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Bryan or McKinley? The Present Duty of American Citizens.
The Presidential Election - Our Duty.
by North American Review, The

Government by party, which seems essential under present conditions, furnishes platforms which usually commend themselves unreservedly to supporters; being made not so much to stand upon as to get in upon, nothing is proclaimed in them which is likely to offend any section of the party. Points likely to meet with disfavor are either ignored or smothered in meaningless platitudes. But occasions arise when the supporter who regards parties only as means to ends, differs from the official rulers and makers of platforms upon a vital issue, and he is then called upon to consider seriously whether it be of such paramount importance as to make it his duty to refrain from voting, or even to vote against his party. The former course is adopted frequently, the latter rarely; nevertheless it sometimes becomes our duty to go to this extreme.

In the last Presidential campaign the Gold Democrats reached the first stage and refused to vote for the candidate of their party, but did not generally vote for the opposing candidate. A candidate of their own was nominated; but many felt the standard of value to be of such vital importance as to dwarf all other considerations, and, preferring Country to Party, left their party, to support the Republican candidate. Those who did so were certainly actuated by a compelling sense of duty, for the leaving of party by loyal members is equivalent to the breaking up of family relations hitherto harmonious and happy. It is the last resort, only justified when all else has failed. We should labor long and hard for reform within our party before attempting to enforce reform upon it from without, yet it is not among the unswerving supporters of party that a country in times of trial finds its saviours. My party, right or wrong ! and My country, right or wrong ! are the cries of those who can never be of the highest value as citizens, or safe guides in a national crisis. On the contrary, these are the most dangerous of all classes to their countrys welfare; for parties and States are bound to regard what is right and must be opposed by those whose conscience is awakened to wrongdoing by either. The most precious citizen is the man who will go with his country or his party only if it be right, but who upon occasion hesitates not to condemn either when in his opinion it champions the wrong. It is not those who support but those who rebuke the wrong, whether of country or party, who are the salt of a nation, and truly patriotic. History abounds in instances where the voice and action of the few have saved a country, or have so impressed it that it has been deterred from following in a wrong path into which it has strayed. This is particularly true in regard to questions involving Peace or War. Among the axioms of the demagogue, none is considered safer than this: Show the people sport and they will follow you, the sport being the killing of men by men in battle under the name of war. It is so easy to wave the flag and carry the excited masses into bloodshed, but how low has the statesman sunk who descends to this! Dr. Johnson said to Boswell that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. It is also the sure resort of the demagogue. War is always a winning card for the scheming politician to play when differences arise between nations, because it appeals to the baser part of man, dethrones divine reason, exalts brutal passion, excites the traits man shares with the brute which degrade humanity

Our own country is young and its record, until recently, has been free from the crime of aggressive warfare upon other civilized peoples. The War for Independence was righteous, being in defence of constitutional liberties, which we should ever stand ready to defend. Its triumph benefited both oppressor and oppressed. It is better for Britain and for America that the one should be independent of the other. The War of 1812 was in defence of rights assailed upon the sea, and what the Republic fought for is now established. The War for the Union was equally for the benefit of North and South, of slave and of master. It preserved for all a common country.

It is from Britain, the elder branch of our English-speaking race, that the most valuable lessons are to be derived as to the folly of aggressive wars. The war against the American Colonies is now admitted by all parties in Britain to have been a mistake. The whole campaign against Napoleon, which still loads Britain with her huge national debt, is now seen to have been a mistake also. Under similar conditions, it would not be entered upon today. As to the Crimean War against Russia, Lord Salisbury has recently stated that it was a great blunder. The men most highly honored in British history, as having been the true guides who pointed out the path their country should follow and denounced its errors, are Burke and Chatham, who denounced the American War; Bright and Cobden, who denounced the Crimean War; not George the Third and Lord North, nor the Jingoes who howled for the Crimean War against Russia. These now stand in their proper places as false guides, and, if truth be spoken, in many cases as demagogues, who played the card of war simply because that was the issue upon which they could ride to or retain power. The same fate awaits those who have precipitated war against the South African Republics, upon the pretence that they were concerned to make it easier for Britons there to abandon citizenship and become Afrikanders. Not these men, but Campbell-Bannerman, Harcourt, Morley, Courtney, Sir Edward Clarke and their colleagues are soon to be held in esteem, and extolled as the true patriots who protested against the wrong. In due season, also, those of our Republican party who drove the President into war and the purchase of the Philippines, against his own wise desires, will occupy a position similar to that of the British Jingoes. If there be one duty which a man of influence has to perform to his country higher than another, it is to refrain from arousing the passions of the people against other nations and to keep them in the paths of peace. Humanity has travelled far and upward in the ages past, but there still remains in us a sub-stratum of the savage, far too readily moved to draw the sword and kill. He who appeals to this as a means of popularity must despise himself, and in the court of his own conscience stand ever condemned, the most torturing punishment that can fall upon man.

