chapter  XVII
XVII The New Deal Revolution
By• Roosevelt Takes Charge 361
Pages 20

The economic collapse that followed the stock market crash of 1929 gave the Democrats a landslide victory in the 1932 elections. The Republicans had claimed credit for the prosperity of the twenties, and the country held them responsible for bringing on the Great Depression. Franklin D. Roosevelt won the presidency by a wide electoral margin, and the Democrats also won overwhelming control of Congress, giving them a clear mandate for decisive action in dealing with the depression. Although the Democrats would have won in any case, it was Roosevelt’s broad popular appeal that turned the Republican defeat into a political rout. Campaigning everywhere and making brilliant use of the radio to get his message across, Roosevelt captured the imagination of the nation with his magnetism and oratory. He promised the country a New Deal in the form of massive governmental intervention to restore the economy. Progressive Republicans deserted their party in droves to support him. The measure of Roosevelt’s popularity can be gauged from the poor showing of the Socialists who had expected to poll a huge protest vote. Their candidate Norman Thomas polled fewer votes than Debs got in 1920 campaigning from a federal prison. The nation trusted Roosevelt to restore the economy within the private enterprise system without drastic changes.