Depression era Americans were optimistic, pro-fascism
PEW has published a write-up of its survey results from 1936 and 1937 in an effort to determine whether Americans are reacting differently to economic hardship now than they did in the Great Depression. Somewhat, says Pew:[D]espite their far higher and longer-lasting record of unemployment, Depression-era Americans remained hopeful for the future. About half (50%) expected general business conditions to improve over the next six months, while only 29% expected a worsening. And fully 60% thought that opportunities for getting ahead were better (45%) or at least as good (15%) as in their father's day.Today's public is far gloomier about the economic outlook: Only 35% in an October Pew Research Center survey expected better economic conditions by October 2011, while 16% expected a still weaker economy.Meanwhile, as the chart at right illustrates, Depression-era voters were far more disposed to big government spending measures than they are today. Imagine the reaction among the Tea Party, for instance, if Barack Obama had his way and spent billions of taxpayer dollars in an effort to control venereal disease. Don't tread on me, Mr President!Americans in the Depression also looked upon new regulation quite favourably. A striking 70% thought government should limit or prohibit child labour. But even back then a plurality of respondents opposed bank nationalisation. But while Pew says that voter views were broadly socialistic in the 1930s, its surveys indicate where American preferences actually fell:[W]hen asked if they had to make the choice would they opt for fascism or communism, the public expressed a substantial preference for fascism (39%) over communism (25%), while 36% offered no opinion. (When the question was phrased in terms of living under a German- versus a Russian-type government, the public showed a similar preference for the German model.It's a fascinating post. Go read the whole thing.