The Post-War Liberal Consensus

Little more than a decade after the Great Depression had ended, the political climate in America had undergone a nearly complete transformation. Victory over the Axis Powers in WWII and a booming economy at home had generated new confidence in capitalism and the belief that America possessed a special destiny among nations.  Liberals believed that American capitalism was a revolutionary force for social change, at home and around the world. The leftists had been discredited. True, we had suffered through a terrible depression, but we had learned our lesson: the government needed to protect people's savings and provide Social Security for all, but huge jobs programs were not needed. Redistribution of income was not necessary to end social conflict.

Instead, new economic theories suggested that the peaks and valleys of the economic cycle could be smoothed over and steady economic growth guaranteed through government regulation of fiscal policy. There would be no more depressions; full employment could be achieved and sustained! Wages would rise with profits! Economic growth would eventually lift the working class into the middle class. Society could be perfected! The soldiers returning home from war need only re-dedicate themselves to the American way taught by Ben Franklin: work hard, act sensibly, be polite, speak well, be popular, and you too can make capitalism work for you. An endless line of sparkling Chevys would stream out of the city on brand new highways, and everyone would be headed to a home of their own in that new utopia- the suburbs.