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WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN
WICE before Mr. Cobb came to New York The World had to deal with William J. Bryan as the Presidential candidate of the Democratic party. It had 'done this good-naturedly, never hurling epithets, branding silver leaders as robbers or accusing six million voters of being thieves. The more effectively for its moderation, it had conducted a campaign of fiscal education. When in 1908 Mr. Bryan was a third time nominated The World came reluctantly to his support. The silver issue had been settled and on the issue of imperialism The World sympathized with Mr. Bryan. Before the convention, however, it protested against his nomination-most effectively by circulating in its own columns and in a widely 'distributed pamphlet the "Map of Bryanism," showing the United States with those States which had been carried for Mr. Bryan in white, with the Republican States in black. The contrast between the political map of 1892 and the map of 1907 was startling, the Democratic territory in the latter year being not much wider than the solid South.
MR. BRYAN'S BLIND POOL
[August 30, 1906]
HAS ever an American citizen who was not a great military hero returned from abroad to such a free-will
'delirious greeting as Mr. Bryan's friends and followers have ordered for his home-coming?
Mr. Bryan wears no war-made laurels. No captives have been chained to his chariot wheels. Both his victories and his defeats have been those of peace. He holds neither civil nor military office. Yet every section of the country is sending its delegates to greet the man whom a great political organization has already chosen as its candidate for President of the United States in 1908. Madison Square Garden can hold only a fraction of the roaring thousands that will acclaim him tonight in a demonstration far more remarkable than that of ten years ago, when he made his first historical excursion into "the enemy's country" and was received at Madison Square Garden as no other candidate for President had ever been received.
The crowds of 1896 were swayed by curiosity and class hatred. They wished to see the square-jawed young man who by a single speech had lifted himself from obscurity to a Presidential nomination, and who purposed to crucify the arrogant money power upon its own cross of gold. Quite a different feeling will move the crowds in New York tonight. Mr. Bryan is no longer merely an oratorical curiosity in the metropolis, and whatever exists of the class hatred of 1896 appears in new forms. Other reasons must be sought for the enthusiasm of 1906.
What is the mystery of this extraordinary popularity? Some of it is undoubtedly personal. Mr. Bryan is a wholesome, hearty chap, full of red blood and the milk of human kindness. Like Kipling's Fuzzy Wuzzy he is a first-class fighting man, and most Americans like a man who is ready to battle for his beliefs, no matter whether he be right or wrong. Mr. Bryan has much of the personal charm which made Henry Clay the best-beloved man of his generation, but which could never make him President. And at a time when oratory is in a state of
'decay he is an exceptionally clever and forceful speaker. All this serves to account for the admiration of thousands of individuals, but does it explain why a great historical party persists, despite its terrible defeats under his leadership, in making him its candidate for President again. two years in advance of the nominating convention? Does it explain why all the factions of that party should frenziedly unite upon him as their standard-bearer and begin the campaign of 1908 in the summer of 1906?
It is difficult to find anything in Mr. Bryan's conduct to account for this spontaneous uprising. He has not changed in ten years, except, as he says, to become more radical. While he is willing to hold the silver issue in abeyance "for the present," he still holds to his old theories of bimetalism. Presumably, he still clings to all the idiosyncrasies of the 1896 campaign, including the threat to "reorganize" the Supreme Court of the United States. In addition he has advanced the most preposterous theory of government ownership that was ever promulgated for a democracy—a scheme of State Socialism absolutely revolutionary; a scheme that would add at least a million of new office-holders to the grand army of existing party workers; a scheme under which the National Government is to take over all trunk-line railroads, the State Governments the other railroads within their borders, the city governments the utilities within their territory, the people to proceed with the management of the most perplexing public served hodgepodge that the mind of man ever conjured with.
If the American people considered Bryan unsafe in 1896 and 1900, wherein is he 'safer now? In what respect is he a cooler counselor or a wiser leader than he was them? Yet State convention after State convention enthusiastically indorses him. Illinois, where he refused an indorsement unless he could control the National Committeemen, is not less effusive in its resolution than
Texas and Ohio is not to be outdone by either, while the anti-1 6-to-1 New York Democrats may be called on to exhaust rhetoric itself in proclaiming their devotion to the peerless leader.
This is an amazing state of affairs, and yet a state of affairs for which Mr. Bryan cannot be held responsible. He is asking for none of this adulation and for none of these pledges. He is merely taking what his fellow-partisans offer him, and the ambitious politician who could refust such testimonials of confidence would have to be more than human.
Yet what is the result? Are not the Democrats of the country, by their folly and stupidity, tying their own hands and closing the door of opportunity upon themselves? So far as it lies in their power, they have made Mr. Bryan their candidate for President in 1908 without knowing what issues may be before the country two years hence or what Mr. Bryan's attitude toward those issues will be. Must not every speech he makes from today until election day in 1908 necessarily be a campaign speech? Must not every word he utters inevitably commit his party? His overzealous followers have given him carte blanche to make the issues, frame the platform and shape the campaign. Indeed, they have given him a blank power of attorney to manage the affairs of the Democratic party for the next two years and commit it to any policy, idea, fad or mistake he pleases, and this in the name of politics. Is not "extraordinary" a mild word with which to describe such a situation?
There will be Congressional elections in every State of the Union this fall. Out of thirty-three Northern and Western States twenty-three will elect Governors. Only three of these States now have Democratic Governors and two of them are "accidental." In several of these twenty-three States there might be a fighting chance of Democratic success next November if the party were left
'free to take the fullest advantage of local issues. A similar situation exists in scores of Congressional districts. But will not the speeches which Mr. Bryan makes in New York tonight and elsewhere during the campaign inevitably tend to obscure local issues? His utterances will be in the nature of a Democratic platform. He himself will be an issue which the Republicans will seize upon with avidity. Where local conditions are against them they can appeal to the party loyalty of disaffected voters with this question: "Are you going to indorse Theodore Roosevelt, with his record of triumphant achievement, or are you going to follow William J. Bryan, the theorist and agitator?" Forcing the 1908 campaign gives the Republicans their chance to pit Roosevelt against Bryan in every district where there are disgruntled Republican voters. And if they elect a clear majority of the next House of Representatives in November, and the Western States which Mr. Bryan carried in 1896 go Republican again this year, what sort of position will the Democratic party be in? Must not this premature contest be scored as another Bryan defeat, to the further discredit of the party itself?
If Democratic politicians, knowing that Mr. Bryan cannot be elected, but actuated by a lofty devotion to principle which scorns success, or a success only of the remote future, insisted, nevertheless, on following him to rout, that would be magnificent, although it would not be politics. But this is not the altar upon which they are making their party sacrifice. Conventions and politicians alike are shouting for Mr. Bryan on the pretext that if nominated in 1908 he is sure to be elected. What could be more absurd?
Are all of them sincere, or have some honestly mistaken personal popularity for political strength? Nobody will deny Mr. Bryan's personal popularity. It is probably nowhere stronger than in his own State, where