View Full Version : FDR as a peacetime President
December 7th, 2010, 01:42 PM
FDR is elected in 1932 as President, beating out Hoover in a campaign dominated by the Great Depression. Using the minimum amount of handwavium to prevent WWII (for example, Stresemann lives and the Germans remain relatively reasonable, Japan's leaders wake up one morning and become isolationist, and Stalin decides Socialism In One Country is what his foreign policy will be forever), how does FDR handle the ensuing term of a less tumultuous Europe, and possibly the years up to 1940's election as well, with no war abroad and a more peaceful planet.
What would FDR be like as a merely peacetime President? Obviously his service between 1933 and 1939 tells us a few things, but that was on a backdrop of a militarising Europe and increased tensions in the Far East. Without The War In Europe, does he win re-election in 1940? Without WWII, does he live longer, or would he surely step down at the 1944 election as there was none of the urgency of OTL's wartime election?
Finally, how is he remembered today? The right like to paint him as a meddler whose mistakes during the New Deal were masked by the massive industrialisation the USA underwent during WWII. Without this, would they have been proved right? Would he be a decent and respected President, rather than regularly in the top three 'all-time-greats' list?
December 7th, 2010, 04:39 PM
I'm not sure he'd be nearly as well thought of as he is in OTL. Consider, if you would, that the earlier measures were faltering by 1938: indeed, there was a noticeably nasty recession in '38 that lasted into '39 and beyond, I think. What really brought the US economy out of that was, ironically, defense spending.
Now, absent that defense spending, and absent any need to re-arm, I don't see any likelihood of a third term. That said, assuming the absence of a threatening Germany, perhaps there wouldn't be the falling-out that FDR and Joe Kennedy had in OTL. If so, then quite possibly Kennedy would be the Dems' nominee in '40. Would he have had a shot? Yes. Better than Al Smith? Yes again. Would he have won? Depends, but I doubt it. He'd have been hamstrung by the economic setbacks for starters, as well as the lesser but still present anti-Catholic bias in a lot of the US at the time. Could be that Kennedy might have beaten the relatively colorless Bob Taft, but Wendell Willkie would have eaten him for breakfast.
Back to the original subject: FDR retires to Hyde Park and becomes divorced from Eleanor in all but the strictest legal sense. Their lives are entirely independent as the '40s pass along. I think FDR might live until about 1950 or so, but the same predisposition to a major stroke would remain; it probably wouldn't surface until then absent the stresses of the war.
Today, he'd be thought of as a good but not great president: one who did what he could to help end the depression, but couldn't quite seal the deal in the face of the '38 recession.
December 7th, 2010, 05:41 PM
I'm not sure he'd be nearly as well thought of as he is in OTL. Consider, if you would, that the earlier measures were faltering by 1938: indeed, there was a noticeably nasty recession in '38 that lasted into '39 and beyond, I think.
The Recession of 1937–1938, sometimes called the Roosevelt Recession, was a temporary reversal of the pre-war 1933 to 1941 economic recovery from the Great Depression in the United States. Economists disagree about the causes of this downturn. Keynesian economists tend to assign blame to cuts in Federal spending and increases in taxes at the insistence of the US Treasury, while monetarists, most notably Milton Friedman tended to assign blame to the Federal Reserve's tightening of the money supply in 1936 and 1937
Both causes are butterflied away by the handwavium of the OP. Thus, no recession in 37/38 means FDR's policies continue along their highly successful track ;) :)
May 30th, 2011, 03:02 PM
Bumping this because it's about 5 months old and a topic ripe for discussion.
May 30th, 2011, 03:08 PM
FDR would not have run in 1940 had he governed in what Eleanor memorably called "ordinary time." Nominating either a Southerner or a Catholic, especially the Catholic mentioned, in the United States of 1940 is ASB. He might still be seen as "great" given the Depression though. Anyone who handled that reasonably well would get automatically promoted to the Pantheon.
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