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THE THREE VICE-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES
AND WHAT THEY REPRESENT.
BY THEODORE ROOSEVELT.
character and functions, or, to speak more properly, in his want of functions while he remains Vice-President, and in his possibility of at any moment ceasing to be a functionless official and becoming the head of the whole nation. There is no corresponding position in any constitutional government.
Perhaps the nearest analogue is the heir apparent in a monarchy. Neither the French President nor the British Prime Minister has a substitute, ready at any moment to take his place, but exercising scarcely any authority until his place is taken. The history of such an office is interesting, and the personality of the incumbent for the time being may at any moment become of vast importance.
The founders of our government–the men who did far more than draw up the Declaration of Independence, for they put forth the national constitu tion—in many respects builded very wisely of set purpose. In some cases they built wiser than they knew. In yet other instances they failed entirely to achieve objects for which they had endeavored to provide by a most elaborate and ingenious governmental arrangement. They distrusted what would now be called pure democracy, and they dreaded what we would now call party government.
Their distrust of Democracy induced them to construct the electoral college for the choice of a President, the original idea being that the people should elect their best and wisest men who in turn should, untrammeled by outside pressure, elect a president. As a inatter of fact the functions of the electorate have now by time and custom become of little more importance than those of so many letter carriers. They deliver the electoral votes of their states just as a letter carrier delivers his mail. But in the presidential contest this year it may be we shall see a partial return of the ideals of the men of 1789; for some of the electors on the Bryan-SewallWatson ticket may exercise a choice between the vice-presidential candidates.
The distrust felt by the founders of the constitution for party government took shape in the scheme to provide that the majority party should have the foremost place, and the ininority party the second place, in the national executive. The man who received the greatest number of electoral votes was made President, and the
who received the second greatest number was made VicePresident, on a theory somewhat akin to that by which certain reformers hope to revolutionize our
HON. GARRET A. HOBART. From his latest photograph, by Davis & Sanford, New York.
system of voting at the present day. In the early days under the present constitution this system resulted in the choice of Washington for President and of his antitype Jefferson as Vice-President, the combination being about as incongruous as if we should now see McKinley President and either Bryan or Watson Vice President. Even in theory such an arrangement is very bad, because under it the Vice President might readily be, and as a matter of fact was, a man utterly opposed to all the principles to which the President was devoted, so that the arrangement provided in the event of the death of the President, not for a succession, but for a revolution. The system was very soon dropped, and each party nominated its own candidates for both
corporal's guard of supporters in the nation, and who proceeded to oppose all the measures of the immense majority of those who elected him.
A somewhat similar instance was afforded in the case of Lincoln and Johnson. Johnson was put on the ticket largely for geographical reasons, and on the death of Lincoln he tried to reverse the policy of the party which had put him in office. An in. stance of an entirely different kind is afforded by Garfield and Arthur. The differences between these two party leaders were mainly merely factional. Each stood squarely on the platform of the party, and all the principles advocated by one were advocated by the other; yet the death of Garfield meant a complete overturn in the personnel of the upper
positions. But it was many years before all the members of the electoral college of one party felt obliged to cast the same votes for both President and Vice-President, and consequently there was a good deal of scrambling and shifting in taking the vote. When, however, the parties had crystallized into Democratic and Whig, a score of years after the disappearance of the Federalists, the system of party voting also crystallized. Each party then as a rule nominated one man for President and one for Vice President, these being voted for throughout the nation. This system in turn speedily produced strange results, some of which remain to this day. There are and must be in every party factions. The victorious faction may crush out and destroy the others, or it may try to propitiate at least its most formidable rival. In consequence the custom grew of offering the vice-presidency as a consolation prize, to be given in many cases to the very men who were most bitterly opposed to the nomination of the successful candidate for President. Sometimes this consolation prize was awarded for geographical reasons, sometimes to bring into the party men who on points of principle might split away because of the principles of the presidential candidate himself, and at other times it was awarded for merely factional reasons to some faction which did not differ in the least from the dominant faction in matters of principle, but had very decided views on the question of offices.
The presidency being all important, and the vicepresidency of comparatively little note, the entire strength of the contending factions is spent in the conflict over the first, and very often a man who is most anxious to take the first place will not take the second, preferring some other political position. It has thus frequently happened that the two candidates have been totally dissimilar in character and even in party principle, though both running on the same ticket. Very odd results have followed in more than one instance.
A striking illustration of the evils sometimes springing from this system is afforded by what befel the Whigs after the election and death of the elder Harrison. Translated into the terms of the politics of continental Europe of to day, Harrison's adherents represented a union between the right and the extreme left against the centre. That is, the regular Whigs who formed the bulk of his supporters were supplemented by a small body of extremists who in their political principles were even more alien to the Whigs than were the bulk of the regular Democrats, but who themselves hated these regular Democrats with the peculiar ferocity so often felt by the extremists for the man who goes far, but not quite far enough. In consequence the President represented Whig principles, the Vice-President represented a rather extreme form of the very principles to which the Whigs were most opposed. The result was that when Harrison died the preși dency fell into the hands of a man who had but a
Republican efficials, because Arthur had been nominated expressly to placate the group of party leaders who most objected to the nomination of Garfield. Arthur made a very good President, but the bitterness caused by his succession to power nearly tore the party in twain. It will be noted that most of these evils arise from the fact that the VicePresident under ordinary circumstances posssesses so little real power. He presides over the Senate and he has in Washington a position of marked social importance, but his political weight as VicePresident is almost nil. There is always a chance that he may become President. As this is only a chance it seems quite impossible to persuade politi. cians to give it proper weight. This certainly does not seem right. The Vice-President should so far as possible represent the same views and principles which have secured the nomination and election of the President, and he should be a man standing well in the councils of the party, trusted by his fellow party leaders, and able in the event of any accident