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THE PRE-NOMINATION CAMPAIGN
upon the Congress of the United States. While I am convinced that neither Congress nor political leadership in the country is as big as the soul of the American people, I am likewise convinced that many of the faults which we attribute to the Government are our own faults, the faults of the people themselves. And in a democracy the faults of the people count heavily, especially in matters of foreign policy.
Popular government has never shown itself extremely capable in foreign affairs. In foreign affairs details of negotiation must be known only to the Government, else the negotiations would inevitably fail. They are hidden from the people. The people, if they are to be helpful, must trust their experts implicitly and at the same time follow, approve, and control foreign policy in its main outlines and its final phase.
American democracy neither trusts experts nor exhibits at critical moments a keen sense of National honor or of international right. And we have to take this into account, among other things, in judging President Wilson from the Lusitania to the Sussex. He has been under the burden of the home democracy as well as of foreign affairs. With his own conception of his Presidential mission it has seemed to him that he had to feel his way out of the darkness and move slowly and cautiously while the unprepared United States was finding its own soul.
It seems to me that the history of our times in the United States might be written from the standpoint of the spirit of the American people groping its way out of prison. For a quarter of a century it has slowly been creeping towards the light in its domestic policies, casting off the fetters of private interest and extending the bounds of the common welfare. A more difficult task appears to be the finding itself in its adjustment to foreign relations. Always difficult for a democracy, it is unusually difficult for the United States. A hundred years of the fixed policy of isolation has dulled the international sense. And yet, when we come to think of it, we were introduced to the path of internationalism under the most favorable uspices. The little war which we waged unselfishly with Spain revealed to the Nation clearly how its soul might find itself in the international realm-the use of power for the service of weaker peoples; the use of efficiency for the development of weaker peoples; the altruism of the great Republic
exerted for a united America, for the sympathetic and friendly union of trade and ideals with sister states to the south; the firm policing of the feebler and more turbulent populations of Central America for their own safety as well as ours. The brightest spot of internationalism on the face of the earth has been the Philippines and Cuba. And in making it bright, America has been finding her soul. Under the present. Administration there have been ominous signs of spiritual retreat and disaster. The proposed scuttling of the Philippines, the deliberate discussion of the payment of blackmail to Colombia, have been symptoms of the shrinking of the National soul. And the slow response of the spirit of America to the atrocious wrongs committed in Belgium, in Armenia, upon the high seas, and even at our borders in Mexico, has been a startling indication of the subnormal beating of the moral impulse. And yet all the time there have been signs of life and hope.
It may seem fantastic to speak of the Platt Amendment as a method of the National soul. The Platt Amendment is a tether by which the United States allows weaker peoples, for whose conduct she feels herself responsible, the greatest measure of selfgovernment and independence up to a certain point of disorder and danger to ourselves and themselves. We have applied the full principle of it in Cuba, and the nub of it in the case of the police protectorate actually enforced in Haiti, in San Domingo, and now in Nicaragua where we have secured the option upon another canal route. few American marines in the capital of Nicaragua have for more than a year been the source of the most profound peace that the little "Republic" ever knew. And the National sense, not of "manifest destiny," but of duty, has grown stronger as we have observed the service which these simple police protectorates have been able to accomplish.
But the sense of National responsibility has paused and paltered at the gates of Mexico. I am not now criticising the method of the Government of the United States in dealing with Mexican affairs. I am talking about the people of the United States and why they have faltered. Mexico is a country of great area, with a large and proud population having a national ego developed out of all proportion to any human quality or advancement in civilization and self-control.
And from the standpoint of any necessary military aggression we are a feeble folk. And successive groups of native Mexicans are seeking to establish order out of chaos. Let them work at it. It is the line of least resistance, the easier way. That has been the way a large part of the country has looked at it. But already, with respect to Mexico, the soul of the Nation is finding itself, and unless the group about Carranza speedily show themselves worthy of the confidence of the loan markets of the world and otherwise capable of rule, the Platt Amendment, it seems to me, is as sure to be applied to Mexico as it ever was to Cuba. That is the temper of the slowly rising consciousness of the American people.
The soul of the Nation is finding itself. We are a great, cumbersome democracy, working at cross-purposes, busy about many matters. Many newspapers and politicians have deluded us so often that we have ceased listening to them for a long time after they begin to cry "Wolf!" and "Peril!” But the giant is stirring in his sleep. There is a great spiritual reserve in the country, as there was at the time of the Civil War. Then we were a Nation under arms, and when we were first organized we had no great military captains. But we stumbled on until we created our own great captains. And as the war progressed, the army developed a soul of its own. And the time came when, if every general had suddenly been shot in battle, new leaders would have been born in an hour and the soul of that army, like John Brown's spirit, would have gone marching on. This is what America is capable of in a crisis, whether of peace or of war. So now the Nation has taken its stand soberly and unitedly behind the President, or in front of him, in the final declaration to Germany and the world that we think of ourselves by the force of circumstances as "the responsible spokesmen of the rights of humanity, and that we cannot remain silent while those rights seem in process of being swept utterly away in the maelstrom." The American people are slowly girding their loins for any alternative or for any great adventure.
