In his first term in office, Franklin Roosevelt helped pull the nation out of the Great Depression with his landmark programs In November 1936, every state except Maine and Vermont voted enthusiastically for his reelection But then the political winds shifted Not only did the Supreme Court block some of his transformational experiments, but he also faced serious oppositIn his first term in office, Franklin Roosevelt helped pull the nation out of the Great Depression with his landmark programs In November 1936, every state except Maine and Vermont voted enthusiastically for his reelection But then the political winds shifted Not only did the Supreme Court block some of his transformational experiments, but he also faced serious opposition within his own party Conservative Democrats such as Senators Walter George of Georgia and Millard Tydings of Maryland allied themselves with Republicans to vote down New Deal bills.Susan Dunn tells the dramatic story of FDR s unprecedented battle to drive his foes out of his party by intervening in Democratic primaries and backing liberal challengers to conservative incumbents Reporters branded his tactic a purge and the inflammatory label stuck Roosevelt spent the summer months of 1938 campaigning across the country, defending his progressive policies and lashing out at conservatives Despite his efforts, the Democrats took a beating in the midterm elections.The purge stemmed not only from FDR s commitment to the New Deal but also from his conviction that the nation needed two responsible political parties, one liberal, the other conservative Although the purge failed, at great political cost to the president, it heralded the realignment of political parties that would take place in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s By the end of the century, the irreconcilable tensions within the Democratic Party had exploded, and the once solidly Democratic South was solid no It had taken sixty years to resolve the tangled problems to which FDR devoted one frantic, memorable summer.
Roosevelt s Purge How FDR Fought to Change the Democratic Party In his first term in office Franklin Roosevelt helped pull the nation out of the Great Depression with his landmark programs In November every state except Maine and Vermont voted enthusiastica
Thoroughly enjoyed this book detailing FDR s 1938 attempt to push conservative largely Southern and Western Democrats out of the party in order to ensure that the Congressional Democratic base was comprised of New Dealers Dunn does a good job of setting up the story in the historical context, highlighting how the purge was a major aberration from FDR s well known and very successful tactic of pushing New Deal policies through Congress via peacemaking and consensus A large portion of the book det [...]
Susan Dunn s account of Franklin Roosevelt s attempt to purge conservative Democrats from the party in the 1938 midterm elections provides an enjoyable narrative of the campaign and a useful analysis of its failure Yet Dunn founds her book on a questionable premise that the midterm elections in that year began the process of realigning the national political parties along the ideological lines that they possess today Such an argument is flawed, as it ignores the ideological recasting that took p [...]
I wish this book had spent time discussing the actual contests in which FDR attempted to purge conservative Democrats Instead, the first half of the book discussed his administration and goals, a topic in which I have been swimming for two years thanks to Directed Readings research All of that aside, the book is well written and includes some nice photographs of FDR through the late 30s.