Fdr and Hoover: Liberal or Conservative?

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Hindsight is 20-20 only so long as that particular hindsight comes from an accepted frame of reference. This applies as much to descriptions of historical individuals as it does to any other thing. For their actions while serving as president, FDR and Hoover are described as a liberal and conservative, respectively. The label given to Roosevelt was mostly true, while the moniker used to define Hoover is largely false.

The description of a set of beliefs as "liberal" or "conservative" is a task that, in history, has changed in its requirements and protocol. We would now consider beliefs to be conservative that were at the onset of the American experiment considered liberal. Free markets, limited government, and federalism were ideas that were ridiculed throughout most of the civilized countries of the west up until recent history. On the other hand, what we would now consider to be modern liberalism can’t well be described in a similar fashion: Hobbes’ style of conservatism and its antidemocratic and autocratic impulses, while always the end result of collectivist tendencies such as modern liberalism, don’t translate completely into FDR’s style of governance and the Left’s penchant for social democracy (though Hobbes would appreciate the control that central planning entails). Modern liberalism, like modern conservatism, can be traced to a form of liberal thought. In modern liberalism’s case, though, it is rooted in continental European thought such as French Revolution radicalism and subsequent collectivist ideologies (devoted more to equality and a concept of "change") than in conservatism’s bedrock, more individualist Anglo Saxon thought. Thus, when referring to "conservative" and "liberal", the reference will be to the modern manifestations of such. President Hoover, in his public statements, talked out of both sides of his mouth. He followed very conservative speech with liberal qualifiers. For example, he followed a classical-liberal statement such as...
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