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tween the Excise Commissioners and owners of low haunts who wished licenses. The president of a powerful semi-political association was by profession a burglar, the man who received the goods he stole was an alderman. Another alderman was elected while his hair was still short from a term in State Prison. A school trustee had been convicted of embezzlement, and was the associate of criminals. A prominent official in the Police Department was interested in disreputable houses and gambling saloons, and was backed politically by their proprietors.
BEATING THE MACHINE In the better wards the difficulty comes in drilling a little sense and energy into decent people: they either do not care to combine or else refuse to learn how. In one district we did at one time and for a considerable period get control of affairs and elect a set of almost ideal delegates and candidates to the various nominating and legislative bodies, and in the end took an absolutely commanding, although temporary, position in State and even in national politics.
This was done by the efforts of some twenty or thirty young fellows who devoted a large part of their time to thoroughly organizing and getting out the respectable vote. The moving spirits were all active, energetic men, with common-sense, whose motives were perfectly disinterested. Some went in from principle; others, doubtless, from good-fellowship or sheer love of the excitement always attendant upon a political struggle. Our success was due to our absolute freedom from caste spirit. Among our chief workers were a Columbia College professor, a crack oarsman from the same institution, an Irish quarryman, a master carpenter, a rich young merchant, the owner of a small cigar store, the editor of a little German newspaper, and a couple of employees from the post-office and custom-house, who worked directly against their own seeming interests. One of our important committees was composed of a prominent member of a Jewish synagogue, of the son of a noted Presbyterian clergyman, and of a young Catholic lawyer. We won some quite remarkable triumphs, for the first time in New York politics carrying primaries against the machine, and as the result of our most successful struggle completely revolutionizing the State Convention held to send delegates to the National Republican Convention of 1884, and returning to that body, for the first and only time it was ever done, a solid delegation of Independent Republicans. This was done, however, by sheer hard work on the part of a score or so of men; the mass of our good citizens, even after the victories which they had assisted in winning, understood nothing about how they were won. Many of them actually objected to organizing, apparently having a confused idea that we could always win by what one of their number called a “spontaneous uprising,” to which a quiet young fellow in our camp grimly responded that he had done a good deal of political work in his day, but that he never in his life worked so hard and so long as he did to get up the "spontaneous” movement in which we were then engaged.
CONCLUSIONS In conclusion, it may be accepted as a fact, however unpleasant, that if steady work and much attention to detail are required, ordinary citizens, to whom participation in politics is merely a disagreeable duty, will always be beaten by the organized army of politicians to whom it is both duty, business, and pleasure, and who are knit together and to outsiders by their social relations. On the other hand, average citizens do take a spasmodic interest in public affairs; and we should therefore so shape our governmental system that the action required by the voters should be as simple and direct as possible, and should not need to be taken any more often than is necessary.
Governmental power should be concentrated in the hands of a very few men, who would be so conspicuous that no citizen could help knowing all about them; and the elections should not come too frequently. Not one decent voter in ten will take the trouble annually to inform himself as to the character of the host of petty candidates to be balloted for, but he will be sure to know all about the mayor, controller, etc. It is not to his credit that we can only rely, and that without much certainty, upon his taking a spasmodic interest in the government that affects his own well being; but such is the case, and accordingly we ought, as far as possible, to have a system requiring on his part intermittent and not sustained action.
THE VICE-PRESIDENCY AND THE CAM
PAIGN OF 1896*
'HE Vice-President is an officer unique in his
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 Constitution—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 * Review of Reviews, September, 1896.
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 matter 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 to 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 minority party the second place, in the national executive. The man who received the greatest number of electoral votes was made President, and the man who received the second greatest number was made Vice-President, on a theory somewhat akin to that by which certain reformers hope to revolutionize our system of voting at the present day. In the early days, under the present Constitution, this system resulted in the