In the present Presidential campaign, many Republicans who, like the writer, voted for the first Republican ticket and never voted any other than a Republican ticket, are called upon to consider the departure of the official leaders of their party from the policy of the Republic, in the purchase and attempted conquest of the Filipinos, with the intention of holding their country as conquered territory and not as part of the Union, with its citizens equal under the flag The Union is to be composed not of one homogeneous whole, the flag is to wave not over citizens possessed of equal rights, but we are to follow the example of the military nations of Europe and endeavor to govern far distant peoples as subjects not citizens, vassals not freemen. No more complete reversal of doctrines hitherto held precious by Americans can be conceived. In this attempt, up to last returns, we have already sacrificed 5,467 men killed or wounded, and squandered 186 millions of dollars, no doubt over two hundred millions to date, and constantly increasing, all wrung from the people by additional taxation. We have sent 81,000 soldiers to one of the twelve hundred islands we forced Spain to sell us for twenty millions of dollars, contrary to the instructions first given to the Peace Commissioners. Sixty-three thousand soldiers still remain there, and this force, more than double the entire standing army of the United States until recently, is still required to keep down the people. Hence, sufficient force could not be spared from Manila to rescue our Ambassador at Pekin. One writer states that four thousand of them are in hospital; thus wastes our army away! And we only hold the region around Manila; all else of the 115,000 square miles of the territory we claim to have bought and are vainly hoping to conquer remains, as before, unvisited by our force. This is a serious situation.

The question which the member of the Republican party has to decide at this juncture is, whether this mis-step be sufficient to cause him to refrain from voting for its nominee, or even to vote against him. Before this can be decided, we must consider the alternative and its consequences, for our acts are right or wrong in political life according to the results to be avoided or attained for our country through them. It is to-day a question of weighing differing results against each other and deciding upon which side the balance of good lies.

Let us therefore consider the platforms of the contending parties.

The Republican platform is vague upon the anti-American idea of permanent, conquered, foreign dependencies outside of the Union. It says: " Our authority could not be less than our responsibility; and wherever sovereign rights are extended, it becomes the high duty of the government to maintain its authority, to put down armed insurrection, and to confer the blessings of liberty and civilization upon all the rescued peoples. The largest measure of self-government consistent with their welfare and our duties shall be secured to them by law. To Cuba independence and self-government were assured in the same voice by which war was declared, and to the letter this pledge shall be performed."

No serious objection need be urged to this, except that we do not believe that the payment of two dollars per head for ten millions of the Filipinos can give sovereign rights over men, nor that Spain could give clear title against our allies the Filipino patriots, who had risen against her in righteous rebellion for independence. But the important point is that our party here pledges itself anew in its platform to give Cuba independence and self-government, fit work for the party of Freedom. What we should continue to press upon the party is to consider whether it would not be best to promise the Filipinos what we have promised the Cubans. It does not seem good sense to pursue a different policy for them. Admiral Dewey is not the only one who assures us that they are better qualified to govern themselves than the Cubans. What was good and wise policy for the one seems so for the other. We have encouraged the highest aspirations of the latter for independence, as President McKinley so finely said. We see here that the true mission of our giant republic lies in the creation and protection of the new republic of Cuba. We should one day, and not long hence, make our country the mother of nations, and regard the Republic of Cuba and the first Republic of the Orient as our noblest work, in line with the emancipation of our slaves. There is nothing in our platform antagonistic to this policy. The Republican party is the only proper agency for this sublime task. The Democratic party has earned no right by virtue of its past record to rob our party of its heritage.

The apologetic note is heard more and more touching the Philippines, which are rapidly proving themselves in every respect undesirable, and few indeed fail to express the wish in private, though their tongues may be silent in public, that the President had adhered to his original instructions to the Peace Commissioners. We shall probably soon return to the true path, welcoming expansion of contiguous territory where we can grow our own race and enrol them as citizens, but refraining from forcing our rule upon others in far distant lands or from ever accepting the idea that the American flag can permanently float over any but citizens possessed of equal rights, members of the one glorious Union, "now and forever indivisible."

