making is to be transferred from legislative chambers to voting-booths, he is convinced that, in placing political information in every voter's hand, Oregon is not trying a freakish experiment but rather is pursuing the only sane course.

In our great scientific associations-for example, in the American Society of Civil Engineers with its more than 4,000 members-there is sent to every member, to serve as a basis for his vote, a precise statement of proposed changes in the constitution or by-laws and a stenographic report of the debate at the society's meetings. In our legislatures, state and federal, every measure that is to be voted upon lies in print upon each member's desk, and every such document is kept up to date; yet it is both the member's opportunity and his duty to be present, to listen to and to participate in the most thorough-going discussion of legislative projects. Such sources of information are not available to the average voter. In time it will be recognized that faith in direct legislation rests on a very shaky foundation unless the state places before each vote, as it has always placed before each member of a legislature, the means of informing himself upon every question which he is to take part in deciding.

This will mean no slight burden of work and expense. But what educational expenditure by the state will bear more directly upon the safe-guarding of the state's own interests? For years there have been allowed to each member of Congress seeds to the value of about $225, to be sent at the expense of the government to the people in his district. The theory has been that by the unloading of these unsolicited and miscellaneous assortments of seeds upon the farmers throughout the land scientific agriculture would be promoted. Is it not quite as logical that the state provide for the free distribution of seeds of political thought? The cost would be less; and it is reasonable to hope that the seed thus distributed would show quite as great germinating and productive power as has been shown by that sent out from Washington. In the solution of the problem of the educa

tion of the voters, for states that are adopting direct legislation, Oregon leads the ways.


It has been said that what the country needs is not more voters so much as more active and intelligent voting. The duty of the citizen to the state and the service which he ought to be willing to render to the state in return for the protection and other benefits which the state confers upon him is the subject of the following selection from an address by Governor J. W. Folk:

In no direction is the need greater for patriotic energy and earnest effort than in advancing the public welfare. In a government such as ours, which rests on the people, every man should take an active interest in the selection of those who represent the people in official capacity. The need is for more men actuated by the public good, instead of those in politics for revenue only. I do not mean the need for men in public office alone, but for those in private life, for it should not be forgotten that it is as essential to good government for private citizens to discharge the responsibilities resting upon them as it is for the faithful carrying out of official obligations in the public service.

Many men are eager to go to war and give up their lives. for their country, but will not take the trouble to vote in party primaries in which governmental policies have their birth. A vote on the day of some general election is not enough to meet one's civic obligations. Under our system political parties are necessary, for it is through political parties that men come to an agreement on public policies, and make known their principles and intentions. Party policies are inaugurated and party tickets are conceived in the first meetings of ward, township, or county, or in the primaries to select delegates to conventions. Not only should a good citizen be patriotic on primary and election days— putting the public good always above mere party advantage -but he should live for his country and state every day. The man who lives for his country is as true a patriot as he

who dies for his country. Patriotism abides not alone in the roar of cannon, amid the din and clash of arms, but in the every-day duties of civic life.

The people can overthrow civil evils whenever they want to and can have a government as good as they themselves make it or as bad as they suffer it to become. There is hardly a community in this country where the law-abiding people are not in the majority. They are usually quiet, however, while the other side are so vociferous as to deceive some into the idea that they are stronger than they are. The power of corruptionists is obtained through the indifference of good citizens. Bad citizens are united, good citizens are divided. That is the trouble. If good citizens could be induced to join hands in patriotic endeavor, the bad would be shorn of their strength and be powerless to accomplish anything. Law-breakers are always organized and work while good people sleep, but once the latter are aroused they are invincible.

The government of the nation, State, and city rests upon the active morality of the average individual. In proportion as that morality is strong the government is good; when the average morality is low, the government must be inferior. When good citizens attend to their civic duties, their civic energy is represented in good officials; when they are careless, their slothfulness is represented by corrupt officials. The character of government depends entirely upon the will of the majority, and no government is better than a majority of its voters.

To arouse the people and make them exercise their civic duties is a matter of supreme importance. In a monarchical form of government all authority is in the crown and delegated to those beneath. Civic indifference there is not fraught with such grave consequences. In a republic like ours, each individual is a constituent part of sovereignty; each man is one seventy-five-millionth of a sovereign on the throne of American manhood. This may seem small but it marks the distinction between the citizen and the subject.

Some may think if the government were left entirely to you public evils could not exist. But you have a portion of the responsibility now. If you are unfaithful in part, would you be more faithful with all? If each citizen were

to leave the remedying of public wrongs to some one else, nothing would be accomplished.

The State protects the citizen, and the citizen must protect the State, politically as well as financially, and his civic duties are as morally binding as his taxes. If each man were to think that he is only one among many and that it is unnecessary for him to pay taxes because there will be plenty without him, the State would be bankrupt if it could not enforce payment. If every man were to reason that among so many his influence for good is not needed, then the State would be bankrupt politically and we would have a government of the few with wealth enough to purchase official favors. There is sometimes too much of a disposition on the part of some to allow others to do the face-sweating in civic affairs while they do the bread-eating. Our government in theory gives more rights than any other, but some think so little of their obligations to the general welfare that they are often indifferent to being robbed as long as they do not feel the effects directly and are among the many.


1-Political Duties and Political Rights, Woodburn, J. A., Political Parties and Party Problems, 220-32. 2-American Domestic Problems, Abbott, L., The Rights of Man, 216-50.

3-Some Causes of the Stability and Success of our Dual System of Government, Landon, J., Constitutional History and Government of the United States, 303-28. 4-The Strength of American Democracy, Bryce, J., American Commonwealth, II, 594-606.






The central figure in the House of Representatives is, of course, the Speaker. At the beginning of our government the Speaker was merely an impartial presiding officer, as is the Speaker of the House of Commons to the present day, and not necessarily the member of the dominant party with the longest congressional career or greatest influence. He did not acquire the exclusive power to appoint committees until the Fourth Congress, but after that event, and largely because of it, his influence steadily increased. In 1890 Speaker Reed devised a new rule for counting a quorum and broke up filibustering by refusing to entertain dilatory motions. He was at once denounced as a "Czar" and the Speaker has since then often been called the "Autocrat of Congress," the "absolute arbiter of the destinies of all legislation." In the following selection Mr. Asher C. Hinds, for many years Clerk at the Speaker's Table, describes the Speaker's position since the days of Mr. Reed and explains why it is necessary for him to have such large powers: [1909].

One familiar with the procedure of the House for the last fifteen years cannot be otherwise than surprised at the confidence of the assertions that the House has ceased to be either a deliberative body or an efficient legislating body.

« ForrigeFortsett »