« PreviousContinue »
ing the recall of Judges, he would submit constitutional questions themselves to popular vote. As he expresses it, "The decision of a State court on a constitutional question should be subject to revision by the people of the State":
If any considerable number of the people feel that the decision is in defiance of justice, they should be given the right by petition to bring before the voters at some subsequent election, special or otherwise, as might be decided, and after the fullest opportunity for deliberation and debate, the question whether or not the Judges' interpretation of the Constitution is to be sustained. If it is sustained, well and good. If not, then the popular verdict is to be accepted as final, the decision is to be treated as reversed and the construction of the Constitution definitely decided-subject only to action by the Supreme Court of the United States.
In other words, the majority is to enact the laws through the initiative and referendum, and the majority is to interpret the laws through another initiative and referendum. If a State court undertakes to protect the rights of a minority, if a State court ventures to say that an act of the majority transcends the Constitution or transgresses against human rights and human liberties, the Judge may be recalled, and the decision reversed by the majority which enacted the law.
In these circumstances there would be no State Constitution except from day to day. No man would have any stable guarantee that the majority would respect his rights and no man would know today what his constitutional rights might be tomorrow. Every instrument that makes for stability of government would have been crippled or destroyed. State government would become a matter of mob-rule—a quiet, orderly mob, prehaps, but a. mob that was lawless and unrestrained and responsible only to itself for its actions.
We shall pay Mr. Roosevelt the compliment of saying that we do not think he believes a word of the nonsense
that he uttered in his Columbus speech. He is too experienced, he is too well informed, he has been too long a student of government to believe in such folly.
He knows, too, that when he solemnly asserts that “I believe in pure democracy" he professes to believe in something that has been a failure from the dawn of history. Pure democracy has never succeeded in maintaining itself, because pure democracy always carries the germ of pure 'despotism, pure tyranny. No government has a right to live which does not provide means for protecting the weak from the strong, whether this weakness results from want of numbers or want of money or want of brute strength.
Mr. Roosevelt's speech is the harangue of the skilful and unscrupulous agitator to all the elements of political unrest. It is the appeal of the third-term candidate who feels that he must out-demagogue all other demagogues in order to convince the so-called "Progressives" that he alone is the true radical. It is the argument of cunning to ignorance.
We cannot think it will have any influence upon the actions of the Ohio Constitutional Convention, or that it was intended to exert any influence. Mr. Roosevelt's Charter of Demagogism, his adroit attack upon the Sherman Anti-Trust law, his approval of the Gary-Perkins scheme of Government regulation of prices and his veiled assault upon Mr. Taft as one of those "eminent lawyers who more or less frankly disbelieve in our entire American system of Government"—this speech was not to the Columbus Convention but to the Chicago Convention next June.
It is not a treatise on government but a treatise on Theodore Roosevelt-showing, as it does, how far he is willing to travel along the road of demagogy in order to win another nomination for President.
"TO THE Y. M. C. A."
[April 25, 1915]
WE are indebted to Mr. Roosevelt for a new theory, of the ethics of secret corporation contributions to political campaign funds-indeed, for a new theory of the ethics of secret contributions of all kinds to such funds and to similar funds.
In his testimony at Syracuse, Mr. Roosevelt made it plain that "there was no more connection between business and politics in the contribution of corporations to my campaign in 1904 than in contributions to the Y. M. C. A."
Everybody acquainted with Wall Street knows how easy it is to raise $3,000,000 for Y. M. C. A. purposes down there between June and November every fourth year. Anybody who knew the late E. H. Harriman can appreciate the enthusiasm with which that gentleman, after a surreptitious visit to the White House at the invitation of a Republican President managing his own campaign, would hustle back to New York to gather an additional $265,000 to be poured into the Y. M. C. A. a few days before election. Such a person can also understand the honest pride with which Mr. Harriman boasted that by means of this money "at least 50,000 votes were turned in the city of New York alone, making a difference of 100,000 votes in the general result."
These were doubtless Y. M. C. A. votes, but there was "no connection between business and politics" when Mr. Harriman "turned" them after his visit to Mr. Roosevelt. Men like Mr. Harriman never recognize a connection between business and politics, and it is proper for everybody to contribute to a Roosevelt Y. M. C. A. campaign fund, except the Standard Oil Company, which
is barred by strict orders to Cortelyou, which some careless subordinate fails to enforce.
We know now that in the glad old days when the saloon-keepers, the gamblers and the 'dive-keepers poured their campaign contributions into the coffers of Tammany Hall they were giving money to the Y. M. C. A. We know, too, that when the casual street-walker on Sixth Avenue slipped a $5 bill into the hand of the plain-clothes man she was giving it to the Y. M. C. A. Presumably the plain-clothes man appreciated the spirit of it as much as he appreciated the spirit of the larger contribution from the Raines law hotel-keeper. At least that is the ethical attitude which he should have taken toward it.
It is evident that most of the corrupt practice legislation that has been enacted as a result of the Roosevelt campaign fund scandal in 1904 is wrong in spirit and in purpose. Why should the Government sternly forbid banks and corporations to contribute money to the Y. M. C. A.? Why also should it enforce pitiless publicity in order that such contributions may be detected if they are made? And why, too, should these philanthropic contributions from corporations so suddenly have dwindled after this legislation was enacted?
Little wonder that Mr. Roosevelt was somewhat out of sympathy with Mr. Hughes, who drafted and carried through the first important laws that checked the stream of Wall Street contributions to the political Y. M. C. A. And how Quay and Hanna would have enjoyed the Roosevelt testimony! They were even more successful than Mr. Roosevelt in compelling the corporations to give up to the Y. M. C. A., but lacking "the root of righteousness," they cynically regarded the process as "frying the fat."
[January 7, 1919]
THE unexpected announcement of Mr. Roosevelt's sudden death was a shock to the entire country. Although it had been known for a long time that his physical con'dition left much to be desired, there was nothing to indicate that he was nearing the end of his extraordinary career, or even that years of still vigorous activity were not before him.
Next to Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt was easily the most versatile of American Presidents. Next to Andrew Jackson, he was easily the most dynamic. Of all Presidents he had the most exuberant joy of living and the widest range of unrestrained enthusiasms.
What Mr. Roosevelt's place will be in history time alone can tell. It certainly cannot be fixed with any certainty of accuracy and precision by the generation which shared in all the passions and controversies of the period in which he was one of the towering leaders of political thought and action. It is by no means improbable that the impartial historian of a later day will determine that Mr. Roosevelt's greatest public service was rendered during his first Administration as President when he set out to demonstrate that the Government of the United States was more powerful than any aggregation of capital or than all the aggregations of capital that were united by a common interest to exploit the country.
There was most acute need of this service, and it could have been successfully undertaken only by a Republican of Mr. Roosevelt's affiliations and temperament who could literally choke the reactionary leadership of his party into submission to this vitally essential policy. The United States was probably never nearer to a social revo