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Was FDR a good president?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/18/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,604 times Debate No: 71945
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (6)
Votes (1)




First Round is acceptance. Good luck!
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting this controversial topic. Good luck to you.

This is how I will set up my argument. There will be four sections.
Section 1 - Economy
Section 2 - Discrimination
Section 3 - His Way or the High Way
Section 4 - Character

SECTION 1 *Economy*

The Great Depression was ongoing when FDR became president. It occurred under the Hoover Administration over three years before FDR took office. FDR did not cause the Great Depression, but he did not help to end it. His promised New Deal did not end the great depression, World War II did.

1. Taxes
FDR taxed an enormous amount of money for all income brackets. Before he took office the income tax on families was 25% for the wealthiest and was 1.5% for the poorest. Three to five years later, FDR raised that tax to 63% for the wealthy and 4% for the lowest earning families. The middle class was also taxed much more than previously. Throughout his whole presidency he raised this tax. By the end, 1945, the richest paid 94% taxes while the lowest earners paid 23%. This is all an incredulous amount to tax American citizens.

2. Unemployment
FDR and his New Deal created temporary, low paying jobs. Yes, that is better than no jobs, but the unemployment rate seemed unaffected. The unemployment rate when FDR became president was around 20%. By the end of his first term it was about 17%. This is a 3% difference. In his second term the unemployment rate INCREASED by 0.5%. The unemployment rate did not drastically change until his third term. It decreased down to about 1%. This was because of WWII, not because of FDR's economic policies.

3. National Debt
FDR set this precedent for all future presidents. He started the chain reaction of spending more money than we are actually making. The national debt was nothing, or close to nothing, when FDR began. By 1945, it was 260 billion dollars. If you calculate that into 2014 dollars that is just short of 3.5 TRILLION dollars. every president since has increased our national debt since FDR.

4. Policies
Yes, some New Deal Policies provided temporary relief, but many were terrible mistakes. They include:
National Labor Relations Act - Gave more power to unions (closed shops, etc). This resulted in countless strikes. There were 14 million strike days in 1936 and then 28 million strike days in 1937. These strikes resulted in less work being done and fewer employees at work.
National Industrial Recovery Act - The NIRA was created to boost prices. It allowed trade associations to set wages, working conditions, and prices for businesses. The NIRA was proven to be ineffective years later. With the high wages that employers were basically forced to set, prices rose. Consumers could not afford the skyrocketing prices. Also, it promoted monopolies. The NIRA was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

SECTION 2 *Discrimination*

FDR throughout his presidency refused to take action in many situations. He ignored some issues and did not address many of them for political purposes. He directly discriminated against the Japanese, African Americans, and women.

1. Imprisonment
Between 1942 and 1945, FDR forced over 120,000 Japanese Americans into internment camps. This is completely unconstitutional and obviously immoral. Because of their ethnicity, they lost their homes, education, freedom and liberty because of the government oppressing them.

2. Lynching
The Costigan-Wagner anti-lynching bill was given to FDR to stop the lynching of American citizens. He did nothing to pass it.

3. Women
Women were discriminated against in many of the New Deal programs. The 1933 Economy Act prohibited the federal government from hiring members of the same family. This caused many women to lose their jobs. The NRA permitted lower wages for women workers than their male counterparts for doing the exact same job.

4. Military
There was also a segregation of black and white Americans in the army. An African American could not lead larger groups on the battlefield.

SECTION 3 - *His Way or the High Way*

1. Court Packing
FDR attempted to pack the Supreme Court so the delegates in the Supreme Court would rule in favor of his New Deal programs. He tried increasing the delegates from 9 to 15 people. The people he would appoint would favor New Deal and make life much easier for FDR. This was unconstitutional and interferes with the balance of powers and checks and balances of the constitution.

2. Executive Orders
FDR has the record for the most executive orders from any president in history, almost double the closest in line. He had 3,522 executive orders during his presidency.

3. Vetos
FDR has the most vetoes from any president in history. He tallies up to 635 vetoes during his terms in office.


1. Lucy Mercer
Years before FDR became president, while he was married to Eleanor, he had an affair with a woman named Lucy Mercer. He promised Eleanor and Eleanor's mother with his hand over a bible that he would never see Lucy Mercer again. He did this because he feared a divorce would ruin his political career. The day of FDR's death, Eleanor found out that Lucy Mercer not only came to visit FDR on his deathbed, but was seeing FDR during his presidency throughout the years despite the promise FDR had made.