That is what this political campaign is really coming to be all about-the mobilization of the spiritual reserve of the people of the United States, the revitalization of the country through the breaking up of the deeps of National consciousness by the impulse of the terrible war. Is not this the inner meaning
of the war to the world? Germany divined aright the deplorable political and industrial and military weaknesses of Russia, England, and France. But Germany is beating her blind efficiency out against the rock of the spiritual reserve of Russia, England, and France. And it is the spiritual reserve which is the final test of the fitness of a people to survive.
The soul of the American people is in process of finding itself. And, if it finds itself in time, it is going to demand, even in the present campaign, the election of a government and a leadership as big as its own soul. It is a heavy task the two political parties have on hand. And they are so unfitted by tradition and practice to deal with it! It is entirely clear how the Democratic party and politicians will meet it. They must meet it on the record of the acts of the Democratic President and the Democratic Congress. And the country will determine and decide upon Democratic policy and leadership by what the party has accomplished in these critical years, and not by what it promises. Contrary to the predictions of the Republicans, the Democratic party will attempt to prove, and to a considerable extent will be able to prove, that it has been constructive upon some notable issues left over from long discussion in the past; that it has refused to be driven into war, or even to the brink of war, until every attempt had been made to obtain National honor through peace. Preparedness without militarism, prosperity without favoritism, peace without dishonor, is to be the Democratic slogan. And the country will then determine whether, on the whole, the Democratic party has shown itself fit to rule in the new and greater day of National preparation which is upon us; whether it gives promise of facing the fresh issue of a broad Americanism in a spirit and a fashion other than timid, halting, and ineffective.
But with the
Republican party the case is not so simple. As in 1912, so in 1916 the struggle is on for the soul of the Republican party. And there is not so much certainty that the soul of the Republican party will find itself as that the soul of the Nation will find itself. But the future usefulness and service of that party depend upon the outcome. On the one hand, there is the same tendency as in 1912 to obscure the issue, to lay the emphasis upon tariffs and full dinner-pails and tried Republicans" and shibboleths generally, instead of upon ideals.
THE PRE-NOMINATION CAMPAIGN
There is the same tendency to lower the standard in the midst of a great fight to suit the purpose and needs first of the commissariat and the camp-followers. There is a disposition to straddle and compromise, to blow hot and to blow cold about Americanism. But this is the attitude only of a powerful fragment of the board of control, of a group who have for a generation allied themselves with the interests and the purposes of the ruling political oligarchy. These men bear the same relation to the politics and patriotism of the United States that those Russian bureaucrats bear to the safety and progress of Russia who were recently disclosed as plotting for a separate peace with Germany on the ground that the war was advancing liberalism in Russia, and that Russian duplicity or defeat was preferable to the granting of liberal internal reforms. So our irreconcilable Bourbons would rather see their party pass on its way to extinction and their country rendered ignoble in the sight of the world. than yield one jot or tittle to the demands of progress or patriotism. And it is this element and this attitude which, above everything else, stand in the way of the sweeping success of the Republicans, who are regarded generally by the country as more able than the Democrats in the handiing particularly of measures of foreign policy.
But these plotters against their party and the common weal do not for a moment represent the attitude of the rank and file nor the best leadership of the Republicans. The Republican party has learned much in the last few years. It has learned that the day is past when the working class will follow it
blindly at the piping of catchwords and platitudes. The best leaders have learned that a haughty class antagonism to measures for the social amelioration of the wage-earners of America is as fatal to party success as it is to loyalty and patriotism. That was a most significant paragraph in the recent remarkable and unexpected tribute of the well-known Lemuel E. Quigg to Roosevelt when he said "There is no difference between Roosevelt and any other Republican on the fundamental principles of the party, no difference at all, except with regard to his social-call them, if you please, Socialistic-ideas. But for the moment these are in the background, and even there they have been gaining strength all the time. Am I my brother's keeper? From Cain to Christ, and with increasing force after every Christmas, the answer is, 'Yes, you are.
The Republican party is fighting within itself for its soul, for a policy and a leadership of National altruism and powerful American ism. Upon the outcome of the struggle depends the question as to whether, as in the days of its origin, it can further aid the Nation to find its own soul. We have a General Staff of Military Defense, but no staff of naval or industrial defense. In view of the real issue before the country, would it not be well if we had also a general staff of spiritual defense? O for an hour of Henry Ward Beecher and Phillips Brooks, or of old Bishop Simpson and Peter Cartwright! They were Americans through and through, and the Nation in other days listened to them gladly.
Washington, April 25, 1916.