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cratic institutions being imperiled, I do not mean the danger of a sudden, grand and startling collapse, but I mean the danger of a gradual decay of those elements which are essential to their vitality. I have always been a firm believer in the excellence of democratic government-the government, as Abraham Lincoln defined it, of the people, by the people and for the people. It is a government of the people, inasmuch as in the people all sovereignty resides. It is a government by the people, inasmuch as the people make the laws and direct the conduct of public affairs through their servants chosen by them for those objects. It is a government for the people, inasmuch as public offices are instituted and charged with certain functions and endowed with certain powers to be administered solely for the service and benefit of the people, and for no other purpose. These are the vital requirements of democratic government. In the same measure as these requirements fail to be fullfilled-as any element of sovereignty passes away from the people, or as the making of the laws and the conduct of public affairs cease to be controlled by the people's will, or as the administration of the public offices is diverted from the purposes for which they have been instituted-that is to say, as the offices are used to serve ends other than the public benefit, or are entrusted to persons not apt to give to the people the best attainable service-in that measure democratic government fails.
It is said that democratic government is practically government through political parties. This can be true only in a limited sense. If political parties are what they ought to be-organizations of citizens caused by different currents of opinion as to principles of government or certain questions of public policy, and set on foot and put to the work of persuasion for the purpose of making this or that set of opinions prevail in the conduct of public affairs-they serve a legitimate end. But whenever they seek to divert the public offices, instituted solely for the service and benefit of the people, from their true purpose in order to use them for
their own service and benefit, to this extent turning the government through political parties into a government for political parties, they strike at one of the vital principles of democratic government. And in the same measure as they succeed in this, democratic government fails to be government for the people.
The appearance among us of American men and women who have fallen in love with the splendor of monarchical courts, and who also please themselves by imaginative imitations of aristocratic society, has from time to time called forth ingenious speculation as to whether the great democracy of the American Republic will not eventually be turned into a monarchy. I am convinced that, if there be any such danger at all in store for us, it will not come from such coteries of weak minds and impotent ambitions; but it might arise either from a failure of democratic government to afford the necessary protection to individual rights, to property, to public order and safety, so that society would turn for that protection to a strong man, or from democratic government becoming an instrument of private cupidity and falling into the hands of the chief of an organization looking for plunder.
There has actually been such a monarchy on a small scale in existence among us. I have seen it in operation, and so have many of my hearers. We have witnessed in the greatest city of the United States one man wielding the powers of municipal government like a monarch, in some respects like an absolute monarch, too. Standing at the head of a pretended political organization ruled by him with autocratic power, he made appointments and dismissals in the public service. of the city by merely issuing his orders. He determined what candidates for office should within his dominion be submitted to the popular vote, and his followers with prompt obedience enforced his pleasure. He gave audience to citizens having business with the municipal government, and either granted or refused their petitions like a sovereign. He ordered his agents in the Legislature of the State to pass this bill or to defeat the
other bill, and it was done. Citizens became accustomed to approach him as supplicants approach a king. Aside from the public taxes for his municipal government he levied a separate revenue, the payment of which could not be refused without danger-a sort of civil list, partly under the euphonious title of "campaign funds," partly without any euphony-for the use of which he never thought of accounting. He grew rich in a marvelously short time, and when a popular uprising against his rule broke out which threatened to become too formidable to resist, he abdicated and withdrew to his estates.
This was monarchy-not, indeed, a monarchy surrounded by the pomp of a court of nobles with ancient names, escutcheons and gold lace, and ribbons and stars and crosses rather a very vulgar sort of monarchy whose vassals and high dignitaries were a Mayor and police commissioners and heads of municipal departments and district leaders and ward politicians with names and antecedents and manners and social standing anything but aristocratic-but a monarchy for all that, with most of the essential attributes. To be sure the title of this monarch was not that of king, but that of "Boss" --but a boss clad with regal power which he exercised with arbitrary authority until, like some French kings, he had to yield to a popular upheaval amounting to a revolution. Such things happened, as everyone acquainted with the history of Tammany Hall knows, in this very Republic; and if we speculate upon the manner in which monarchy-not in name but in fact—may rise up among us, here is the living example.
The development of political bossism into something like actual monarchy is, to be sure, an extreme case. But all political bossism has a tendency in that direction. When in a political party the selfish element obtains controlling influence it will, for mutual benefit, naturally seek to organize itself into what we call a ma chine; and machine rule will usually, for the more cer tain attainment of its selfish ends through united and well regulated action, drift into more or less irrespon
sible one-man rule-the one man to rule the machine for its and his benefit, to rule through the machine the party organization, and to rule through the party organization, as the case may be, the municipality or the State. And this rule he does not exercise by bringing his fellow-citizens, through persuasion, to his own way of thinking, if indeed he have any, with regard to principles or politics, or measures touching the public interest, but by distributing among the selfish politicians composing his organized corps of mercenaries, in the true feudal fashion, as rewards for services rendered, or as inducements for services to be rendered, things of value, such as public offices with their emoluments and opportunities, which things of value do not belong to him but to the public-he doling them out anong his henchmen, not for the benefit of the public but for his and their own.
How far the aspirations of bossism, thus established, are already reaching, found recently a curious illustration in the newspaper report that some of the State bosses, not content with their local autocracy, met together in conference to agree upon certain persons to be put forward as candidates for the Presidency of the United States-just as in the old times of the German Empire the princes wearing the high dignity and power of "Electors" met together to agree upon a selection for the imperial crown. Equally striking was another piece of news going through the press, that when the boss of one State was hard pressed in an election by an uprising of citizens impudently wishing to govern themselves, the boss of another State, although not of the same party, but inspired by a feeling of common interest and of comradeship, sent a strong troop of his own experienced and fearless repeaters to aid the struggling brother boss at the polls-just as the Czar of Russia in 1849, when the Emperor of Austria was in danger from the Hungarian revolutionists, sent his hard pressed brother-Emperor a Russian army to help him. subdue the insurgent subjects and save the monarchical authority. Even if these stories had been wholly in
vented by newspaper reporters, it would be a significant sign of the times that they were generally believed as entirely natural occurrences. And as to their naturalness, given the premises, there can be no doubt.
Do you ask how such utterly undemocratic developments can become possible in a Republic like ours? Simply by the existence of the spoils system, which allows that which belongs to the public, especially the public offices, to be diverted from public to private use. Without that system, political bossism, in the form at least in which we know it, would not be possible. With that system and all its demoralizing influences kept alive in our politics, bossism will not only continue to exist in spite of occasional reverses, but it will propagate itself from State to State and bring forth results which, if predicted now, would severely tax popular credulity. Fortunately, with an intelligent and vigorous people like ours, the growth and recognition of such an evil usually bring with them the recognition of the remedy. As the spoils system evolved its most characteristic and most undemocratic products, the machine and the boss, to more and more conspicuous power, and the corrupt, rapacious and debasing tyranny of that power was more and more widely felt, the people in constantly widening circles turned with a just instinct to the true corrective. It is a remarkable fact that Civil Service Reform, which twenty years ago struggled, apparently in vain, to win the favorable attention of the great mass of citizens, has of late years marvelously risen in popular interest. The reason is that the popular intellect, stimulated by disgust with existing abuses and by apprehension of worse things to come, began to see in Civil Service Reform the only effective method to destroy the spoils system which was robbing, oppressing and degrading them-that is, the only effective method to restore the public offices to the service of the public ends for which they were originally instituted, and make the government in this sense once more what it was designed to be, a government, not for the benefit of the politicians, or of machines,