Economically FDR brought socialist programs into America when they were proven ineffective. He did not end the Great Depression. WWII brought America out of the Great Depression because of the jobs that were needed for the war effort. FDR discriminated against African Americans, Japanese Americans, and women unjustly and unfairly. There is no argument whether his discrimination was just or not, it is simply wrong and unconstitutional. FDR also liked to have things done his way. He tried unconstitutionally packing the court system and has the record for the most vetoes and executive orders by any president in history. Not only his presidency was a failure, but his personal life had flaws as well. He lied to his wife his entire life by seeing Lucy Mercer throughout his presidency, and I would be surprised if he did not lie to the American people.

Once again, thanks for accepting this debate. Good luck.


Thanks to my opponent.

I'm scrapped for time, so for my opening argument, I'm just going to list out some of the things FDR did which significantly benefited the country as a whole.

1. World War II

FDR's policies prior to and during World War II were absolutely essential for the Allies to reign victorious. "Roosevelt understood early on that territorial concessions would not satisfy Adolf Hitler and his fascist counterparts... Roosevelt condemned international aggression, but could do little else. The American public was decidedly isolationist and antiwar... In early 1939, Roosevelt asked Congress to repeal the Neutrality Act, so the U.S. could sell arms to the free European forces. Congress refused. In September, World War II began as Germany invaded Poland. Roosevelt spoke before Congress again, and on November 4, it approved the Pittman Bill, which allowed America to sell arms to nations who could pay for their weapons in cash...

"Roosevelt dramatically increased the defense budget from 1939 on and began to convert America to a military economy. Using powerful industrialists who could skillfully cut through governmental red tape, Roosevelt began to build the 'Arsenal of Democracy'" [1]. If the US hadn't been able to give European armies aid, and if its military hadn't been prepared to join the war in 1941, the Allies would almost certainly have lost the war; USA would never have become the world superpower it is today, and for all we know, Hitler could have conquered Europe. FDR's policies changed world history for the better, which is enough to affirm the resolution on its own.

2. G.I. Bill

FDR fully supported and eventually passed the G.I. Bill, which played a crucial role in the country's post-WW2 recovery, and, more importantly, led to huge long-term benefits for American Middle Class. "Education and training benefits were the most popular parts of the G.I. Bill, claimed by 51 percent of veterans. Some 2.2 million attended college or graduate school, and 5.6 million prepared for vocations in fields such as auto mechanics, electrical wiring, and construction. Veterans could attend any institution that admitted them, using benefits that covered even the costliest tuition and helped support spouses and children. Nearly three of every ten veterans used low-interest mortgages to buy homes, farms or businesses. The economic impact was huge...

"Four out of five men born in the United States during the 1920s served in the military, and about half of them used the G.I. Bill for education and training (either right after World War II or after the Korean War, when comparably generous benefits were provided). Prior to 1940, colleges were mostly for the privileged, but the G.I. Bill opened doors to many who were Catholic and Jewish, including rural people, first-generation immigrant offspring, and veterans from working and middle class backgrounds" [2]. This is what allowed for the America to remain economically prosperous after the war while the rest of the world was in a recession, which contributed to USA's becoming a global superpower.

3. Executive Order 8802

FDR issued an executive order to stop discrimination against African Americans for government jobs, particularly in the defense industry. "Executive Order 8802 constituted the first major federal government response to the plight of blacks since Reconstruction. Executive Order 8802 has been called a second Emancipation Proclamation. Sociologist William Julius Wilson has pointed out the war accelerated the entry of blacks into goods-producing industries and helped reduce black poverty" [3]. With this, FDR essentially set the foundation for the Civil Rights Movement which would occur over the next two decades.

4. Polio Vaccine

FDR founded "the enormously successful March of Dimes, raising more than $50 million a year in the late 1940's -- $250 million in 1995 dollars -- financed not only the iron lungs in the communities where the funds were raised but also a crash program of research mounted by the foundation on O'Connor's initiative as a national effort and aimed at the early development of a polio vaccine." [4][5]. The resulting vaccine almost eliminated polio from the United States; and this is a disease which had been killing thousands annually before the vaccine's development, becoming one of the most dreaded diseases among the American populace [6].



I have shown that FDR's actions as president allowed for the Allies to win World War 2, led to the United States' ascension to global-superpower status, gave the push that got the Civil Rights movement rolling, and played a huge role in virtually eliminating polio from the country. Given all that, it is plausible to claim that he's done more good for the country than almost every other US president. To claim that he was not a "good president" is patently absurd. The resolution is affirmed.


