« PředchozíPokračovat »
and secrecy. Haven't you experienced it? I have. We are never so proper in our conduct as when everybody can look and see exactly what we are doing. If you are off in some distant part of the world and suppose that nobody who lives within a mile of your home is anywhere around, there are times when you adjourn your ordinary standards. You say to yourself: “Well, I'll have a fling this time; nobody will know anything about it.” If you were on the desert of Sahara, you would feel that you might permit yourself, — well, say, some slight latitude in conduct; but if you saw one of your immediate neighbors coming the other way on a camel,— you would behave yourself until he got out of sight. The most dangerous thing in the world is to get off where nobody knows you. I advise you to stay around among the neighbors, and then you may keep out of jail. That is the only way some of us can keep out of jail.
Publicity is one of the purifying elements of politics. The best thing that you can do with anything that is crooked is to lift it up where people can see that it is crooked, and then it will either straighten itself out or disappear. Nothing checks all the bad practices of politics like public exposure. You can't be crooked in the light. I don't know whether it has ever been tried or not; but I venture to say, purely from observation, that it can't be done.
And so the people of the United States have made up their minds to do a healthy thing for both politics and big business. Permit me to mix a few metaphors: They are going to open doors; they are going to let up blinds; they are going to drag sick things into the open air and into the light of the sun. They are going to organize a great hunt, and smoke certain animals out of their burrows. They are going to unearth the beast in the jungle in which when they hunted they were caught by the beast instead of catching him. They have determined, therefore, to take an axe and raze the jungle, and then see where the beast will find cover. And I, for my part, bid them Godspeed. The jungle breeds nothing but infection and shelters nothing but the enemies of mankind.
And nobody is going to get caught in our hunt except the beasts that prey. Nothing is going to be cut down or injured that anybody ought to wish preserved.
You know the story of the Irishman who, while digging a hole, was asked, “Pat, what are you doing,-- digging a hole?” And he replied, “No, sir; I am digging the dirt, and laving the hole.” It was probably the same Irishman who, seen digging around the wall of a house, was asked, “Pat, what are you doing?” And he answered, “Faith, I am letting the dark out of the cellar.” Now, that's exactly what we want to do,— let the dark out of the cellar.
Take, first, the relations existing between politics and business.
It is perfectly legitimate, of course, that the business interests of the country should not only enjoy the protection of the law, but that they should be in every way furthered and strengthened and facilitated by legislation. The country has no jealousy of any connection between business and politics which is a legitimate connection. It is not in the least averse from open efforts to accommodate law to the material development which has so strengthened the country in all that it has undertaken by supplying its extraordinary life with its necessary physical foundations.
But the illegitimate connections between business and legislation are another matter. I would wish to speak on this subject with soberness and circumspection. I have no desire to excite anger against anybody. That would be easy, but it would do no particular good. I wish, rather, to consider an unhappy situation in a spirit that may enable us to account for it, to some extent, and so perhaps get at the causes and the remedy. Mere denunciation doesn't help much to clear up a matter so involved as is the complicity of business with evil politics in America.
Every community is vaguely aware that the political machine upon which it looks askance has certain very definite connections with men who are engaged in business on a large scale, and the suspicion which attaches to the machine itself has begun to attach also to business enterprises, just because these connections are known to exist. If these connections were open and avowed, if everybody knew just what they involved and just what use was being made of them, there would be no difficulty in keeping an eye upon affairs and in controlling them by public opinion. But, unfortunately, the whole process of law-making in America is a very obscure one. There is no highway of legislation, but there are many by-ways. Parties are not organized in such a way in our legislatures as to make any one group of men avowedly responsible for the course of legislation. The whole process of discussion, if any discussion at all takes place, is private and shut away from public scrutiny and knowledge. There are so many circles within circles, there are so many indirect and private ways of getting at legislative action, that our communities are constantly uneasy during legislative sessions. It is this confusion and obscurity and privacy of our legislative method that gives the political machine its opportunity. There is no publicly responsible
man or group of men who are known to formulate legislation and to
There need have been nothing sinister about this. If the whole matter had been open and candid and honest, public criticism would not have centred upon it. But the use of money always results in demoralization, and goes beyond demoralization to actual corruption. There are two kinds of corruption,- the crude and obvious sort, which consists in direct bribery, and the much subtler, more dangerous, sort, which consists in a corruption of the will. Business men who have tried to set up a control in politics through the machine have more and more deceived themselves, have allowed themselves to think that the whole matter was a necessary means of self-defence, have said that it was a necessary outcome of our political system. Having reassured themselves in this way, they have drifted from one thing to another until the questions of morals involved have become hopelessly obscured and submerged. How far away from the ideals of their youth have many of our men of business drifted, enmeshed in the vicious system, — how far away from the days when their fine young manhood was wrapped in “that chastity of honor which felt a stain like a wound!”
