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The independent. [volume] (Lincoln, Neb.) 1902-1907, November 27, 1902, Image 3

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THE NEBRASKA INDEPENDENT.
3
THE WARD BOSS
A Former Www Yrkr pks Good
. Word for That Mnh Abased
Iadlvldnal
Editor Independent: Many persons
have been astonished to learn that
Mayor Low's reform administration in
i.ew York city is worse if anything
than the rule of Tammany, and they
have vaguely ; wondered why. Rail,
against it and preach against it as we
may, the boss and the machine are
permanent fixtures in American poli
tics, and always will be until the in
itiative and referendum and nomina
tions by primary come more generally
in vogue. Many republicans and not
a few democrats and populists believe
that direct legislation is doomed to be
a flat failure, and they point to the de
feat of so many constitutional amend
ments in Nebraska as proof of their
claims.
The experience with constitutional
amendments here proves but little one
way or the other. The framers of the
constitution of 1875 believed in mak
ing the constitution very difficult to
amend and they succeeded admirably.
They followed the Hamiltonian idea
of keening: the government as far
away from the people as possible.
Nothing short of a sweeping popular
uprising will ever amend the constitu
tion of Nebraska, because of our form
of ballot and method of submission.
All over the state this year, in various
counties, smaller questions were sub
mitted to the voters, and these were
carried or defeated by an intelligent
active vote, and not decided by the
inactive or passive voter who said "no"
by saying "nothing.
Until direct legislation comes, then,
the ward,' boss is a permanent fixture,
whether, .we like it or not. Some of
the reasons are well stated by the late
Paul Leicester Ford in his admirable
novel, "The Honorable Peter Stirling."
(Henry Holt & Co., New York., 43rd
edition, 1901.)
"Broadly speaking," says the Hon
orable Peter (who was a Tammany
ward boss), "all persons of sound mind
are entitled to vote on the men and
the laws which are to govern them.
Aside from this, every ounce of brain
or experience you can add to the bal
lot, makes it more certain. Suppose
you say that half the people are too
ignorant t to vote sensibly. Don't you
see that 'there is an even chance, at
least, that they will vote rightly, and
if the wrong half carries the election,
it is because more intelligent people
have voted wrongly, have not voted,
or have not taken the trouble to try
and show the people the right way, but.
have left them to the mercies of the
demagogue. ... A government of the
'best' men is not an American govern
ment. That is the aristocratic idea.
That the better element, so-called,
shall compel the masses to be good,
whether they wish it or no. Just as
rne makes a child behave without re
gard to its own desires. With grown
men, such a system only results u
widening the distance between the
classes and masses, making the latter
more dependent and unthinking.
Whereas, if we make every man vote
he must think a little for himself
because different people advise him
contrarily, and thus we bring him
nearer to the more educated. He even
educates himself by his own mistakes;
for every bad man elected, and every
bad law passed, make him suffer the
results, and he can only blame him
self. Of course we don't get as good
a government or laws, but then we
have other off-setting advantages.
"We get men and laws which are
the wish of the majority. Such are al
most self-supporting and self-administering.
It is not a mere combina
tion of words, printing ink and white
paper which makes a law. It is the
popular sentiment back of it which en
forces it, and unless a law is the wish
of a majority of the people who are
governed by it, it is either a dead let
ter, or must be enforced by elaborate
police systems, supported oftentimes
with great armies. Even then it doe"?
not succeed, if the people choose Jo
resist. Look at the attempt to gov
ern Ireland by force, in the face of pop
ular sentiment. Then, too, we get a
stability almost unknown in govern
ments which do not conform to the
people."
"I ook at it as a contest," he con
tinued, speaking of reform movements,
"without regard to the merit of the
cause. On one side we have bosses,
who know and understand the men in
their wards, have usually made them
selves popular, are in politics for a
living, have made it a life-study, and
by dear experience have learned that
they must surrender their own opin
ions in order to produce harmony and
a solid vote. The reformer, on the
contrary, is usually a man who has
other occupations, and, if I may say
so, ha3 usually met with only partial
success in them. By that I mean that
the really successful merchant, or
banker, or professional man cannot
take time to work In politics, and so
only the less successful try. Each re
former, too. Is sure that he himself
is right, and as his bread and butter
Is not in the issue, he quarrels to his
heart's content with his associates,
so that tney can rarely unite all their
force. Most of the reform movements
in this city have been attempted in a
way that is simply laughable. What
should we say if a hundred busy men
were to get together tomorrow and de
cide that they would open a great
bank, to fight the clearing-house banks
of New York? Yet this in effect is
what the reformers have done over
and over again in politics. They say
to the men who have been kept in
power for years by the people, 'You
are scoundrels. The people who elect
ed you are ignorant We know how
to do it better. Now we'll turn you
out' In short, they tell the majority
they are fools, but ask their votes.
