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new Cabinet is necessarily experimental. Even Mr. Bryan has had no administrative training. The only responsible public office he ever held was that of Representative in Congress from a Nebraska district. Mr. McReynolds, who is to be Attorney-General, and Mr. Lane, who is to be Secretary of the Interior, are the only two men who have had actual experience in the administration of the affairs of a National Government.
Of the Cabinet as a whole it might be said that only Mr. Bryan and Mr. Lane had national reputations not 'dependent upon the offices to which they have been appointed. This Cabinet, therefore, has to be taken largely on trust, and its harmony and success will hinge upon Mr. Wilson's judgment in the selection of men of whom the country has only casual if any acquaintance.
This is important or unimportant according to circumstances. No Cabinet ever wrecked the Administration of a truly great President. No Cabinet ever saved the Administration of a mediocre President. The genius of a Daniel Webster could not make a Tyler anything but a Tyler. The corruption of a Cameron and the intrigues of a Chase could not shake public confidence in the leadership of Abraham Lincoln.
But of vastly greater moment that any individual in the Cabinet, or all of them combined, is the method by which the Cabinet was obviously organized. Here is the first concrete example of Mr. Wilson's attitude toward the Presidency-his first official interpretation of his office and duties.
Whether strong or weak in its various elements, this is no Cabinet of political trade and barter. It was fashioned by no political boss. It was fashioned for no political boss. It was fashioned to placate neither sordid political interests nor sordid financial interests. Every member stands on his own merits, as Woodrow Wilson sees these merits. His only concessions are concessions
to locality and geography. It is no Cabinet of corporation lawyers. It is no Cabinet of hack politicians or machine henchmen. It is a Cabinet of public servants, and appointed because the President who selects them believes that they are qualified for their work.
A President capable of performing his task in this spirit may sometimes go astray in his judgment of man, but he has given to the country a convincing proof of his political sincerity.
The dynamic fact of the Wilson Administration is that the American people have at the head of their Government a man who is as honest intellectually as all Presidents have been honest morally. This man is not only, honest intellectually, but he has a trained mind that is accustomed to dealing with complicated questions. He knows how to think and he knows how to translate his thought into action. He knows how to explain himself and to interpret himself.
Back of it all he is a 'democrat-not a partisan Democrat, but a democrat with ideas and ideals. He is a 'democrat who believes in popular institutions. He is a 'democrat who has faith in the capacity of the people for self-government He is a 'democrat who is in sympathy with the aims and aspirations of the great body of his fellow-countrymen who ask no favor of any government, but are determined that it shall not be used by private interests as an instrument of oppression.
"It is not the duty of the Government to support the people, but the duty of the people to support their Government," said Grover Cleveland. Here is an instance in which it is pre-eminently the duty of the American people to support the Administration that is in control of their Government, as long as that Administration can show itself worthy of confidence. We do not mean Democrats alone. Least of all do we mean Democratic politicians alone. We mean the great rank and file of the
American people, regardless of party, who alone pay the penalty for evil government, and whose children and whose children's children may pay the penalty for generations to come if the Wilson Administration is shipwrecked.
Mr. Wilson will make mistakes. His Administration may fail to accomplish all that is expected of it, as most Administrations have failed, for this is a government by men and not by gods. But if the American people give to Mr. Wilson the support that he has earned, we do not believe that he will fail in the greater achievements to which he is pledged.
If he should fail, they to that extent will have failed with him. They will have proved that their institutions have broken down. They will have proved that they are no longer competent to work the machinery of government under which a weak and almost defenseless confederation of colonies has grown into the greatest of nations. They will have proved the decadence of their own political capacities.
The failure may be Woodrow Wilson's failure, but the disaster will be the disaster of American democracy.
A NEW AMERICAN DOCTRINE
[December 3, 1913]
EXACTLY ninety years to a day after James Monroe in a message to Congress defined the Monroe doctrine, Woodrow Wilson in an address to Congress defined the Wilson Doctrine.
The former was designed to protect the Latin-American Republics from European colonization. The latter is designed to save these Republics from recurrent anarchy. The rule of conduct laid down by the President
for the future guidance of all Latin-American countries within the sphere of the Monroe Doctrine is embodied in these words:
There can be no certain prospect of peace in America until Gen. Huerta has surrendered his usurped authority in Mexico; until it is understood on all hands, indeed, that such pretended governments will not be countenanced or dealt with by the Government of the United States. We are the friends of constitutional government in America. We are more than its friends; we are its champions; because in no other way can our neighbors, to whom we wish in every way to make proof of our friendship, work out their own development in peace and liberty.
As the Monroe Doctrine was aimed at the Holy Alliance, so the Wilson Doctrine is aimed at the professional revolutionists, the corrupting concessionaires and the corrupt dictators of all Latin America. If language means anything, it means that so far as this Administration is concerned the United States will not recognize the constitutional authority of Latin-American governments established by usurpation without the free consent of the unintimidated inhabitants thereof.
It is a bold doctrine and a radical doctrine. Whether it ever gains the force and universal acceptance of the Monroe Doctrine must depend upon the attitude of subsequent Administrations. Nevertheless, the President has pointed the way to ultimate stability in Latin-American affairs, and his doctrine is a natural corollary of the Monroe Doctrine. Obligations cannot remain forever jughandled. If the United States is to guarantee the integrity of Latin-American countries, they must in turn maintain a kind of government that will not forever threaten peaceful relations between the United States and the rest of the civilized world. If we are to protect their territory, it is right that we should demand that they protect their own institutions.
Aside from the President's references to the situation in Mexico, the most sensational recommendation in his address relates to the nomination of candidates for Presi'dent. Mr. Wilson urges a Presidential primary law which will abolish the national nominating convention and bring about the selection of candidates for President by a direct vote. He expresses the hope that this question "can be handled promptly and without serious controversy." He could hardly have suggested a subject less likely to be handled promptly or more certain to result in serious controversy.
It is no easy matter, even if everybody were agreed, to enact by fiat of Congress a substitute for the national nominating convention. The convention is its own ancestor. Nobody created it. It is a slow and gradual evolution, and became an institution by common consent. It knows no law except its own laws. It knows no rules except its own rules. Yet on the whole it has proved one of the most extraordinary products of American political genius.
The tide is now running as strongly against the convention as it ran against the Congressional caucus which was its predecessor. The national convention is probably doomed; yet all that is best in it can easily be saved if the States themselves will enact preferential-primary laws to control the delegates to national conventions. Such a method of nomination would be more elastic than a Presidential primary, and it would maintain those admirable elements of compromise which gave to the United States two such Presidents as Abraham Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson.
In most conservative language Mr. Wilson has 'de livered a radical address to Congress, with the promise of further radical recommendations yet to come. But all of it is the radicalism of a highly-matured and well-ordered mind, with clear purposes and firm basic principles.