Why were conservatives opposed to the New Deal?

1 Answer
May 31, 2016

The New Deal involved the redistribution of wealth, which is every conservative's greatest fear.


Conservatives strongly believe in small government, low taxes, no handouts and letting Wall Street do its thing without government interference. These bedrock principles work really well--until they don't. In 1929, an under-regulated stock market collapsed. The people who weathered the storm (and there were some) believed that letting the market fix itself was the obvious solution to the problem, and Herbert Hoover was more than willing to let it try.

Three years in, it still wasn't working. Franklin Roosevelt's approach was to create a lot of public works projects where the government would tax the wealthy and pay the poor to paint banks, dig ditches and fix up the Tennessee Valley. He also closed the banks to prevent depositors from emptying them and keeping the cash in their mattresses until the troubles passed.

America survived the Depression by socializing itself to a pretty minor degree, until the war began and the war effort put most people back to work again. Conservatives at the time believed that a program of tax breaks and less regulation would have done the job better, but that just wasn't most Americans' reality.