Along with the platform, we are bound to consider the Man who is to steer the Ship of State under its provisions. Much depends upon him. What, then, of President McKinley, if his official career is to be extended over a second term? What manner of man is he? No one who knows Mr. McKinley and his life can fail to wish for him, as an individual, many long years of unclouded happiness, for every domestic virtue is his. His place as a man is securely fixed in all hearts; but his official place in history, as one who has filled the highest political office upon the earth, we trust is not to be determined by his past, but by his future conduct of affairs; for, were he to retire at the end of his first term, his position must rank low indeed, for he would leave his country still involved in one of the most complete failures of modern times, the attempt to bring forth from his Pandora box, the Philippines, any result other than deplorablea Sisyphean labor in which success is impossible.

The writer believes that the President, freed from the many embarrassments which hamper all Presidents during their first term, will prove more of a master, and that more of the President and less of his party managers will prove most advantageous for the country. He has been much wiser than others in the party who have shouted loudest. Let it never be forgotten that he was sound upon the question of war, and that his hand was cruelly forced by men far his inferiors in statesmanship. Again, he was entirely right in regard to the Philippines, as his instructions to the Peace Commissioners prove. Here, again, the shouting crowds, backed by political managers, drove him into a reversal of his wise policy. He was right, also, in regard to Porto Rico, but compelled by his political managers to retract, and agree to the present discreditable legislation. The writer has no desire to imply that, in his opinion, the party managers were not right in their view that an extension of our laws to Porto Rico, with the dark shadow of the Philippines behind, would have disrupted our party. He believes that the masses of working-men, both in agriculture and manufacturing, upon whom our party rests, will never agree to the free introduction of the products of tropical possessions; hence the mistake, in his opinion, of our party persisting in the effort to attach the Philippines or merge them into our political system. But Porto Rico being now a part of the Union, merged as a strategic base never to be surrendered, the President was right in holding it to be our plain duty to give it all the rights of Union

Thus, upon all these important issues, the President has shown true statesmanship, and gives foundation for the hope that, during his second term, with the people at his back, he will show increased and justifiable confidence in his own conclusions, lie would be his own wisest counsellor, if he had a proper estimate of his own remarkable insight and faculty for grasping at once the true bearing of public affairs.

The marked success, thus far, of his management of tbe dangerous Chinese question, when Congress and party leaders are fortunately scattered, is another case in point. Left to himself, he has succeeded in giving our country a position never before attained in international affairs, and kept our government right when all others were wrong, Russia perhaps excepted, whose views were withheld until recently from public expression. The United States hare taken and held the leading position among the cooperating nations from the start, and seem now to be the natural mediator through whom peace is to be restored. A higher honor for the Republic could not be imagined than that she should be the blessed instrument to bring about peace among men.

There is thus abundant reason to hope that President McKinley may yet shape events in such a way as to be able to repeat to the Filipinos his few potent words to the Cubans, promising his aid and protection in establishing a free and independent government, thus "realizing their highest aspirations." These few words would change the entire situation and give him rank with the greatest; for the future would then remember him as the Father, not the Suppressor, of the first Republic of the Orient, which, like the Cuban Republic, would come slowly but steadily forth under his fostering care. Next to Lincoln's emancipation of our own oppressed, this act would rank in the history of his country. Here lies true glory for a patriot to win for the Republic. Some President will win it; but we shall not believe that the prize is not reserved for President McKinley, and for the Republican party, to which such work properly belongs. It was born to emancipate, not to enslave. If it ceases to create Citizens, and creates and rules over Vassals to whom it denies equality in the Union, it deserves to die.

When we study the Democratic platform we find that its Americanism, as opposed to Imperialism, rings true. It stands, as the writer feels, for the true policy, the only policy consistent with the fundamental ideas which gave birth to the Republic, and to which it must hold true or fall from its hitherto proud position among the nations of the earth. It is also American in every syllable against militarism, and the huge standing army for which our party is responsible, but which, let us hope, the coming Congress is to reduce. It is right upon Porto Rico, where it occupies the Presidents first position, and tells the people our "plain duty." It is right in regard to Cuba; but here our party, the writer rejoices to say, is in full accord. It is right, also, in regard to expansion. It is right in condemning the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty as un-American. It is right in regard to the Boers. It is right in regard to the speedy repeal of war taxes, but here again our party is equally so. One of the first acts of the new Congress, both from a party and a national point of view, should be the repeal of many petty, irritating taxes which should never have been imposed.

