Rarely do we look to the United States for examples of socially-oriented economic interventionism. And yet, this is indeed what Roosevelt’s New Deal was, with its limits, temporary, but also intrinsic. Julia Bracher’s archival documentary attempts to take stock of this parenthesis in American history. The chronology of events is taken from the stock market crisis of 1929, a consequence of speculation. At the time Governor of New York, Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt stepped up to the plate against the laissez-faire advocated by Republican President Hoover. The latter continues to defend the myth of self-regulation of the market, while the lines of soup kitchens lengthen in the cities, and while, in the countryside, the farmers, expropriated by the banks, take to the roads of Europe. Exodus. “Hoover refuses to face the situation. This is not the time for opportunism or timid plans. Audacity alone will be useful to us”, attacks Roosevelt, at the approach of the presidential election of 1932.
Once installed in the White House, he therefore launched a vast program of reforms. Among the first series of measures, we note in particular the major modernization works in the 7 federated states most affected by the crisis. Or the creation of a civilian body for the protection of the environment, which will provide employment to 2.5 million young Americans, over nine years. Then, in a second step, it will be the establishment of an embryo of unemployment insurance and old-age insurance, as well as a labor law extending the rights of employees vis-à-vis employers. Caricatured by his opponents as a “communist”, Roosevelt did not attack economic inequalities at the root, and lacked courage in the fight against racial discrimination. Beyond the return to the New Deal, this documentary paints a portrait of America in the 1930s.