people may rage and storm over some bill that has been passed or turned down, but the individual members of the legislature are shielded from blame, by the simple fact that each member is safely lost in the shuffle. In a legislative body with sixteen members, the newspapers would publish the roll calls on all important bills and the people would have a clear picture of the kind of man who was representing them and the way he was behaving.

"Third. The proposition would make the legislature more responsive and obedient to public opinion.

"Fourth. A sixteen-member legislature would be harder to corrupt. This also contradicts first impressions. There are many who believe that the more people there are to pass upon a measure, the harder it is to pass a bill by bribery. Just the reverse is true. The more conspicuous a man is before the public, and the more clearly his responsibility is appreciated by the people, the harder it is for him to go wrong. Turn the limelight strong upon a man and make him feel that he is performing before a big and important audience, and he will be hard to corrupt. Light is as salutary in politics as in hygiene.

"What reason is there, may I sk, for adhering to antiquated methods in conducting the great business of the State, when in every other department of human activity, newer, more efficient and more economical methods, have been and are constantly being adopted?

"Reasonable conservatism is a good thing, but let it be progressive conservatism. Let us adopt, in the management of the public business, the progressive policies that every other big business is adopting in the conduct of its affairs.

"As I have already said, I am not advocating at this time the adoption of a commission form of government for the State, but the adoption of a small, one-house legislature, retaining the present separation of legislative, executive, and judicial powers. If this step shall prove successful, we may then, if necessary, consider further changes.

"I have not attempted to hurry the people of my State into the adoption of any proposition. I have asked them to take it into consideration and discuss it for the next two years. I do not want to make it a party issue. I want it discussed and acted upon as an economic question after full and fair discussion by the men and women of all parties. I believe that such an amendment to our constitution will be submitted and adopted within the next few years, and that it will give to the people that which they never had before in any true sense-a legislature that is in a true sense representative and one which will be quickly responsive to the will of the electorate and accountable to the public in the most exacting sense."




(Reprinted in part from "The Outlook" July 17, 1909, by permission)


Do you know that ours is the only habitually misgoverned democracy? Other democracies, Canada and the English, French and German cities, are generally well-governed, many of them splendidly governed. Their councils and legislatures stay clean for decades automatically without need for public uprisings to clean them out. True they sometimes suffer from graft but it is 1 cal, haphazard and unorganized like graft in business life. But with us misgovernment is universal and ever-present. Every State and every City is constantly at war with it. The brand-new City of Gary begins to grapple with it as soon as there is an election. And the success of the forces of righteousnes is always temporary like sweeping back flooding water with a broom. We say truly "A reform

administration is never re-elected." Good administration is actually abnormal in American cities and states. Mal-administration is the normal.

This condition, unique among democracies, indicates the existence of some peculiarity in our system of government as the underlying cause.


Blind Voting

Starting at the broad base of our structure, the voters, we notice one unique phenomenon which is so familiar to us that we usually overlook it entirely that is our habit of voting blindly. Of course intelligent citizens do not vote without knowing what they are doing. Oh, no! You, Mr. Reader, for instance, you vote intelligently always! Of course you do! But whom did you vote for for Surrogate last time? You don't know? Well then, whom did you support for State Auditor? For State Treasurer? For Clerk of the Court? For Supreme Court Judge? And who is your Alderman? Who represents your district at the State Capitol? Name, please, all the candidates you voted for at the last election. Of course you know the President and the Governor and the Mayor, but there was a long list of minor officers beside. Unless you are active in politics I fear you flunk this examination. If your ballot had by a printer's error omitted the "State Comptroller" entirely, you would probably not have missed it. You ignored nine-tenths of your ballot, voting for those you did know about and casting a straight party ticket for the rest, not because of party loyalty, but because you did not know of anything better to do. You need not feel ashamed of it. Your neighbors all did the same; ex-President Eliot of Harvard, the "ideal citizen," confessed in a public address recently, that he did it, too. It is a typical and universal American attitude. We all vote blindly. Philadelphia has even elected imaginary men. The intelligence of the community is not at work on any of the minor offices on the ballot. The average American citizen never casts a completely intelligent vote.

Do you know the name of the new State Treasurer just elected?...
Do you know the name of the present State Treasurer?.
Do you know the name of the new State Assemblyman for this dis-

No 87%
No 75%

No 70%

Do you know the name of the defeated candidate for Assemblyman in this district?..

No 80%

(Knew both of above 16%)

Do you know the name of the Surrogate of this County?...
Do you know the name of your Alderman?.....
Do you know whether your Alderman was one of those who voted
against the increase in the Police Force last year?..

No 65%

No 85%

No 98%

Are you in active politics?.

