The Politics of Roosevelt and the Party of Tradition
The partial efforts of the New Deal to reach out to new constituencies led to increased organizational activity at all levels of society. Citizen groups helped shape the city's welfare system and accelerate its lagging commitment to social responsibility. The unemployed organized to improve their status as clients in the emergent welfare state, and workers challenged their bosses and the city's traditions by bringing the union to the work place and the community. Central to all their activities was their growing attachment to the national Democratic party. Federal policy makers attempted not only to encourage and control these organizational energies but also to ensure their practical translation into voting for the New Deal and its leader, Franklin D. Roosevelt. And in ever-growing numbers, the New Deal encouraged the political participation of those voters who were often traditionally neglected by the city's political leadership. It was not enough, however, merely to vote for Roosevelt; organized groups held the larger responsibility of spreading the New Deal message-- a job that took on added urgency in a city governed by Democrats hostile to the policies emanating from Washington. Thanks to their efforts, local leaders tempered their opposition to Roosevelt, mixing criticisms with less offensive observations about the New Deal and, on occasion, even claiming credit for some of its innovations.