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maintain a government, contrary to the king's will. But in spite of this last effort of a king to govern as well as to reign, Parliamentary government was maintained against the royal prerogative, and the Cabinet became, as it is now in theory, the Executive agent of the Commons. The Cabinet originates and proposes measures; the Commons is supposed to deliberate on these, to discuss them, and to decide on the proposals, accepting or rejecting as the sense of the Commons is pleased. But in practice to-day the Cabinet system presents another aspect. It is not the Commons which actually determines on measures, so much as the Cabinet itself. It is rare that a "Government" bill is discussed. The department that has it in charge generally forces the measure through by applying the party majority to its support. Criticism is silenced by the knowledge that the measure is the proposal of the Ministry whom the majority were sent there to support. A private member cannot obtain an opportunity for the discussion of a bill unless the Government wishes to have it so. Financial debates on the budget are becoming more and more formal every year, the Treasury department fixing the sum to be spent, and spending it, while the House concurs in practical silence. "In all departments of political life the Cabinet governs, and not the House of Commons, which, instead of governing, confines itself to appointing, dismissing, and, on occasion, silently influencing the Cabinet. This has been called a gradual and "unconscious revolution." The talking Parliament had talked too much, until legislative business had become congested, and deliberation and debate came to be regarded as an intolerable interruption to the serious business of the state, until now we have "Parliament practically controlled, guided and, in a sense, superseded by what was once its executive committee." While practice has made this accretion of power to the Cabinet a natural process, it is still true that the Cabinet is responsible, and it may be dismissed at any time if it goes contrary to the prevailing opinion of the nation as repre
sented in the Commons. The Cabinet is still merely the agency through which the democratic power of the nation is exercised.
Now if the views expressed by Roger Sherman in the Constitutional Convention had prevailed, we should have had the English system of the responsible Ministry. Sherman was thinking of the Executive not as one person, but as several— as an executive committee to carry out the governmental business determined upon-a committee appointed by Congress and dischargeable by Congress. This would have made Congress the responsible supreme power in the nation. It would have closely united the executive and the legislative power and responsibility in one body. It would have concentrated the powers of government instead of separating them, and under such provision, no doubt, something like the English Cabinet system would have grown up in America. It would have tended toward a more direct democracy in the Government-producing a government more quickly responding to popular behests. Instead of this the framers of our Constitution established the separation of the departments of government. Each department, the Executive and the Legislative, has its source in the people; each is elected by the people without the intervention of the other; each has its rights, duties, privileges, and prerogatives, assigned by the Constitution, and for the performance of these the two departments are answerable, not to each other, but to the people directly, and each is supreme under the Constitution and the sovereign power of the people in its own defined sphere.
41. EXECUTIVE SUPREMACY.
The theory of the Presidential form of government which our Constitution establishes is that the executive and legislative departments shall be separate and distinct. How has this worked out in practice? Have the two departments remained as distinct in fact as they are supposed to be in theory? Mr. James T. Young discusses this subject in the following selection: .
Twenty years ago the author of "Congressional Govern
ment" declared that all the checks and balances of our political system had failed to preserve the balance of power between the three departments of government, and that the result was Congressional supremacy. To-day we must admit that these checks and balances are still unavailing but that we now live under a system of executive supremacy. Is this change due chiefly to factors of personality or does it correspond to new conditions in the social and economic life of a people? Is executive supremacy to be explained away by reciting the names-Cleveland, Harrison, McKinley, Roosevelt or has something far more fundamental than a mere growth of personal influence taken place? Certainly the latter is true.
Aside from the element of personality, four important causes have tended to produce the changed relations between executive and legislature:
I. The growth in volume of government business.
II. The rise of new public questions of a technical character.
III. The popular demand for greater speed in government action.
IV. The growing unwieldiness of large legislative bodies.
I. Growth of the volume of public business. The present volume of governmental affairs is not explained by the necessary increase of population, the extension of the national boundaries or the development of new sections of the country. While these have added their share, the great majority of governmental tasks have been occasioned by the development of the manufacturing and transportation interests of the country. This development has of necessity brought with it a division into separate, distinct economic classes and interests. The existence of these distinct groups has created two sets of demands, one for government action favorable to the group interests, the other for government regulation and restriction or supervision of the activities of the group. From both sides our governments are assailed with requests for action. With each step forward in the development of
these industries and with each attempt on their part to secure a more profitable adjustment of their internal organization, some new form of public regulation or supervision is invoked. and from this a marked increase of the volume of government business arises. The recent report of the Chief of the Bureau of Corporations in the Department of Commerce and Labor affords a notable instance of this process. In 1887 it was felt that the trusts were the result of railroad rebates. The Interstate Commerce Law of that year arose from this belief. In 1890 industrial combination had reached a point where it could supposedly be reached by a law prohibiting restraint of interstate trade. The Sherman Act resulted. In 1903 it was believed that the evils of over-capitalization might be reached by publicity and the government jurisdiction was again extended. In 1904 the Bureau established to secure publicity advocates the licensing of corporations engaged in interstate commerce and this brings into the forum of public discussion the question of the further extension of government regulation. As a result of these and similar extensions of government power each Congress is now burdened with over 20,000 bills and resolutions. In the great volume of matters brought to its attention the legislative assembly cannot regulate in detail but is forced to enact outline laws, leaving to the executive the duty of filling in these outlines by regulations, orders and rules. The administrative side of the government is thereby charged with the duty of determining the content and the spirit of legislation within certain general limits.
II. It has become a platitude to say that modern business is more complex than formerly. This trite saying is particularly true of governmental affairs. The problems which we now face do not admit of settlement by a popular vote. The standard of intelligence of our citizenship is doubtless rising, yet the voter is not capable of working out a plan of government regulation or control.
The location of an Isthmian Canal, the reorganization of the army, the construction of a navy, the more rational
development of our postal facilities, the planning of systems of irrigation, the regulation of corporate finance, the control of railway rates and the management of our colonial dependencies, are national questions of prime importance; but their settlement cannot depend upon a simple consensus of public opinion. They require rather the careful study of trained specialists and experts. If we examine the public problems brought up for discussion in the President's message it will be seen that they are pre-eminently industrial or commercial in character and that they are technical rather than popular. The numbers and importance of this class of public problems are growing by leaps and bounds—a fact which necessarily brings into greater prominence the executive as the expert branch of the government.
III. The demand for quick government. One feature of our economic conditions that has largely escaped the attention of publicists, is the influence of means of communication upon government. This influence is indirect, but none the less powerful in its action. Better means of transport and communication not only create a general quickening in the pace of commerce and manufactures; they also involve a subtler change in the psychology of the people. Our interests and our mental processes are reaching out beyond the narrower local environment and are becoming national and even cosmopolitan in scope. But by this same fact they move more quickly. We are intolerant of delay in business or government. The continued outcropping of lynch law in advanced communities is not always a sign of simple mob lawlessness, but is frequently an expression of our whole attitude towards the action of the State. Doubtless it were better that more deliberation might sometimes be exercised in public affairs; but such is not the view of the people at large. Therefore the government must act and act quickly. But our legislative machinery was deliberately planned to secure slow action, while the executive is lightning-like in its swiftness. For illustration, a change in the method of interpreting and administering our immigration laws involves a newspaper