The average reformer indorses thor
oughly the theory ''that every man is
as good as another, and a little bet
ter.' And he himself is always the
better man. The people won't stanl
that. The 'holier than thou' will de
feat a man quicker in this country
than will any rascality he may have
done."
We may not wholly agree with the
Honorable Peter Stirling in all he
says, but there is so much truth in
most of it that whether we like it or
not we cannot shut our eyes to the
fact One great . difficulty with the
populist party as a political organiza
tion has been that its members ex
pected to accomplish too much in a
short time, and then pouted because
the world wasn't reformed in &, day,
forgetting that it takes years ,to ac
complish substantial results, y
Nebraska is a case in point. Start
ing out with a platform stating the
grand fundamental truths upon which
the party hoped to win, the people's
independent party, aided by the demo
crats and some republicans, did finally
win. ,The officers elected were not
omniscient; they were not infallible;
but they gave the state the best ad
ministration it ever had. Of course
the ousted party went about it syste
matically to create discord and dis
sensions in the populist ranks. Ev
ery little mistake was magnified and
harped upon as an enormous crime
and strange to say, or perhaps not
strange, after all thousands of pop
ulists fell into the trap and joined in
the clamor against the very men they
had elevated to office. It is Peter Stir
ling's ward boss against the reformer
as he knew him.
Starting out with a general declara
tion in favor of public ownership of
the railroads, and strict control until
that time came, the populist platform
continued until 1898. By that time
the insidious work of the republican
press and ward boss had had its ef
fect, and the whole railroad question
was dropped to take up a mere wran
gle over the pass question. Apparent
ly it was expected that if eight state
officers would eschew the use of
passes, not only would that evil be
abolished, but also the whole rail
road question would be settled in short
order. It was the ward boss against
the reformer and the ward boss final
ly won. Two thousand shrewd republi
can ward bosses riding the length and
breadth of the land without money
and without price and some people
believed they could defeat them per
manently by an army of men on foot!
Nobody defends the pass system
but it will never be abolished by the
tactics in vogue since 1898 as the re
sult of populists and democrats draw
ing their political inspiration from re
publican newspapers. If instead of
throwing away a useful weapon in
fighting the enemy, the populists and
democrats had said to the railroad
companies, "We demand a free pass
for our people to offset every one you
issue to the republicans," and enacted
a law compelling railroad companies
to file reports of all passes issued,
doubtless today there would not be
one-tenth as many issued and cer
tainly no more than there are today.
The Honorable Peter Stirling be
lieved in accomplishing all the good
he ccAild with the means at hand, and
was too practical to defeat himself by
Pharisaical ranting. I would recom
mend that book to Nebraska reform
ers. EX-KNICKERBOCKER.
Abolish the Senate
Editor Independent: There seems
to be a great demand by democrats and
populists to have our constitution so
changed that senators shall be elected
by a direct vote of the people. Bryan
and other leaders have strongly advo
cated it.
I cannot see why we could not go a
r
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step further and change the constitu
tion so as to abcjlish the senate and
senators, both state and national. The
senate is neither 'more nor less than
the house of lords dea. True, we have
no house of lords, but we do have an
equivalent of aristocracy in the wealth
and plutocracy that govern and con
trol our country to a greater extent
than most of us are willing to admit,
and more than a free people should
permit.
We call ourselves a republic, and
doubtless we are the nearest on a
large scale to being a true republic of
any ever formed. The best informed
politicians seem to agree that after all
we are only a compromise government,
midway, so to speak, between a peo
ple's government and a kingly or mon
archical government a compromise
between the Jeffersonian and the Ham
iltonian ideas.
