Roosevelt did indeed make a difference, though probably not the sort of difference for which the country had hoped. He started off on the wrong foot when, in his inaugural address, he blamed the Depression on "unscrupulous money changers." He said nothing about the role of the Fed's mismanagement and little about the follies of Congress that had contributed to the problem. As a result of his efforts, the economy would linger in depression for the rest of the decade. Adapting a phrase from 19th century writer Henry David Thoreau, Roosevelt famously declared in his address that, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." But as Dr. Hans Sennholz of Grove City College explains, it was FDR's policies to come that Americans had genuine reason to fear:
In his first 100 days, he swung hard at the profit order. Instead of clearing away the prosperity barriers erected by his predecessor, he built new ones of his own. He struck in every known way at the integrity of the U.S. dollar through quantitative increases and qualitative deterioration. He seized the people's gold holdings and subsequently devalued the dollar by 40 percent.
Frustrated and angered that Roosevelt had so quickly and thoroughly abandoned the platform on which he was elected, Director of the Bureau of the Budget Lewis W. Douglas resigned after only one year on the job. At Harvard University in May 1935, Douglas made it plain that America was facing a momentous choice:
Will we choose to subject ourselves — this great country — to the despotism of bureaucracy, controlling our every act, destroying what equality we have attained, reducing us eventually to the condition of impoverished slaves of the state? Or will we cling to the liberties for which man has struggled for more than a thousand years? It is important to understand the magnitude of the issue before us. ... If we do not elect to have a tyrannical, oppressive bureaucracy controlling our lives, destroying progress, depressing the standard of living ... then should it not be the function of the Federal government under a democracy to limit its activities to those which a democracy may adequately deal, such for example as national defense, maintaining law and order, protecting life and property, preventing dishonesty, and ... guarding the public against ... vested special interests?