't care how conservative someone on social security and medicare may be, and of course, medicare is a later program, the principle is the same. what's the one thing they will never, ever support cutting? social security and medicare. you know? if you're a farmer, the last thing you'll ever support cutting is farm sub sits. there was a very famous conservative senator from north carolina. anyone know who that was? really mr. conservative. mr. conservative. jesse helms. and what was the one big government program that jesse helm s would always promote and
always support? tobacco subsidies. probably the most pernicious, the worst government program you could possibly imagine, but of course, the tobacco farmers are in north carolina so he is for -- that's one of the reasons you can't cut agricultural subsidies. you have all these senators, many of them conservative from all these states, the last thing they want to see cut is agricultural subsidies. you have not only new responsibilities on the part of the government for general economy, you have new responsibilities on the part of the government for individual and family well-being and welfare. how else does the new deal change politics, policy and the presidency? you've got two big areas. what are some of the other things that the new deal instituted in the way of changes? >> like what social groups made up the support centers for the
political parties. >> very important. you have an utter transformation in the nature of political coalitions in the united states. first of all, the democrats do become by the end of 1936 the majority party in the united states. they hadn't been the majority party in america since when? when was the last time the democrats -- >> [ inaudible ]. >> yeah, before the civil war. you have to go back before the pal y in the united states. this was a huge, critical realignment. when we talked about critical realignments, transformational elections. so now the democrats become the majority party in the united states. and to this day, in a sense, are the majority party. that is, more people identify to this day as democrats than republicans, although that majority is much weaker than it was during the '30s, '40s, '50s and '60s. majority party, but they forge a brand-new coalition under fdr. sometimes known as the roosevelt who are the elements of the roosevelt coalition?
what kind of coalition does roosevelt put together to transform american politics? >> it was like the unofficial african-american cabinet. >> first of all, the african-americans. probably the biggest change is that the democratic coalition brings in african-americans. why is that such a monumental change in american politics? >> because they were the first labor party? >> yes, african-americans up until this time were the most loyal republicans. kind of didn't matter, the republicans were the party of whom? lincoln. the democrats were the party of the copper heads who opposed the civil war and reconstruction. so this was an enormous transformation that begins in 1934, in 1936, and to this day. there has not been a single presidential election in which
african-americans voted other than democratic and really from the '60s on, it's 90%. they're the strongest element today of the democratic coalition, but they were a new element of the democratic coalition that franklin roosevelt put together. that's one element. who else? we've talked about some of them. >> labor. >> labor becomes a very important element, particularly as labor union membership is rising throughout the '30s and into the '40s. labor becomes in many ways the backbone of the democratic party and a lot of the story of the decline of the democratic party in the late 20th and 21st century has to do with the decline of the labor movement. in fact, what's some of the first things some of the new republican state governments did after they came into power after the 2010 election? >> collective bargaining. >> today what is the strongest
element of the labor movement? what types of unions? >> public sector unions. >> that's exactly what they went after. that was that huge controversy in wisconsin. so labor is a second very important component along with african-americans. yeah. >> farmers? >> not so much. i mean, farmers, kind of, are a swing vote. but you couldn't say, he did better among farmers certainly than democrats had done before, but they never became a core element the way blacks and union members were. the south. you have the paradox of the new deal coalition or the roosevelt coalition or the new democratic coalition putting together african-americans and the white south that at this time was still segregated, that had the system of jim crow discrimination against african-americans. but roosevelt was able to keep the south, despite having
african-americans in his coalition, as we talked about, by not doing what? >> come out as being for civil rights. >> exactly. he had no civil rights program. basically, the deal was the south, white south -- blacks hardly even voted in the south, held no political offices. held almost no appointive offices. had no place in the justice system in the jim crow south of the '30s. the deal was fdr would let the south manage its own race problem, would not interfere at the level of the federal government. and in turn, the white south would do two things. vote for him and democrats, of course, since it was a one-party south at this time except for african americans primarily -- vote for democrats and fdr in national elections, and support his new deal programs in the congress. because many of the important committees were controlled by southerners. why were southerners so out of proportion represented in
important congressional committees? >> they didn't really have competitive elections after the primaries. >> exactly. it's very hard to get you out because only democrats get elected. so as they say the primary is tantamount to election. it's hard to beat an incumbent. so that was the deal. fdr would not interfere with race relations, would not push a civil rights program, and in turn, the white south would provide him and the democrat votes and suamt at least durin his first term. and the new deal was a great deal for the south. y?e south? >> well, because it would rebuild a lot of infrastructure that hadn't been addressed. >> what's the poorest area of the country? >> the south. >> the south. it has the poorest area of the country. it contributed the least in taxes and got the most in benefits. for example, as you say, a lot of infrastructure building was in the south. a lot of the rural
electrification under new deal was in the south. and of course african-amanjoinh party because of civil rights. why did they join the democratic party? yeah? >> because the new deal programs were marketed for them even though roosevelt really didn't have a civil rights agenda. although a lot of the new deal programs were very discriminatory. for example, social security did not include farm labor. a lot of african-americans in the south worked on farms. didn't include household labor. a lot of african-american women worked in the house. nonetheless, for the first time, at least something, at least something, was being done to improve the lot of african-americans. and they saw the republican party as a white man's party. as a party -- as things began to shift, particularly in the north, as a party that just wasn't interested in programs to help african-americans any longer. you know, maybe during the lincoln era, but in the '30s, they didn't see the republican
and certainly the economic policies of the republican party didn't seem to offer much to blacks. you had the white south, you had unions, had you african-americans. who else? >> kind of like the irish. the italians. the jews. urban ethnics were the final element of this very disparate new deal coalition. you know, you had groups that you know, did not necessarily easily harmonize and coalesce burks nonetheless, fdr was able to cobble together because they doing, and he was such a master of political maneuvering, that he was able to put together this very diverse coalition and establish it as the majority coalition in the united states. an extraordinary accomplishment. what else? how else did he change? we've pretty much got the politics down. we've got two the important
elements of public policy. what else? he kind of changed maybe what the debate was about because before, it's now about the government. >> yeah. one of the things you do in a transformation, like andrew jackson did or thomas jefferson, you move the whole center of politics. you change the whole conversation, as you'll see. people would commonly use that to describe ronald reagan. ronald reagan changed the whole conversation about politics. instead of the conversation being what can government do, reagan changed it to what problems has the government caused. franklin roosevelt changed the whole conversation about politics. it's very difficult to talk in terms of the conservative politics of the 1920s anymore, after the new deal and the political triumphs of fdr. what else?
