Alan Brinkley examines the objectives and problems of liberalism during the early stages of the New Deal and its later consequences during wartime. According to the author, the initial understanding of liberalism was that “something was wrong with capitalism and that government should find a way to repair it” (Brinkley, 1996, p. 5). In other words, the followers of the movement imagined full employment, better use of national resources, and wealth redistribution as key factors to provide Americans with a decent life. Moreover, Brinkley emphasizes this point by stating that the new fiscal policies, such as Keynesianism, became the “liberal hope” for the economy.
This approach survived throughout the New Deal period and became even more transparent by the war’s end. The author states, “liberal discussion of the postwar world centered on a single, highly resonant phrase: “full employment” (Brinkley, 1996, p. 228). Brinkley believes that the years of reforms and economic policies have significantly changed the ideology of American liberals, leading to a focus on full employment as the liberal hope. People realized that full employment was an achievable objective that would allow for maximizing consumer potential and boosting the economy. As a result, many liberals perceived this approach as a critical factor in providing Americans with a stable and decent life. The advocates of liberalism defended fiscal policies as the necessary element to achieve this objective. Ultimately, by the end of the examined period, full employment has become the primary focus and hope of liberals.
Brinkley, A. (1996). The end of reform: New Deal liberalism in recession and war. Vintage.
Polenberg, R. D. (2000). The era of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933-1945: A brief history with documents. Bedford.