This Week’s Mtg: Lessons of the New Deal

The New Deal has passed from history into myth, which is too bad, because the response to our worst economic catastrophe has some big lessons for how to deal with our current one.  But,
what was the New Deal, really?  Do either liberals or conservatives invoke its name on the right way?

On Thursday I’ll open with 15 minutes on what the New Deal was – and was not.  This will end with the usual:  I’ll try to frame our discussion analytically, in this case by listing a few of the lessons usually mentioned by historians and political New Deal invokers.  Below are some discussion questions we can use to guide us after that, and links to information about the new Deal.

I think this is a great topic, especially if we can keep the focus on lessons for today and the future, not on historical minutiae.


  1. What exactly was the New Deal?  What problems was it trying to solve and what did it consist of?
  2. What ideology and interests guided the New Dealers – and their critics?
  3. Did the New Deal “work?”  What parts succeeded and which ones did not work? (tricky, because the goals were broader – and the effects were way broader – than just curing the
    Depression.  Also, government policies were only part of the story.)
  4. How do Americans remember the New Deal?  Do the Left or Right get it right?
  5. What are the lessons for todays’ crisis and tomorrow’s America?  (Economic lessons. Political lessons.)
  6. Is a “New New Deal” possible today or even possible?  How would it resemble the original?



Let’s have a good turnout for this important topic!


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