If we were truly a government "of
the people, by the people, and for the
people," what need would there be for
two classes of representatives or a
lower. house for the masses and an up
per house for the classes, the so-called
higher classes of wealth and aristoc
racy? . ,
If we are all equal before the law
and only one class what need is there
for more than one set of lawmakers,
appointed and selected, so to .speak, to
assemble and lick our necessary laws
into shape, and when donesend the
work back to the people for their ac
ceptance or rejection. If accepted,
keep the same committee for future
work. If rejected, let the people se
lect another committee who will do
the bididng of their masters, thesov
ereign people. We would soon have
more stable laws and better govern
mentat least as good as the people
'-ere who made the laws.
What is the use of haying two
branches or two sets of servants to
do the people's bidding if, as we claim,
we are free and equal all sovereigns
only one class according to law?
With an intelligent and free people, it
would seem that one set of representa
tives should be ample to do all that is
of vital use for such people's govern
ment. So why hot wipe out our old
house of lords, and let the whole peo
ple take their place? They cannot do
worse, and should make an ample bal
ance wheel to the lawmaking machin
ery. J. E. R.. MILLAR.
Lincoln, Neb.
Trusting of the Trusts.
Editor Independent: The question in
the minds of sober thinking people is
the trusting of the trusts. The good
trusts, and the bad trusts which!
Lodge can't tell! He couldn't tell
which 'twas before he "caught it," no
more than could the Dutchman his
twin colts for the reason, as he said,
"One looked so much like both he
couldn't tell to'der from which." No
more can Lodge. All the difference In
them lies in the capacity of their
"tentacles" and the disposition for
"reaching out" in the men behind
them. The latent power in them may
"sleep," but it is there.
These holders and venders of our
commercial wealth force at their own
option, by secret lines and methods of
control, a regulated supply as may
best count for their own interests up
on the' necessitated patronage of the
people. And .the people thus far' have
not been able through their own gov
ernment to obtain any relief from this
arbitrary state of things. Senator
Lodge has arithmetically figured the
trusts into two classes, the ratio of
which, as he states it, is so. far as
Indicating the evil involved a libel xn
plain truth-telling. As "collateral"
evidence of this "In a way" I give
the opinion of "Patrick" on the trusts
bearing on this same point as he
told it to "Michael":
"Now about thim thrusts, Moike,"
said Pat, "I ra'son this way: Whim
th' divil makes one thrust that bates
a man, that, be a good thrust for the
divil, but a bad thrust for the man!
So whin the divil and the thrusts go
pards by me logic I proves the same
as Siniter Dodger be tellin' whin he
says 'there be nointy-folve ' good
thrusts to ivery foive bad thrusts.'
See! Moike! me truth-tellin' be e'kal
to Siniter Dodger's truth-tellin' ony
way!" Michael: "I see yer p'int, Pat; yer
moighty near bein' a sthatesman!"
FRANCIS KEYES.
Longmeadow, Mass.
Was Silver Demonetized?
Editor Independent: In your ar
ticle heeded "Is Silver a Legal Ten
der," you say "the silver dollars nev
er was demonetized." That is true
( the coined silver, but not of the un
coined silver money which was just as
good as the coined silver for the pay
ment of debt. The coined silver of the
United States was but a small part of
the whole amount of silver in the
world and it was all good money of
the United States for it could be made
so if the owner was willing to have it
so.
If the uncoined silver was not now
demonetized, prices would be much
higher and it would be much easier
and perfecay fair to the creditors to
;-iy all old debts of the nation, the
state and the Individual.
The democratic national platform
of j 896 says: "We demand the free
and unlimited coinage of both silver
and gold at the present legal ratio of
1G to 1 without waiting for the aid or
consent of any other nation." .
J. II. NEWMAN.
Charlevoix, Mich.
(It is customary to say that the act
of 1873 "demonetized silver," although
the real facts are that it simply pre
vented further monetization of the
white metal that is, it dropped out
the silver dollar from the list of coins
which might be minted. Uncoined sil
ver is not money, consequently It could
not, strictly speaking, be demonetized;
but it could be, prevented from ever
becoming money in thi3 country at
least and that is what the "crime of
'73" did Ed. Ind.)
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ii

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