« PreviousContinue »
W. E. FOSTER,
Author of "The Literature of Civil-Service Reform in the United States."
Ν Ο Τ Ε.
The following study of some of the distinguishing features of the civil-service reform movement was undertaken by the writer, chiefly for the purpose of defining the grounds of his own belief. It has been thought by the executive committee of the Boston Civil-Service Reform Association that its publication would be of service to others who may be studying the subject. In the hope that it may contribute, in some degree, to a more intelligent consideration of the subject, the writer has consented to its publication.
THE REFORM IS NOT UNDEMOCRATIC.
It has been claimed that the proposed reform of the civil service is undemocratic. Considering the origin of our government, and the manifest intent of the founders of the republic to make this “ a government of the people, by the people, for the people,” this point becomes of the highest importance. Is it not the spoils system which is undemocratic, rather than the proposed reform? The very conception of a democracy necessitates a government
66 for the people.” Yet how can that government be so described, in which the civil service is regarded not as a service for the public, but as a source of emolument and gain to a few ? When the end in view is not the advancement of the public interest, but the chance of strengthening one's seif, rewarding one's party friends, and punishing one's party opponents, the system is one of private patronage, and not public service.
The Nation well says: “Few persons are aware to what an extent patronage has perverted free institutions and created a governing class or caste exercising irresponsible power under republican forms. Patronage controls conventions, conventions make nominations, the nominees control patronage, and so the circle is complete. It is this which goes by the name of the machine. tem is subversive of free government, in the sense that free government implies the unbiassed rule of the majority.”
Not only is the result of this system the introduction of an aristocratic principle into what was meant to be a democratic republic, but it brings in, through the agency
1 According to a Supreme Court ruling “ The theory of our government is, that all public stations are trusts." — 21 Wallace, 450.