This being said, all has been said that can be urged in favor of the Democratic ticket. The most serious objection to it is not the proposed lowering of the standard of value, serious though that be. It lies in the insidious attacks upon the Supreme Court, which strike at the foundations of human society. It saps the roots of peace and order, and, if successful, substitutes license for law, and throws us back to barbarism, even to savagery. Without courts of law and profound reverence for their final decisions, which should be considered as sacred, we have nothing, for it is upon these that civilization rests. President McKinley at present stands for war and violence abroad, but Mr. Bryan stands for these scourges at home. Whatever Democrats may urge in explanation, or as to the literal meaning of the words employed, the fact remains that an attack is made in the platform of a political party upon a decision of the Supreme Court, the highest and grandest of all human tribunals the world has ever seen, and which, being undermined, there remains only civil disorder. It is not possible to support a party whose platform contains such an attack; better, far better, continue for a time the wrongful effort to force our government upon the Filipinos, in total disregard of Republican ideas, than fail to repel this covert attack upon the reign of law at home.

The Silver Issue, as a question for discussion, is a "back number." The only argument against the highest standard of value which had plausibility was the quantitative theory, which would be right if gold and silver were used for exchanges. But it is groundless from the simple fact that for only five per cent. of exchanges are the metals used; to the extent of ninety-five per cent. they are transacted upon credit, and it is this vast fabric of credit, upon which the business of the world rests, that the threatened change of the standard of value would throw into confusion. The trifling five per cent. for which the metals are used need scarcely be taken into account. Since the supply of gold has been and is being so surprisingly augmented at a ratio ever increasing, Mr. Bryan is too late, for the question is no longer the scarcity of gold, but rather its threatened superabundance, as far as the stability of the standard is concerned, according to the quantitative theory, upon which Mr. Bryan has hitherto stood. Not a voice is heard any longer in any other part of the world against the gold standard. When the Democratic platform talks of international bimetallism, it harks back to a bygone delusion which all other nations have discarded. Fiat money is now the only lure that can hereafter be tried with any hope of winning votes; the monetization of silver having been discussed, decided, and laughed out of court throughout the world. Nevertheless, we cannot disguise the fact that the election of Mr. Bryan would undoubtedly cause apprehension to the timid, and a few timid men suffice to make a panic; for there is no chord more sensitive than the credit upon which ninety-five per cent. of all business rests. Mr. Bryan as President, with a Secretary of the Treasury of like views, might resolve to pay in silver as being coin - a course which would bring financial panic in every channel of business in an hour. In saying this, we pay Mr. Bryan the deserved compliment of recognizing that he has convictions, and that the danger of panic and all the suffering it entails to the toiling masses, who are ever the worst sufferers, is in exact proportion to the faith his countrymen have in his honesty and fidelity to principle. We all fear, and have a right to fear, that with a reputation for devotion to principle akin to that earned by Lincoln, Mr. Bryan would support and try to enforce his convictions. This means a President, with all the influence a President has in Senate and House, which is generally potent, determined by every means in his power to throw the exchanges of the country into chaos. We cannot be a party to aid his elevation to power, strongly as we approve his true Americanism as far as Imperialism goes, or deeply as his character and ability have impressed us. An earnest, honest man in the wrong is more to be dreaded than the average politician, who changes with the wind. Mr. Bryan is much too earnest, too sincere and true to be entrusted with power, filled as he is with ideas subversive of economic laws, and of the laws upon which our complex human society rests.

The Democratic platform favors an income tax, which Mr. Gladstone declared tended to make a nation of liars. So deeply impressed was he with its injurious effects upon the national character that he resolved to repeal it. That a true American can favor the miserable espionage required to enforce it is surprising. Nothing would be more un-American than to subject every man's business and financial affairs to the scrutiny of government officials, who would be in many cases affiliated with rival concerns or possible competitors in the future. The tax was cheerfully borne for some years duing the War for the Union, and would be again under similar circumstances, although it would be a grave mistake to resort to it. The tariff is a far better instrument for assessing the rich, more effective, and free from objectionable espionage. The writer believes in collecting the revenues, as far as possible, from the rich, and favors heavy death taxes upon estates in lieu of income tax. There is no reason why the necessary expenditures of the government should not come chiefly from this class through such taxes, and through the tariff. When we tire of our Philippine policy - as we shall ere long - and reduce our army to its normal number, sufficient revenue will be easily secured. Costly foreign wines, tobacco, laces, silks, linens, broadcloth, and the thousand and one luxuries we import, should be made to pay excessively high duties. Domestic products are used by the masses; and those Americans who indulge in foreign articles, which are really luxuries, should be made to pay for their fastidious tastes as a matter of revenue. To tax foreign luxuries heavily and to collect a high percentage of death duties upon estates should be the policy, instead of exposing every mans business affairs and giving the dishonest the advantage over the honest, as all experience shows an income tax does, and must do in the nature of things.

