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Video transcript

so we're talking about the long essay section on the AP u.s. History exam in the first video on this essay we talked about kind of general strategy for how to approach the essay you've got 35 minutes to write it so I recommend you spend five to ten minutes planning and 25 to 30 minutes writing so the question we've decided to answer is some historians have argued that the New Deal was ultimately conservative in nature support modify or refute this interpretation providing specific evidence to justify your answer so we've come to the conclusion that there are three different ways we could go with answering this question now we could say yes we think that the New Deal was ultimately conservative we could say no actually the New Deal was quite radical or we could say it was both or neither somewhere in between so we then took the opportunity to just kind of brainstorm things that we might bring up in an essay like that what kinds of facts are related to the New Deal and we recalled that the New Deal was this series of programs implemented by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his administration to try to combat the Great Depression and it contained a real alphabet soup of agencies which aimed at trying to get work to Americans to help Americans who were struggling and also to try to make sure that something like this never happened again but we noted that the New Deal ultimately didn't really work partly because the Supreme Court rolled back some of its agencies as being unconstitutional and partly because it was actually world war two that got the United States out of the Great Depression so let's take a minute and just pinpoint some of the themes that have come up as we've brainstormed these possible pieces of evidence well it seems like we definitely want to talk about just kind of the system of government in general and definitely the economy the economy is really the heart of the Great Depression what else can we think about well as historians were always interested in questions of race and class and gender so we're always wondering how did things affect people who are white differently than people who were black how did it affect rich people differently than poor people or women differently than men and it's just a really useful way of thinking about how benefits in American society might not necessarily accrue to everyone okay so these are some possible themes we can cover now let's ask ourselves whether in each of these themes the New Deal was something that was radical or something that was conservative okay government so was government in general kind of radical or was it kind of conservative in this time period well I think there's a good argument to be made that government was conservative in this time period because the United States didn't give up the democratic system you know many nations in the world did in this time period think about Germany which became fascist in this time period so there's still a commitment in the New Deal to keeping the governmental system of democracy alive even though the economy has tanked no one has said well this is a clear example that democracy doesn't work so let's try being fascist you could also say that there is a radical change in government in this time period because the government is now taking on roles it has never taken on before so there's just a completely new level of intervention in the economy by the government that you could say is completely radical all right how about the economy well I think there's a good argument to be made that the New Deal was conservative in the economy because the United States didn't give up capitalism you know just like the United States decided that they weren't going to give up democra see they were going to give up the system of capitalism itself the New Deal instead with things like the NRA or maybe Social Security was instead designed to kind of shore up capitalism to solve the problems of capitalism instead of maybe going toward a completely government-run economy or completely people led economy like in communism but you could also say that the economy in this time period is really radical because again there's this massive government intervention there's a complete rewrite of how the United States thinks about what the role of government in the economy is okay how about race I think it's pretty easy to argue that the New Deal was conservative in terms of race because very few people think of the 1930s as this major turning point for civil rights for african-americans or any other group you know in most cases the economic pressure of the Great Depression meant that many people who are minorities many women actually lost their jobs because of a racist idea that white men were more deserving of those jobs so you might say that yeah the civil rights movement doesn't happen till later you could also talk about maybe job loss on the flip side you might talk about the opportunity that the Great Depression gave to talk about real economic disparities between whites and other races you might even say you know Eleanor Roosevelt in this time period was a essential advocate for civil rights especially making sure that the benefits of the New Deal trickled down in whatever way they could to minorities and that the New Deal itself was not intended to separate african-americans and whites in jobs in its benefits it was mostly administrators at the local level who might have prevented african-americans from reaping those benefits okay what about class think this is a really important one because the New Deal is all about the relationship between the rich and the poor and I think one thing that the New Deal does that is very revolutionary I know I'm flipping the order here is it really makes people question the idea that wealth is earned completely without relationship to one status in life right in the period of the Gilded Age many people said things like oh well you know the wealthy people the white people they are in a better position in life because they're more deserving they've worked harder they maybe even be racially superior according to the logic of the time and then the Great Depression which affects so many people really makes people rethink this idea that wealth and status are connected with one's personal worth so you could say it really kind of up ends this idea of social Darwinism that you know the fittest the best in society are the ones who are prospering but you could also say that in terms of class once again the New Deal was nothing like the revolution in Russia there was no massive redistribution of land there wasn't this great sense of class consciousness and workers uprising instead it pretty much continued the patterns of social classes that existed before in terms of women's lives in the New Deal you might say that you know things for women might even have been worse in this time period than in the 1920s because again as jobs contracted those jobs were often reserved for white men in fact some of these programs like the Civilian Conservation Corps were only for men only for people who were considered breadwinners on the radical side you could say that the New Deal opened up many new positions for women in the federal government for example Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed Frances Perkins the first-ever cabinet secretary who was a woman and you might also even talk about Eleanor Roosevelt and her own prominence you know she really transformed the position of first lady which is something that is going to be important throughout the rest of the 20th century so you may be noticing here that there are good arguments for going either way and the fact is either way you argue this or even if you choose to go this route of modifying or saying either or both radical and conservative they're both right so at this point you just have to decide which way you want to write about and then marshal your evidence for your essay now we'll get to that in the next video
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