New Deal: New Bets

FDR did make a “deal” with the American people, that’s true and the name, “New Deal”, is apt.*

I ask, How did he do the supporting programs and reforms that were his side of his deal with Americans? The dynamic and trade-offs of the deal he struck are interesting. And why they worked is interesting history of policy and political science. But more interesting to me is how he manifested the outcomes he promised to deliver. You could say my question is, how did he govern? Or a better word, how did he administer?

In large part, the answer is: his administration experimented.

I find the fact that this great reform vision was achieved by – making bets and seeing which ones worked and which ones’ didn’t and calling that his New Deal governing.

In his New York Times Opinion column of July 30, 2020, “The Future of American Liberalism“, David Brooks writes these characterizations of the FDR adminitration:
People … want a leader, like F.D.R., who demonstrates optimistic fearlessness.
…willing to try anything that met the specific emergencies of the moment.
…a wanton willingness to experiment.
…a populist revolt that…F.D.R. …mostly he just outperformed them with talent.
If you want to unleash a torrent of action you have to let individual members of Congress drive their own initiatives…
F.D.R. …was so shifting and pragmatic…
…it’s possible to get a lot done…if you are willing to be…openly experimental.


* Stuart Chase, an economist and member of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “brain trust” who coined the term “New Deal,” died Saturday [November 16, 1985] … his most famous work, “A New Deal,” published in 1932…

Los Angeles Times Nov. 18, 1985 Chase, Roosevelt Adviser Who Coined Term ‘New Deal,’ Dies