Besides this, an income tax involves the creation of an enormous staff of permanent officials, who have in their keeping a knowledge of the private affairs of their fellow-citizens, dangerous to all. Even if these officials were appointed, as in Britain, substantially for life, the tax would soon be found intolerable in a new land like ours, free from a distinct and permanent official class unconnected with business aiff airs and leading lives as members of a profession apart from the people in general. We have in Mr. Bryan an extraordinary man - a typical American, as President McKinley himself is, a product that only American soil can grow - a man of the people in every fibre, like McKinley and Lin- coln; but his career shows that the theoretical and superficial views of affairs still captivate him. He seems not to have studied down to the root of things, and he has yet to learn how often the theoretical and practical effects of legislation differ. In theory there is no tax fairer than that upon income, in practice none so injurious to a nation.

Again, we must believe that had he duly considered the effect of dragging the judicial decisions of our final Court of Appeal into the arena of party politics, he could not have sanctioned so flagrant a violation of the theory upon which our Constitution rests, which is that, over and above the Legislative and Executive, which constitute the Political Department, there sits the final and supreme Arbiter, the Judicial, in the calm atmosphere of Law, removed from the passion and violence of party, unmoved by political change, settling all disputes finally, and thus decreeing and enforcing peace among all persons and all parties, and even among the States themselves. In this Tribunal rests our assurance of continued peaceful development. The party which drags its judgments into a political campaign should be defeated. We should reverence above all other institutions the Supreme Court; it is so distinctively American, and is perhaps the most precious, as it is the most original, of all the features of that perfect work, the American Constitution. The elevation of the Judicial above the Political is almost unknown, and is wholly so among English speaking people, save with us; with all others the Political Parliament is supreme. There is thus nothing more American than the Supreme Court. Mr. Bryan's Americanism is sound only so far as Imperialism goes. Upon the Income Tax, and - infinitely more serious - upon the Supreme Court, the ark of our national covenant, he is no more American than President McKinley is at present upon his own truly American doctrines of "Criminal Aggression" and "plain duty."

We find many dangers ahead in Mr. Bryan's success. First: that of License instead of Law at home, in our very midst, through political denunciation of judicial decisions. Second: not Gold and Silver, but Silver alone, since an inferior drives out a superior currency. This means defrauding Labor to the extent of one-half of its earnings under the gold standard, and the loss to the people of one-half of their savings in Banks, since these savings, which are now repayable in gold, would then be repaid in silver. Third: a Tax upon the Incomes of citizens, inaugurating an un-American system of espionage demoralizing to the national character.

We find against President McKinley's success a threatened continuance of the costly and unsuccessful attempt to suppress the laudable aspirations of the Filipinos for the independence of their country, in accordance with the American idea of the rights of man, which he has promised the Cubans, and for which Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Adams, and the fathers of our country rebelled and Washington drew the sword. Mr. Bryan would bring upon his countrymen all the evils of civil strife at home, by undermining our courts of law. President McKinley's policy only requires our soldiers to shoot down men abroad guilty of the crime of fighting and dying for their countrys independence. Class once arrayed against class at home, all is lost; restoration of peace and order could only come in a far distant future; whereas the employment of our forces in suppressing Filipinos abroad must be a matter of to-day only, for it is incredible that the people will tolerate this waste of men and money much longer. The writer believes that the end of it is near; but, even if he were mistaken, and it were left for the Opposition at a subsequent election to drive his party from power in Congress and restore the true policy by refusing to maintain the present huge standing army necessary for the purpose, he sees clearly and beyond doubt that his duty as a citizen is to support the nominee of the Republican party in the present contest, as being that party which alone can preserve the country from threatened dangers at home, so serious as to overshadow all other issues, and also as the party which will, in the future as in the past, administer the government for the highest and best interests of the Republic.

The Party of Protection of American Industries, of Internal Improvements, the Party of the Union, of Emancipation, and of the Highest Standard of Value for the moncy of the people, the Party of Cuba Free and Independent, is not to be deserted for its failure so far to perform this same sacred duty to the Philippines. On the contrary, the party which has been for a generation the guardian of our country, and whose wise legislation has secured its present commanding position, may wisely be trusted to find the lost path and return to it, thus retrieving its error.

This the writer believes is to be the certain and not remote result, and for that end he shall continue to exert whatever influence he may possess or acquire, within, not without, the party for which he cast his first vote and for which he hopes to cast his last, and in this he is proud to follow Ex-Speaker Reed, Senators Hoar, Hale, Mason, ex-Senator Edmunds and others, statesmen eminent alike for party and personal service and for personal character.



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