Debate Round No. 2


I must note that my opponent did not rebute any of my claims I made in my oppening argument. I assume they cannot be rebutted, but I will continue and rebute his claims instead.


First and most importantly, none of your points show how Roosevelt helped the United States during the Depression.. It focuses on WWII.

1. World War I
My oppenent mentions how, "FDR's policies prior and during World War II were absolutely essential..." There are also a multitude of policies that are quite often ignored in which Roosevelt failed this country. In my last argument you ignored the fact that hundreds of thousands of Japanese Americans were put into internment camps. You ignored how in World War II black and white units of military were segregated.

FDR actually was part of the reason Pearl Harbor occured. He sanctioned Japan and had the United States and all Allies stop sending raw materials to Japan. To the nation, Pearl Harbor was a surprise. To FDR, it was not. Of course this gives Japan no right to attack the United States, but history would have been mich different if FDR did not take such measures.

2. G.I Bill
I do agree with the G.I bill like most of America does; however, Roosevelt should not get all the credit. The G.I bill was put into law because, "Harry W. Colmery, a former national commander of the American Legion and former Republican National Chairman, is credited with drawing up the first draft of the GI Bill. It was introduced in the House on Jan. 10, 1944, and in the Senate the following day. Both chambers approved their own versions of the bill."
Then, "Ultimately, Rep. John Gibson of Georgia was rushed in to cast the tie-breaking vote. The Senate approved the final form of the bill on June 12, and the House followed on June 13. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed it into law on June 22, 1944."

3. FDR was much more discriminatory than you seem to portray.
In my previous argument:
- FDR imprisoned 120,000 Japanese
- His programs discriminated against minorities
- He refused to end lynching in the south for his own political purposes
- Segregated Troops in the military

Executive Order 8802.
You showed the part where FDR passed this into law, but did not mention why he did.
"Philip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, and other black leaders, met with Eleanor Roosevelt and members of the President"s cabinet. Randolph presented a list of grievances regarding the civil rights of African Americans, demanding that an Executive order be issued to stop job discrimination in the defense industry. Randolph, with others, threatened that they were prepared to bring "ten, twenty, fifty thousand Negroes on the White House lawn" if their demands were not met. After consultation with his advisers, Roosevelt responded to the black leaders and issued Executive Order 8802"
In retrospect, FDR was threatened by the black community to do something for African Americans. FDR reluctantly enforced this executive order.

4. Polio Vaccine
FDR may have helped fund Polio, but he also ignored many diseases. He raised money for Polio research because he had Polio himself.
Lung Disease
These are both epidemics or large causes of deaths in the 1940's that FDR did not raise funds for. Why? Because it never affected him personally.

I will end my rebuttal and argument here. I will ask if you can rebute my first arguments on your next turn.

Also, thanks for taking the debate seriously.


I concede the debate. You win.
Debate Round No. 3


Thank you for the enjoyable debate and honesty.

For the sake of the topic, I will demonstrate one last argument against FDR.

Yalta Conference

FDR, Winston Churchill, and Stalin all met at Yalta to discuss what would exactly happen after the war. "The Allied leaders also discussed the future of Germany, Eastern Europe and the United Nations."

This conference and how FDR handled the situation is what lead to the Soviet Unions domination and control of eastern Europe and also the control over portions of Germany and Berlin. The Berlin Wall and communism in eastern Europe were huge effects of this situation. FDR gave up too much to the Soviet Union at the Yalta conference.
"FDR ignored informed State Department critics."
FDR was well aware of the situation, but thought that Stalin would stay to his agreement and allow elections in eastern Europe. The failure of FDR showed to be a huge burden during the Cold War that followed years later and continued for decades to come.

Looking back at the 1930's and 1940's, it is evident that FDR was not as good as others seem to portray him. My opponent has conceded, therefore I win this debate; however, outside of the compounds of this debate I hope I changed or slightly influenced someone out there who did not realize the negatives that FDR has brought this nation. Thanks for the debate.


WillYouMarryMe forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by syracuse100 2 years ago
Good! I am glad I could help you.
Posted by syracuse100 2 years ago
Good! I am glad I could help you.
Posted by kingkd 2 years ago
syracuse this helped me im doing debate on FDR also
Posted by syracuse100 2 years ago
By the way, I said "FDR raised that tax to 63% for the wealthy and 4%", that was Hoover whom did that, but FDR raised it from 63% to over 90% in his presidency.
Posted by That1User 2 years ago
Because of the New Deal and his leadership during WWII.
Posted by Wylted 2 years ago
Why would anyone take pro on this?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by TheJuniorVarsityNovice 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: pro ffs