It is one of the happy circumstances of our time that the most intelligent of our business men have seen the mistake as well as the immorality of the whole bad business. The alliance between business and politics has been a burden to them,- an advantage, no doubt,
upon occasion, but a very questionable and burdensome advantage. It has given them great power, but it has also subjected them to a sort of slavery and a bitter sort of subserviency to politicians. They are as anxious to be freed from bondage as the country is to be rid of the influences and methods which it represents. Leading business' men are now becoming great factors in the emancipation of the country from a system which was leading from bad to worse. There are those, of course, who are wedded to the old ways and who will stand out for them to the last, but they will sink into a minority and be overcome. The rest have found that their old excuse (namely, that it was necessary to defend themselves against unfair legislation) is no longer a good excuse; that there is a better way of defending themselves than through the private use of money. That better way is to take the public into their confidence, to make absolutely open all their dealings with legislative bodies and legislative officers, and let the public judge as between them and those with whom they are dealing.
This discovery on their part of what ought to have been obvious all along points out the way of reform; for undoubtedly publicity comes very near being the cure-all for political and economic maladies of this sort. But publicity will continue to be very difficult so long as our methods of legislation are so obscure and devious and private. I think it will become more and more obvious that the way to purify our politics is to simplify them, and that the way to simplify them is to establish responsible leadership. We have had no leadership at all inside our legislative bodies,- at any rate, no leadership which is definite enough to attract the attention and watchfulness of the country. Our only leadership having been that of irresponsible persons outside the legislatures who constitute the political machines, it has been extremely difficult for even the most watchful public opinion to keep track of the circuitous methods pursued. This undoubtedly lies at the root of the growing demand on the part of American communities everywhere for responsible leadership, for putting in authority and keeping in authority those whom they know and whom they can watch and whom they can constantly hold to account. The business of the country ought to be served by thoughtful and progressive legislation, but it ought to be served openly, candidly, advantageously, with a careful regard to letting everybody be heard and every interest be considered, the interest which is not backed by money as well as the interest which is; and this can be accomplished only by some simplification of our methods which will centre the public trust in
small groups of men who will lead, not by reason of legal authority, but by reason of their contact with and amenability to public opinion.
I am striving to indicate my belief that our legislative methods may well be reformed in the direction of giving more open publicity to every act, in the direction of setting up some form of responsible leadership on the floor of our legislative halls so that the people may know who is back of every bill and back of the opposition to it, and so that it may be dealt with in the open chamber rather than in the committee room. The light must be let in on all processes of lawmaking
Legislation, as we nowadays conduct it, is not conducted in the open. It is not threshed out in open debate upon the floors of our assemblies. It is, on the contrary, framed, digested, and concluded in committee rooms. It is in committee rooms that legislation not desired by the interests dies. It is in committee rooms that legislation desired by the interests is framed and brought forth. There is not enough debate of it in open house, in most cases, to disclose the real meaning of the proposals made. Clauses lie quietly unexplained and unchallenged in our statutes which contain the whole gist and purpose of the act; qualifying phrases which escape the public attention, casual definitions which do not attract attention, classifications so technical as not to be generally understood, and which every one most intimately concerned is careful not to explain or expound, contain the whole purpose of the law. Only after it has been enacted and has come to adjudication in the courts is its scheme as a whole divulged. The beneficiaries are then safe behind their bulwarks.
Of course, the chief triumphs of committee work, of covert phrase and unexplained classification, are accomplished in the framing of tariffs. Ever since the passage of the outrageous Payne-Aldrich Tariff Act our people have been discovering the concealed meanings and purposes which lay hidden in it. They are discovering item by item how deeply and deliberately they were deceived and cheated. This did not happen by accident; it came about by design, by elaborated, secret design. Questions put upon the floor in the House and Senate were not frankly or truly answered, and an elaborate piece of legislation was foisted on the country which could not possibly have passed if it had been generally comprehended.
And we know, those of us who handle the machinery of politics, that the great difficulty in breaking up the control of the political' boss is that he is backed by the money and the influence of these very people who are intrenched in these very schedules. The tariff could