General Question

Jeruba's avatar

Do you understand "New Deal" to mean a new bargain or a new hand of cards?

Asked by Jeruba (48496points) 2 weeks ago

I researched the expression a little and found that an advisor to FDR in 1933 had picked up the phrase, used by Mark Twain* in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889). It appears in a chapter called “Freemen,” which has an extraordinary satirical resonance with what we are seeing right now.

In I found a mention that the expression was a political slogan of Andrew Jackson’s in 1830–1835, well before Mark Twain used it, but I couldn’t corroborate that elsewhere.

What I don’t find is a restatement of the literal or metaphorical sense of the expression.

I always thought the expression meant a new bargain or agreement; but now I’m wondering if it means being dealt a fresh hand, as in a card game.

How do you understand it?

*Part of the pertinent passage follows, describing a (fictional) medieval political system; the whole chapter is wonderfully ironic in light of today’s political climate.

And now here I was, in a country where a right to say how the country should be governed was restricted to six persons in each thousand of its population. For the nine hundred and ninety-four to express dissatisfaction with the regnant system and propose to change it, would have made the whole six shudder as one man, it would have been so disloyal, so dishonorable, such putrid black treason. So to speak, I was become a stockholder in a corporation where nine hundred and ninety-four of the members furnished all the money and did all the work, and the other six elected themselves a permanent board of direction and took all the dividends. It seemed to me that what the nine hundred and ninety-four dupes needed was a new deal.

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16 Answers

Dutchess_III's avatar

If I’m playing cards it means a new deal.

With no other context I’ll think of Roosevelt and his “New Deal,” which aimed to put people back to work.

stanleybmanly's avatar

“Bargain”’further complicates things in that it can mean either an agreement or serve as a modifier on value. Personally, if were to bump into the words “new deal” simply slapped on a wall or piece of paper somewhere, my first inclination would amost certainly be to think “Roosevelt & the 30s”. Of course at the poker table is another matter. And it seems pretty likely to me that the expression almost certainly came from card games.

Jeruba's avatar

I am talking about how Roosevelt used it. Maybe I should have said Roosevelt instead of FDR.

The current use in politics is obviously an echo of Roosevelt’s expression. What I’m asking here is how do you understand his use of it? Not what he applied it to, but what the expression itself meant.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Oh! There is no question that the players in the game understood EXACTLY how he meant it. And he was adored by the masses and despised as a traitor to his class by the privileged, most of whom failed to understand that he was buying THEM decades before their heads must adorn pikes. As I said before, if Roosevelt were alive today, he’d still be President.

stanleybmanly's avatar

What I understood Roosevelt to mean was that it must fall upon the people with money to pull the country out of depression. Those people were caught off guard that time, but have methodically engineered the “deal” away from such heresy toward loaning the government money rather than paying their share. That way, they win on both ends. They pay too little and collect interest because of it.

janbb's avatar

I always understood it to mean a bargain or offer when used by FDR or AOC. If you were talking about a game of cards, I think you would need to say “deal a new hand” or “a new hand.”

raum's avatar

Double entendre.

Both an agreement
and a new beginning.

That the government would be implementing these new programs. Which would be a new beginning for many. Same with a new deal in a card game is another chance.

JLeslie's avatar

I agree with @raum.

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zenvelo's avatar

FDR’s “New Deal” was a reference back to Teddy Roosevelt’s “Square Deal”. As TR said, “All I ask is a square deal for every man. Give him a fair chance. Do not let him wrong any one, and do not let him be wronged.”

It’s not a new hand, but a new social contract.

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flutherother's avatar

What Roosevelt meant by the term must have been influenced by his advisor Stuart Chase who had written a book titled “A New Deal” advocating a reshaping of society along somewhat socialist lines. The New Deal therefore would mean a reworking of the social contract as @zenvelo says.

Zaku's avatar

A new agreement or arrangement.

Doesn’t “deal” essentially mean a specific sub-type of that anyway? That is, I don’t think the card meaning would exist without the more general meaning of the word.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I think it likely that the verb was around before the noun.

Dutchess_III's avatar

deal (v.) Middle English delen, from Old English dælan “to divide, distribute, separate;” hence “to share with others, bestow, dispense,” and also “take part in, have to do with,” from Proto-Germanic *dailjanan (source also of Old Saxon deljan, Old Frisian dela “to divide, distribute,” Middle Dutch, Dutch deelen, German teilen, Gothic dailjan), from PIE *dail- “to divide,” ‌‌perhaps a Northern Indo-European extended form of root *da- “to divide,” or a word from a substrate language. Meaning “to deliver (to another) as his share” is from c. 1300. Meaning “to distribute cards before a game” is from 1520s (the associated noun meaning “distribution of cards before a game” is from c. 1600). Hence colloquial deal (someone) in “include in an undertaking” (1942). To deal with “handle, act toward (in some way)” is attested from mid-15c., from the notion of “engage in mutual intercourse, have to do with;” in late 14c. the phrase also mean “have sexual intercourse with.” Related: Dealt; dealing.

deal (n.1) “a part or portion,” Middle English del, from from Old English dæl “a part of a whole, a share;” with qualification (great, etc.), “an extent, degree, quantity, amount,” from Proto-Germanic *dailaz (source also of Old Norse deild, Old Frisian del “part; juridical district,” Dutch deel, Old High German and ”

OK. That is very wierd. That is like, 4 times as much text as what I copied. Can someone ‘splain that?

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