Hoover believed in ‘rugged individualism’ where people should not expect help from the government and that the government will not interfere. Whereas Roosevelt promised his ‘New Deal’, which would provide jobs and relief for the poor, and the unemployed, action to help industry and agriculture and resolve the banking crisis. Roosevelt promised the government would help and starting funding charities and many construction projects, whereas under Hoover the government rarely funded relief programmes or charities, which relied on generous wealthy individuals and towns and cities.
He believed the power of the government should be used to create a fairer society, bringing hope to many Americans. Also all Hoover promised in his election was that the USA had ‘turn the corner back to prosperity’ whereas Hoover had his ‘New Deal’, which seemed much more promising. Also when Hoover won his first term election he said that every American would have two cars in the garage and chicken in the pot. However, many people were now unemployed and homeless. Many people did not trust Hoover or his promises.
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However the main reason that Roosevelt triumphed over Hoover would be because he was immensely popular, his public image was much better. Hoover had the image of an uncaring heartless person, whereas Roosevelt was seen as a fighter, having fought polio and running as president even though paralysed waist down. Furthermore, what he had done for the ordinary people of New York as governor added to his caring image. Hoover had taken office shortly before the Crash. Many Americans blamed him for it and not doing enough. The way they conducted their campaigns were also vital.
Roosevelt’s smile and optimism proved far more popular with the electorate than Hoover’s grim looks. Furthermore, Roosevelt got out to meet the people, toured around America far more than Hoover. People got to know him and he was willing to listen to their problems. There are many images of him talking and shaking hands with ordinary people. When talking to crowds he would mention ordinary individuals he had talked to and there problems – a woman with a baby, a miner, an old fellow… This gave Roosevelt the image of someone who cares for the ordinary person, whereas Hoover didn’t seem interested in his or her problems.
Moreover, since Hoover believed the economy would eventually recover by itself, therefore not providing much relief, it further added to Hoovers image of being uncaring and heartless, which is unfair because he eventually did take a little actions, but definitely not enough and was not seen as the right man for the task of bringing about a recovery. A crisis point was reached in the summer of 1932 where bonus marchers, people who fought in World War One, marched in Washington DC demanding their payment of $500.
Hoover reacted badly to this, using tanks, the army and tear gas to disperse the marchers. Two of them died. Many people did not like how Hoover treated the people who risked their lives for their country. Furthermore, Roosevelt promised to bring end to the extremely unpopular prohibition of alcohol. People wanted a drink – free and legal. People were tired of all the problems Prohibition had caused – the gangsters, killings, crooked dealings by big businesses etc.
Overall, Roosevelt’s proposed policies, optimistic attitude and smile, campaigning around the country, talking to listening to the ordinary person and his promise to end the unpopular prohibition was more than a match for Hoovers grim looks, uncaring and heartless image, ‘rugged individualism’ and the way he conducted his campaign. Hoover was not an evil man, however, he was not the right man to lead America and the world through the Great Depression. Roosevelt was extremely popular, had a great public image and relationship, and seen as the only person who could lead America out of the Depression.
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