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peror are powerless to stay it. America is not Germany. There can be little room for theorizing as to what the American spirit would be likely to do if it found itself trapped between a centralized government and a centralized plutocracy-the spirit of which Kipling sang:
That bids it flout the law it makes,
That bids it make the law it flouts;
The drumming guns-that have no doubts.
The greatness and glory of the American people have been achieved under a system of law that recognized no divine right in government. This nation has been built up on a system of law that properly distrusted too much government. It has been built up on a system of law that was buttressed in individual independence and individual responsibility. It has been built up on a system of law that defined crimes and punished the guilty, that recognized guilt as personal; not on a system of law that made government the tutor, the guardian, the special providence of every citizen. It has been built up on a system of law that made the Republic opportunity and left every man free to make the most of his life without let or hindrance from constituted authority. When it ceases to be that it is no longer the Republic.
The evils that have been developed under our institutions have come largely through a departure from the principles of our institutions. These evils cannot be remedied by centralizing imperial authority into the hands of a single individual, or by Prussianizing a free people, or by making government the prize of Plutocracy. Least of all can they be remedied by appealing from democracy to Cæsar, from the English law to the Roman law, which has been the inspiration of a thousand tyrants.
Of all of the enthusiastic followers of this new propaganda it is unlikely that one in a thousand ever studied
the Progressive platform in the light of human history, that one in a thousand ever studied it in the light of human experience. They are honest enough, they are sincere enough, they are well-meaning enough. They think they are widening the political opportunities of American manhood. In reality they are widening the opportunities of American plutocracy. Their whole movement is a wild plunge over a precipice.
We are suffering already from too much personal government, from too much privilege, from too much favoritism. We have not kept the faith with our own traditions. We have not kept the faith with our own institutions. The way out is not to rush headlong into centralization, despotism and plutocracy, but to return to first principles. The way out is to emancipate government from private interests, as Gov. Wilson has shown, not to shackle it to every dollar of incorporated capital in the country.
In this campaign Woodrow Wilson is the embodiment of the English law and the American theory of government. Theodore Roosevelt is the embodiment of the Roman law and the Prussian theory of government, with all that it implies. It is possible that this Republic was founded in error. It is possible that the Declaration of Independence was a mistake and the Constitution a blunder. It is possible that the Washingtons, the Frank lins, the Jeffersons, the Madisons, the Adamses, the Jacksons and the Lincolns were wrong, and that the Roosevelts, the Perkinses, the Johnsons, the Flinns, the Jane Addamses and the Munseys are right; but The World, for one, still holds to the faith of the fathers. It still clings to the great and original principles of free government which are the everlasting glory of the English-speaking peoples.
Long live the Republic!
A CHARTER OF INVISIBLE GOVERNMENT
[August 15, 1915]
THUS far the new Constitution of New York has been framed in general distrust of popular government.
It is put together on the theory that the State must be tied hand and foot for the next twenty years. The convention is not sitting as a Constitutional Convention, but as an infallible, omnipotent council whose decrees are to remain in force for two decades, regardless of consequences.
Nothing is to be left to the popular will which can be withheld from the popular will. The Legislature is to have no powers which can be wrested from the Legislature. New York is not to have a Constitution that is elastic, under which the Government of the State can be adapted to changing conditions. Everything is fixed and permanent. Ten million people are to be crowded into a political straitjacket and for twenty years the business of government must be shackled by the fears, the whims, the compromises, the selfish impulses and the reactionary theories of a little group of Republican leaders who are engaged in perpetrating organization politics and corporation privilege.
The convention is not seeking to give New York a Constitution under which the people can govern them. selves. It is giving New York a Constitution under which the people must submit to being governed in the way this convention thinks they ought to be governed.
Mr. Barnes is the only Republican leader who has the courage to avow his distrust of the proletariat, but that distrust appears in every act of the convention. The other leaders are not so frank or so indiscreet as Barnes, but they are with him in spirit. They do not want popular
government. They do not trust it and they are determined to have as little as possible. New York must take whatever measure they grudgingly give or fall back upon an antiquated Constitution under which the administration of State affairs has all but broken down.
We are not complaining because the convention has set its face against all the fads and vagaries of direct government which were bred of Western populism. We have no desire to see New York abandon the old landmarks and substitute the initiative, referendum and recall for representative government. What we complain of is that the Constitution now in process of construction at Albany is virtually a denial of representative government. It permits neither direct nor representative government, but substitutes the arbitrary rules of a Constitutional Convention for the will of the people during nearly two-thirds the life of a generation.
If the will of this convention, as now manifest, could be put into effect we venture to predict that New York would have the most corrupt and irresponsible government of any State in the Union. No Legislature could remedy the basic evils which the convention purposes to create or to perpetuate. No Governor, however honest, could cope with the monstrous political machine which this charter of invisible government undertakes to create.
For New York to adopt the kind of a Constitution that this reactionary convention is now framing would be to surrender itself into political bondage for twenty years.
THE OVERSHADOWING PRESIDENT
[Oct. 13, 1905]
HENRY WADE ROGERS, Dean of the Yale Law School, 'did not exaggerate in his Faneuil Hall speech the growing menace of centralized government in the United States.
The President already has too much power, as Dean Rogers says, and it is now proposed to confer more power upon the Executive by giving into his hands the right to regulate the earnings of $15,000,000,000 represented in the capitalization of the railways of the country.
Already he has power through his Secretary of Commerce to investigate the organization and management of any corporation or joint-stock company engaged in in terstate commerce. Through his subordinates he can examine the books, compel the testimony of witnesses and the production of documents. The information thus obtained is to be made public or not in the President's discretion. Through the agency of the Sherman law he can destroy all trusts and combinations organized or operating in restraint of trade. By means of the Interstate Commerce law he can punish the giver or taker of rebates and can prevent discriminations against shippers.
But the President is not satisfied with the Czar-like power which the Executive already holds over corporations. He is bending his energies to obtain legislation that will enable him to appoint a commission to fix railway rates when a given rate is challenged. This new rate is to take immediate effect and to remain in effect "unless and until" overturned by the courts. Moreover, he is urging an act to provide for the Federal regulation of life-insurance companies, with their $2,300,000,000 of assets and is also committed to Commissioner Garfield's plan for the licensing by the National Government of all corporations engaged in interstate commerce.
Dean Rogers reminds us "that there may be a man in the White House some time whose intentions will not be so good as those of Washington and Lincoln or Cleveland and Roosevelt." It is time the American people and their representatives in Congress gave intelligent consideration to that most important fact.
The railway officials who oppose the rate bill have