1932–FDR Nomination Speech–Leanne Spedding
The election of 1932 was a landslide victory for Democrats, who seated Franklin D. Roosevelt in the as the 32nd President of the United States. Roosevelt won the popular and electoral votes, holding 57.41% and 88.9% of the votes respectively. However, there was not much time, or money, for celebration, given the nation was in the worst of the Great Depression. Unemployment was peaking at 25%, war was expanding in Asia and Europe, and Roosevelt’s New Deal Program was being put to the test. To revive the faith of the American people he needed to stay in their good graces.
Unlike his predecessor, Herbert Hoover, Roosevelt did not outline specifically, or in detail, what his plans for the country were and instead chose to keep the public at a relative distance, all while keeping them close. Though this seems contradictory, it was made possible by the President’s friendly relations with the media and his style of speaking; an often ambiguous, yet optimistic and authoritative, yet humorous tone. Roosevelt also utilized the radio, an up-and-coming mass media technology, which allowed him to access citizens immediately, while in the comfort of their own homes. In fact, after his first inaugural address in November 1933, he utilized the radio to have “Fireside Chats” with the American people. This gave citizens the feeling that they were getting to know Roosevelt and his policies personally. He spoke simply; in order to explain what he was going to do and to prove that what he was doing was right. Such stylistic components, as well as his fearlessness in adapting to new times and technologies gave Roosevelt an edge not only in the 1932 election, but also in his presidential and international career.
In his nomination address, Roosevelt outlines this attitude on challenging the status quo. He states, “Let it also be symbolic that I broke traditions. Let it be from now on the tradition of our Party to break foolish traditions.” Such a call to action is ‘unprecedented and unusual,’ however it was clear that the traditional approaches to presidency were not working to alleviate the burdens of the Great Depression. Throughout the speech Roosevelt speaks in a very forward tone. It is simple, yet matter-of-fact, showing he stands firmly and is conscious of the goals and progress he wants to make.
Roosevelt speaks with intelligence and competence, but also keeps the common man in mind, thus ensuring his clarity: “Let us look a little at the recent history and simple economics, the kind of economics that you and I and the average man and woman talk.” He puts himself on par with other normal citizens, again making himself seemingly available for others to access. Roosevelt also constantly, and continuously, references the audience as “My friends;” doing so give insight on his appeals to the public and reminds them that they are a priority.
The interdependence of people on each other and of people working together paints a hopeful view for the future, and in conclusion Roosevelt pledges for a new deal. Furthermore, he insinuates that “This is more than a political campaign; it is a call to arms. Give me your help, not to win votes alone, but to win in this crusade to restore American to its own people.” Using a religious metaphor, such as a crusade, insinuates that the problem and solution to the country’s problems are far bigger than any one person, in fact they are divine and that the fight to regain American is a fight to regain the Promised Land.
Roosevelt’s nomination address set the tone for the Democrat’s campaign, looking back, it almost seems reminiscent of a pep talk in that it breathes life into the party, refocusing on specific goals, in addition to setting a firm, progressive tone, not only for the campaign, but the presidency.
Once elected into office Roosevelt moved quickly to put the New Deal into action and reminds American’s that it is his “firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” With this famous speech, he revitalizes people’s spirits and there is a brief moment of prosperity, before another recession, and the ensuing Second World War.
President Roosevelt’s victory in the election of 1932 was a landslide, in part because of the failures of the Republican leaders, but also because of Roosevelt’s ability to evoke an optimism from the American people, always speaking in a spirited, firm tone to his listeners, comforting them and guiding them, even through his last days.
1932 Presidential General Election Results.” Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. Web. 15 June 2011. http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/national.php?year=1932.
“Fireside Chats of Franklin D. Roosevelt.” MHRIC Home Page. Web. 15 June 2011. http://www.mhric.org/fdr/fdr.html.
“The Presidents.” The White House. Web. 15 June 2011. http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents.
“Roosevelt’s Nomination Address, 7/2/32.” New Deal Network. Web. 15 June 2011. http://newdeal.feri.org/speeches/1932b.htm.