The Great Depression was caused by misguided government policies adopted to avoid the "unsatisfactory conditions" signaled by the crash. The run-of-the-mill recession that ought to have followed the crash was magnified by the policies of the federal government during the administration of Herbert Hoover.
In a paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research published last August, Lee E. Ohanian examines a continuing mistake during the Hoover administration that helped transform difficulty into calamity. An economics professor at UCLA, Ohanian has written numerous papers on the Depression. In one earlier paper, he pinned the persistence of high unemployment on New Deal policies, "which raised real wages substantially above market-clearing levels, which in turn kept employment and output low."
IOW, Hoover messed up big time - and FDR continued the policies of Hoover for almost another decade, all the while blaming Hoover for the results of policies FDR himself perpetuated. A perfect example of Einstein's definition of insanity.
There wasn't a dime's worth of difference between Hoover's policies and FDR's - the two parties in 1932 offered no real choice. Just like in 2008, when GWB had no clue, Obama acted inscrutable, and John McCain plainly stated that he didn't understand economics. We were given no real choice - and then when in office, Obama suddenly starts acting like we had all voted to forget about the Constitution and the founding principles of our nation, grant him extraordinary powers, and make him president for life.
Conservatives, from Rush Limbaugh on down, used the thought of Sarah Palin as a clothespin on our nose and supported the Republican ticket in '08. And now McCain would like in '12 to prevent the Republican Party from nominating anyone else who knows anything at all about economics. We demand, and we will have, a choice in 2012. As the centenary looms of the last time the party failed not only to win but even to place, so too looms the issue of whether we find a choice, or merely an echo, on the Republican ticket in 2012.