No 96%

The intelligence (?) of voters in the most independent Assembly District in Brooklyn. Data collected immediately after election, 1908.

Should We Blame the Voters

This is not all the fault of the voter. To cast a really intelligent ballot from a mere study of newspapers, campaign literature and speeches is impossible because practically nothing is ever published about the minor candidates. And this in turn is not always the fault of the press. In New York City the number of elective offices in State, City and County to be filled by popular vote in a cycle of four years is nearly five hundred. In Chicago the number is still greater. Philadelphia, although smaller than either city, elects more people than either. No newspaper can give publicity to so many candidates or examine properly into their relative merits. The most strenuous minor candidate cannot get a

hearing amid such clamor. And the gossip around the local headquarters being too one-sided to be trusted by a casual inquirer, a deep working personal acquaintance with politics, involving years of experience and study, becomes necessary before a voter can obtain the data for casting a wholly intelligent ballot. Plainly the voter is over-burdened with more questions than he will answer carefully, for it is certain that the average citizen cannot afford the time to fulfill such unreasonable requirements. The voters at the polls are the foundation of a democracy and this universal habit of voting blindly constitutes a huge break in that foundation which is serious enough to account for the toppling of the whole structure. Let us see if we can trace out a connection between this as a cause and misgovernment as the effect.

Blind Voting Leads to Government by Politicians

No one will deny that if nine-tenths of the citizens ignored politics and did not vote at all on election day, the remaining tenth would govern. And when practically all vote in nine-tenths ignorance and indifference, about the same delegation of power occurs. The remaining fraction who do give enough time to the subject to cast an intelligent ballot, take control.

That fraction we call "politicians" in our unique American sense of the word. A "politician" is a political specialist. He is one who knows more about the voter's political business than the voter does. He knows that the coroner's term will expire in November, and contributes toward the discussion involved in nominating a successor, whereas the voter hardly knows a coroner is being elected.

The politicians come from all classes and ranks and the higher intelligence of the community contributes its full quota. Although they are only a fraction of the electorate they are a fair average selection and they would give us exactly the kind of government we all want if only they could remain free and independent personal units. But the impulse to organize is irresistible. Convenience and efficiency require it and the "organization" springs up and cements them together. Good men who see the organization go wrong on a nomination continue to stay in and to lend their strength, not bolting until moral conditions become intolerable. Were these men not bound by an organization with its social and other non-political ties, their revolt would be early, easy and effective and every bad nomination would receive its separate and proportionate punishment in the alienation of supporters.

Politicians Can't Exclude Grafters From Their Ranks

The control of an active political organization will gravitate always toward a low level. The doors must be open to every voter-examination of his civic spirit is impossible and greed and altruism enter together. Greed has most to gain in a factional dispute and is least scrupulous in choice of methods. The bad politician carries more weapons than the politician who hampers himself with a code of ethics one degree higher. Consequently corruption finally dominates any machine that is worth dominating and sinks it lower and lower as worse men displace better, until the limit of public toleration is reached and the machine receives a set-back at election. That causes its members to clean up, discredit the men who went too far, and restore a standard high enough to winwhich standard immediately begins to sag again by the operation of the same natural principle.

Reformers in our cities have given up the endeavor to maintain pure political organizations and elect reform administrations. A typical experience is that of the Citizens' Union of New York, whose leaders have always been sincerely bent on improving the condition of politics. The Union acquired power enough to become an important factor in elections. After the first such election, small political organizations which had aided toward the victory rushed in, clamoring for their share of the plunder. For a term or two the reformers were able to resist the pressure. Nevertheless the possession of power by their party inev

itably attracted the grafters; they found themselves accepting assistance from men who were in politics for what there was in it, men who wanted to use the power and patronage that lay at hand unutilized, and it was clear that those men would in time, working within the Union, depose the original heads of the party and substitute "more practical” leaders of their own kind, until in time the Citizens' Union would itself need reforming. So the Union retired from the field as a party, broke up the district organizations which had yielded to corruption and became exclusive in its government in order to preserve its purity of purpose.

It is obvious that most political parties do not commit suicide to evade such internal contamination and lapse of principle.

Theoretically there is always the threat of the minority party which stands ready to take advantage of every lapse, but as there is no debate between minor candidates, no adequate public scrutiny or comparison of personalities, the minority party gets no credit for a superior nomination and often finds that it can more hopefully afford to cater to its own lowest elements. In fact, it may be only the dominant party which can venture to affront the lowest elements of its membership and nominate the better candidate.

Misgovernment the Normal Result of Government by Politicians

The essence of our complaint against our government is that it represents these easily contaminated political organizations instead of the citizens. Naturally! When practically none but the politicians in his district are aware of his actions or even of his existence, the office-holder who refuses to bow to their will is committing political suicide.

