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have no more to do with the discharge of the duties of the State and local offices than the respective principles of Methodists and Baptists, nominations to them are made by the respective party organizations. Candidates for all, or nearly all, the above offices are nominated in conventions composed of delegates from primaries. I cannot give the precise number of conventions, but there must be at least seven or eight, although one or two of these will not be held every year. As the areas with their respective conventions overlap, the same primary will in each year send different sets of delegates to as many different nominating conventions, six or seven at least, as there are sets of offices to be filled up in that year. The number and names of the elective offices differ in different States of the Union, but the general features of the system are similar.
Let us now take another illustration from Massachusetts, and regard the system from another side by observing how many sets of delegates a primary will have to send to the several nominating conventions which cover the local area to which the primary belongs.
A Massachusetts primary will choose the following sets of persons, including committee-men, candidates, and delegates: 1. Ward and city committees in cities, and town committees in towns.
2. In cities, candidates for common council and board of aldermen; in towns candidates for ten offices, i. e., selectmen, school committee; overseers of poor, town clerk and treasurer, assessors of taxes, etc.
3. In cities, delegates to a convention to nominate city officers.
4. Delegates to a convention to nominate county officers. 5. Candidates for representatives to State legislature, or delegates to a convention to nominate the same.
6. Delegates to a convention for nominating candidates for State Senate.
7. Delegates to a convention for nominating candidates for State Governor's council.
8. Delegates to a convention for nominating candidates for State offices (e. g., Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, etc.).
The above are annual. Then every two years
9. Delegates to a congressional convention for nominating candidates for representatives to Congress.
Then every four years—
10. Delegates to a district convention for nominating other delegates (corresponding to the members of Congress) to the national Presidential Convention of the party; and
11. Delegates to a general convention for nominating four delegates at large (corresponding to United States senators) to national Presidential Convention.
In New York City, at the November elections, there are usually from one hundred and sixty to two hundred candidates for the various offices, even when the year is not one of those when presidential electors are chosen; and all these have been nominated at primaries or conventions. But I need not weary the reader with further examples, for the facts above stated are fairly illustrative of what goes on over the whole Union.
It is hard to keep one's head through this mazy whirl of offices, elections, and nominating conventions. In America itself one finds few ordinary citizens who can state the details of the system, though these are of course familiar to professional politicians.
The first thing that strikes a European who contemplates this organization is the great mass of work it has to do. In Ohio, for instance, there are, if we count in such unpaid offices as are important in the eyes of politicians, on an average more than twenty-five offices to be filled annually by election. Primaries or conventions have to select candidates for all of these. Managing committees have to organize the primaries, "run" the conventions, conduct the elections. Here is ample occupation for a professional class.
What are the results which one may expect this abundance of offices and elections to produce?
The number of delegates needed being large, since there
are so many conventions, it will be hard to find an adequate number of men of any mark or superior intelligence to act as delegates. The bulk will be persons unlikely to possess, still more unlikely to exercise, a careful or independent judgment. The function of delegate being in the case of most conventions humble and uninteresting, because the offices are unattractive to good men, persons whose time is valuable will not, even if they do exist in sufficient numbers, seek it. Hence the best citizens, i. e., the men of position and intelligence, will leave the field open to inferior persons who have any private or personal reason for desiring to become delegates. I do not mean to imply that there is necessarily any evil in this as regards most of the offices, but mention the fact to explain why few men of good social position think of the office of delegate, except to the National Convention once in four years, as one of trust or honor.
The number of places to be filled by election being very large, ordinary citizens will find it hard to form an opinion as to the men best qualified for the offices. Their minds will be distracted among the multiplicity of places. In large cities particularly, where people know little about their neighbors, the names of most candidates will be unknown to them, and there will be no materials, except the recommendation of a party organization, available for determining the respective fitness of the candidates put forward by the several parties.
Those who have had experience of public meetings know that to make them go off well, it is as desirable to have the proceedings prearranged as it is to have a play rehearsed. You must select beforehand not only your chairman, but also your speakers. Your resolutions must be ready framed; you must be prepared to meet the case of an adverse resolution or hostile amendment. This is still more advisable where the meeting is intended to transact some business, instead of merely expressing its opinion; and when certain persons are to be selected for any duty, prearrangement becomes not merely convenient but indispensable in the interests of the
meeting itself, and of the business which it has to dispatch. "Does not prearrangement practically curtail the freedom of the meeting?" Certainly it does. But the alternative is confusion and a hasty unconsidered decision. Crowds need to be led; if you do not lead them they will go astray, will follow the most plausible speaker, will break into factions and accomplish nothing. Hence if a primary is to discharge properly its function of selecting candidates for office or a number of delegates to a nominating convention, it is necessary to have a list of candidates or delegates settled beforehand. And for the reasons already given, the more numerous the offices and the delegates, and the less interesting the duties they have to discharge, so much the more necessary is it to have such lists settled; and so much the more likely to be accepted by those present is the list proposed.
The reasons have already been stated which make the list of candidates put forth by a primary or by a nominating convention carry great weight with the voters. They are the chosen standard-bearers of the party. A European may remark that the citizens are not bound by the nomination; they may still vote for whom they will. If a bad candidate is nominated, he may be passed over. That is easy enough where, as in England, there are only one or two offices to be filled at an election, where these few offices are important enough to excite general interest, and where therefore the candidates are likely to be men of mark. But in America the offices are numerous, they are mostly unimportant, and the candidates are usually obscure. Accordingly guidance is welcome, and the party as a whole votes for the person who receives the party nomination from the organization authorized to express the party view. Hence the high importance attached to "getting the nomination"; hence the care bestowed on constructing the nominating machinery; hence the need for prearranging the lists of delegates to be submitted to the primary, and of candidates to come before the convention.
73. PRIMARY ELECTION LEGISLATION.
One way to diminish what the party machine has to do is to take the nomination of candidates partly out of its hands by providing for a legal primary election of party candidates. Laws to accomplish this have been adopted in a number of States during the last few years. In the following selection Professor C. E. Merriam discusses some of the problems connected with legislation on this subject: .
The widespread interest in nominating systems, particularly during the last ten years, has given rise to a great number of problems new to American politics. These questions are puzzling the reformer, the practical politician, the lawmaker and the judge. They are of absorbing interest to the student of political institutions and tendencies. It is the purpose of this paper to discuss only three of these problems, namely: the test of party allegiance, the formation of the platform under the direct primary system, and the majority required for nomination.
As the party primary becomes more and more like an election, the more important does the question of party membership become. What constitutes a republican or a democrat? and how shall a satisfactory legal test be made? Originally this was a matter over which the party authorities possessed exclusive jurisdiction, and which they might regulate and control in their discretion. The republican committee decided what evidence was necessary to establish a right to participate in republican primaries, and the democratic committee defined and determined the essentials of democracy. The abuse of this power in many cases led to legal regulation of the party test. The most frequent test required is an expression of intention to support the party candidates in the ensuing election, coupled with a statement of past support of or affiliation with the party. In Michigan the test includes a declaration of sympathy with the objects of the party. In New Jersey, the voter must state that he supported a majority of the party's candidates at the last