|Roosevelt the outdoorsman
Part Two: By 1932, Roosevelt was poised for national office. He'd slugged it out on a state level with the Tammany Hill political establishment—he won some and lost some. And he learned that a certain locality was necessary even on a national stage. So he made sure to mend fences with his former political nemesis. Fate had also dealt blows to Roosevelt, with the first two being typhus and the 1918 Flu. While the last blow was polio, this may have been the one that helped his fighting spirit emerge. This may also have been spurred by his competitive nature. Roosevelt was a very active young man, having learned shooting, rowing, polo and golf, not to mention sailing. Competition and sportsmanship were attributes that added to a quiver of already inherent presidential qualities.
The DNA of Roosevelt includes genuine Americanism. He is from Dutch stock that came to the New World in time to fight for independence, making FDR a Son of the American Revolution. His great grandfather, Isaac Roosevelt, not only fought, he was steeped in politics as well. He served in the New York state assembly and was also a member of the state Constitutional Convention. That was the Roosevelt side. His maternal grandfather was the foundation of the family wealth earned from his China trade activities—importing opium and tea to be specific. The family wealth afforded FDR education by travel. Many visits to Europe allowed him to hone his conversational skills in both French and German, obviously serving him down the road. To be sure, Roosevelt went to elite schools. In fact one of his headmasters was a great influence, suggesting that students not only help the less fortunate, but also enter public life. And for public life, Roosevelt had more than one role model.
|Teddy Roosevelt campaign pin
Interestingly, young Roosevelt had met President Grover Cleveland, even spoke with him. Cleveland he whispered to the boy that he hoped he'd never be president, implying that it was a burden—perhaps even a curse. And then there was cousin Theodore Roosevelt, who'd served as president from 1901 to 1909. He had a profound political impact on FDR, despite being a Republican. Theodore was a reformist and his leadership style was anything but passive. Franklin Roosevelt admired these things about his cousin. It should be noted that Franklin Roosevelt followed a similar office ascension as Theodore Roosevelt. Both men served in the New York state legislature, were appointed as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and, of course, served as presidents. Additionally, Franklin Roosevelt's "New Deal" was not altogether dissimilar in spirit and some goals as Theodore Roosevelt's less famous but equally progressive "Square Deal" policies from a few decades earlier. Both sought to rein in business and protect the American people. It is politically intriguing that the iconic personification of the Democratic Party was so inspired by and borrowed significantly from a Republican president.
Ultimately however, two things define Roosevelt going into the election of 1932, and they were the Great Depression and polio. Polio made him human, rather than an elitist. Roosevelt had established an institute to help those with the disease. Add this to his progressive views on just about everything, which were very popular during the depression, and the stage was set to catapult the man into branding history.
Therefore, submitted for your approval...
1. Determine the most appropriate brand-positioning attribute.
Roosevelt developed and packaged a formula to relieve the out-of-work masses, which included recovery programs and reforms to hopefully prevent future similar economic collapses. And its implementation meant a huge expansion in the government's role in the US economy. This was his pitch to America, but it was built on the support of those masses from which he cobbled together a substantial political coalition—united labor unions, big city machines, white ethnics, blacks, and rural white Southerners. He'd learned to work with them during his days in the state assembly and as governor. In contemporary terms, these were people who felt abandoned by the system and pushed aside by the man. Assembling this coalition, Roosevelt wholly realigned American politics after 1932, defining American liberalism for the next thirty years and beyond.
2. Devise a distinctive way to articulate the brand
The value proposition in Roosevelt's program to battle the Great Depression was hope and optimism for all. Just as he was while editor-in-chief of The Harvard Crimson daily newspaper, Roosevelt was ambitious in his aims, energetic in his activities, and persistently optimistic about a positive outcome and to renew the national spirit and hope for the future. Understanding that he needed to recharge American pride, he made his attitude and determination the the embodiment of his new deal.A new deal for hope
3. Develop a personality by which to identify the brand
Roosevelt - for a new deal
4. Establish graphic standards.
In terms of look, Roosevelt made it a standard to not be seen as weak. So, rarely was he photographed in a wheelchair and great care was taken to minimize the appearance of his leg braces. In fact there are only three images ever with him seen in a wheelchair. He was always photographed as energetic and confident, or serious and thoughtful.
5. Consistently execute the branding program.
When taking office after his first election, Roosevelt was intent on making his first hundred days in office count. He kicked off the New Deal with every intent to quickly relieve those worst affected by the depression. But results were not immediate. There was a second new deal in 1936 and in all, included government jobs for the unemployed, policies designed to foster economic growth, and regulation of Wall Street, banks and transportation. Various programs benefitted the unemployed and farmers, and supported labor unions while restricting business and finance. Of note is the fact that much the regulations on business remained in effect until 1985. Still in existence today are the Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Social SecurityAdministration.
America struggled to climb out of the depression. While the New Deal certainly provided relief and political confidence, it remains arguable whether the programs actually "pulled" the US economy up. Given that Europe and Asia were building up for war, it could be argued that those are the coals that fired the global economy. It must also be said that as World War II approached, and despite Roosevelt's efforts to remain officially neutral, his goal of making America the "Arsenal of Democracy" by supplying material support to the Allies, aided industrial recovery. Once the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was endured, the rest of the Roosevelt presidency became history. During the war, unemployment dropped to 2%, relief programs largely ended, and the industrial economy exploded as millions moved to wartime factory jobs or entered military service. After the war, his concept of a United Nations took hold and is an international forum, although not quite the solution to conflict he'd hoped.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt died after winning a record four terms in office. Some scholars consider him one of the top three U.S. Presidents, along with Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. That is open for debate. But undeniably, FDR burned his mark into the fabric of American politics, global relations, and in history with incredible feats of energy, vision, and persistence. He was a new deal that continues to impact the United States and the world.