Sometimes the interests of the politician and the people are parallel, but sometimes they are not and the office-holder is apt to diverge along the path of politics. An appointment is made, partly at least, to strengthen the party since the appointee has a certain following. A bill is considered not on its simple merits but on the issue-"Who is behind it?" "If it is Boss Smith of Green County that wants it, whatever his reasons, we must placate him or risk disaffection in that district." So appointments and measures lose their original and proper significance and become mere pawns in the chess game of politics which aims to keep "our side" on top. The office-holders themselves may be upright, bribe-proof men-they usually are, in fact. But their failure to disregard all exigencies of party politics constitutes misrepresentative government and Boss Smith of Green County can privately sell his influence if he chooses, whereby the public is in the end a heavy sufferer.

Summary of the Analysis

Thus the connection between the long ballot and misgovernment is established: By voting the long ballot blindly, we entrust large governing power to easily-contaminated organizations of political specialists, and we must expect to get the kind of government that will naturally proceed from their trusteeship. Every factor in this sequence is a unique American phenomenon. The long ballot with its variegated list of trivial offices is to be seen nowhere but in the United States. The English ballot never covers more than three offices, usually only one. In Canada the ballot is less commonly limited to a single office, but the number is never large. To any Englishman or Canadian our long ballot is astonishing and our blind voting appalling. A Swiss would have to live four hundred years to vote upon as many men as an American undertakes to elect in one day. The politicians as a professional class, separate from popular leaders or office-holders, are unknown in other lands and the very word "politician" has a special meaning in this country which foreigners do not attach to it. And government from behind the scenes by politicians, in endless opposition to government by public opinion, is the final unqiue American phenomenon in the long ballot's train of consequences.


The Voting That Is Not Blind

The blind vote of course does not take in the whole ballot. Certain conspicuous offices engage our attention and we all vote on those with discrimination and care. We go to hear the speeches of the candidates for conspicuous offices, those speeches are printed in the daily papers, and reviewed in the weeklies, the candidates are the theme of editorials and the intelligent voter who takes no part in politics, votes with knowledge on certain important issues.

In an obscure contest on the blind end of the ballot merit has little political value, but in these conspicuous contests where we actually compare man and man, superior merit is a definite asset to a nominee. Hence in the case of an obscure nomination the tendency is automatically downward, but in a conspicuous nomination the tendency is upward.

Accordingly while we elect Aldermen who do not represent us and the State Legislatures which obey the influences of unseen powers, we are apt to do very well when it comes to the choice of a conspicuous officer like a President, a Governor, or a Mayor. For Mayor, Governor or President we are sure to secure a presentable figure, always honest and frequently an able and independent champion of the people against the very interests that nominated him. We are apt to re-elect such men, and the way we sweep aside hostile politicians where the issue is clear shows how powerfully the tide of our American spirit sets toward good government when the intelligence of the community finds a channel.

And so in these conspicuous offices-those for which we do not vote blindlywe secure fairly good government as a normal condition, considering that the organized and skillful opposition which always faces us occupies a position of great strategic advantage in possession of the nominating machinery.



We cannot hope to teach or force the entire citizenship to scrutinize the long ballot and cease to vote blindly on most of it. The Mountain will come not to Mahomet; Mahomet then must go to the Mountain.

First. We must shorten the ballot to a point where the average man will vote intelligently without giving to politics more attention than he does at present. That means making it very short, for if the number of these simultaneous elections is greater than the bulk of the citizens care to keep track of, then we have government by the remaining 40 per cent., or 20 per cent. of the citizens-and no matter whom we believe to be at fault, that plan in practice will have resulted in oligarchy and be a failure. The test for shortness is to inquire when a given number of offices are filled by election whether the people vote blindly or not on any one of them. For if they begin to require "tickets" ready-made for their convenience they are sharing their power with the ticketmakers-and democracy is fled!

Second. We must limit the elective list to offices that are naturally conspicuous. The little offices must either go off the ballot and be appointed, no matter how awkwardly, or they must be increased in real public importance by added powers until they rise into such eminence as to be visible to all the people. The County Surveyor, for instance, must go, for the electorate will not bother with such trifles whether the ballot be short or not.

Why indeed should 50,000 voters all be asked to pause for even a few minutes apiece to study the relative qualifications of Smith and Jones for the petty $1,000-a-year post of County Surveyor? Any intelligent citizen may properly have bigger business on his hands!

And the Alderman?-we can't abolish him perhaps, but we can increase his power by enlarging his district and lengthening his term and making his Board

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