Confidence in Government

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Confidence in Government  (1920) 
by James M. Cox
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We desire industrial peace. We want our people to have an abiding confidence in government. But no readjustment made under reactionary auspices will carry with it the confidence of the country. If we were asked to name in these trying days the first essential overshadowing every other consideration, the response would be — confidence in government. It would be nothing less than a calamity if the next administration were elected under corrupt auspices.

There is unrest in the country. Our people have passed through a trying experience. The European war, before it engulfed us, aroused every racial throb in a nation of composite citizenship. The conflict in which we participated carried anxieties into every community, and thousands upon thousands of homes were touched by tragedy. The inconveniences incident to the war have been disquieting. The failure of the Republican Congress to repeal annoying taxes is added to our troubles.

The natural impulse is to forget the past, to develop new interests, to create a [refreshened] and refreshing atmosphere in life. We want to forget war, and to be free from the troubling thought of its possibility in the future. We want the dawn and the dews of a new morning. We want happiness in the land — the feeling that the square deal among men in government is not to be interfered with by a purchased preference. We want a change from the Old World of yesterday, where international intrigue made the people mere pawns on the chessboard of war. We want a change from the old industrial world, where the man who toiled was assured a full dinner pail as his only lot and portion.

But how are we to make the change? Which way shall we go? We stand at the forks of the road and must choose which way to follow. One leads to a higher citizenship, a freer expression of the individual and a fuller life for all. The other leads to reaction, the rule of the few over the many, and the restriction of the average man's chances to grow upward. Cunning devices, backed by unlimited prodigal expenditures, will be used to confuse and to lure. But I have an abiding faith that the pitfalls will be avoided and the right road chosen.

The leaders opposed to democracy promise to put the country back to normal. This can only mean the so-called normal of former reactionary administrations, the outstanding feature of which was a pittance for farm produce and a small wage for a long day of toil. My vision does not turn backwards to the normal desires of the senatorial oligarchy, but to a future in which all shall have a normal opportunity to cultivate a higher stature amidst better environments than that of the past. Our view is toward the sunrise with its progress and its eternal promise of better things. The opposition stands in the skyline of the setting sun looking backwards, backwards to the old days of reaction.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1957, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 50 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.