>> changing expectations regarding the president as >> absolutely. now we're beginning to talk about some changes of the presidency itself. it's not that other presidents didn't initiate legislation. woodrow wilson did. theodore roosevelt did. but none kind of led and directed the national agenda on policy as much as fdr. he really -- anyone even remember who the leaders of congress was? you know? maybe, you know, a political junkie like you do, zach. but most people have no idea who the speaker of the house or you know, the majority leader. joe robinson. these names don't mean anything to anyone because fdr was so much at the center. it was the roosevelt's new deal program, which is not entirely true because there were very important figures notably senator robert wagner who are very important in forging a lot
of new deal programs. but nonetheless, more than ever before, legislative leadership came to be identified with and focused upon the presidency. which both expanded presidential power and created political jeopardy for presidents who, for example, like jimmy carter were unable to deliver on those props and expectations. what else? regarding the presidency or policy. one area -- yeah. >> the federal government was now an active participant in the economy. there were regulations, there were rules. >> exactly. federal government becomes a much more active participant in the economy and in people's lives, and something we haven't discussed, not only providing social welfare, not only operating fiscal policy and monetary policy to achieve prosperity, but now regulating business.
you now had a securities and exchange commission for the first time to regulate the securities market, for example. you now had new regulations and regulators for banks. so in a way that had never been the case before, the industria and financial economy of the united states was now being regulated by the federal government. so in addition to taking on responsibilities for social welfare, for prosperity, the federal government was also expected to curb the abuses of business, and also to counterbalance business power with labor power. remember, unions did not arise in the '30s only by their own effort, although that effort was very important. they were directly nurtured for the first time by the federal government with the passage of the wagner act or the national labor relations act. how did these new agencies and involvement of the federal government expand the power of the presidency is, specifically
the power of the presidency? >> well, the presidency lost a lot of the conservative tendencies. in the traditional sense. talking about the washingtonian ideal and how presidents have always tried to emulate them but like for the next election but like from roosevelt giving his speech, they would change the inauguration date after him. people obviously forgot about the idea of hearkening back to washington. >> because most presidents who >> kind of the remote you know, kind of president who deferred to tradition who didn't impose himself is gone by now replaced by the new interventionist activist president. another way in which a lot of these agencies changed the power of the presidency. >> it really increased the size of the federal government. >> right, and who's appointing all these new officials? the president, exactly. who's appointing the head of the securities and exchange commission? the head of the tva, the head of the fdic, the head of the irs? it's the president. so now you have all of these new
executive agencies under the control and appointment power of the presidency. enormously expanding the reach of the presidency over particularly the business life, but generally the life of the nation in a way that simply had never before been the case. yeah, there was some regulations before that. but never the kind of detailed regulation. particularly of business and finance that had been instituted under the new deal. and that at least nominally was under the control of the presidency. on the other hand, there's a downside to this enormous growth of the government and federal agency. what's the downside for the president?
>> doesn't it put him at more risk for scandal in >> certainly that. there's even a bigger kind of problem here for the president. >> a lot more expected of him? >> a lot more expected, and? >> a lot of red tape now. >> yeah, and the government becomes much, much more difficult to manage. you know, when you've got a small government with the limited functions, you know,' president can pretty much be on top of things. but as the government grows, as the number of agencies grows, the number of appointments grow. not only is there more room for scandal, and the roosevelt administration was hit by scandal, particularly in the wpa and other federal agencies and expectations rise. but the management problem of the presidency enormously expands. and the ability of the president to actually manage and control what he seems to have power over actually becomes much most of difficult. so this is one of the great paradoxes of the modern presidency.
as the scope of government and the ability of the president to make appointments and establish agencies and issue executive orders expands, the management problem becomes so much more difficult. and as you'll see, fdr during his second term does directly address that issue. and finally, we've all talked about this, but just to sum it up, in terms of the politics, the president also makes politics more direct, more personal, more democratic, eliminating the two-thirds rule for democratic nominations, establishing the idea that the president personally goes to the everybody listens to on the radio, and then of course later on the television with his fireside chats, directly speaking to the american people. with the use of modern polling techniques, trying more directly as never before to take the