Page:The North American Review Volume 145.djvu/8

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2THE NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.
 

of 1884 accomplished. Now that the Republican party has lost control of the National Executive and no disaster has occurred, and the Democratic party has gained it and no particular good been done, the old prejudices, old fears, old hopes, old habits of thought and touch, are so broken down that new issues can readily come to the front and new alignments of political forces take place.

The process of disintegration and reconstruction is now going on. The growth of the Prohibition party on the one side and of a labor party on the other, and the readiness with which Republicans and Democrats have united in some of the recent municipal elections when threatened with what seemed to them a common danger show how rapidly.

The prohibition movement, a natural effort to bring into politics, in the absence of larger questions, a matter on which a great body of men and women feel strongly, is in itself a significant evidence of the disposition to turn to social questions, but the great movement now beginning in the rise of the Labor party takes hold of these questions lower down, and whatever importance prohibition may for some time retain in local politics, the drawing of political lines on a wider and deeper issue must throw its supporters to one side or the other of the larger question.

The deepest of all issues is now beginning to force its way into our politics, and in the nature of things it must produce a change that will compel men to take their stand on one side or the other, irrespective of their views on smaller questions. Of all social adjustments, that which fixes the relation between men and the land they live on is the most important, and it is that which is coming up now.

It has been, of course, for a long time evident that American politics, in the future, must turn upon the social or industrial questions, and while the questions growing out of the slavery struggle have been losing importance, these questions have been engaging more and more thought, and arousing stronger and stronger feeling. "What men are thinking about, and feeling about, and disputing about, must, ere long, become the burning question of politics, and the organization of labor, the massing of capital, the increasing intensity of the struggle for existence, and the increasing bitterness under it, have for years made it clear that in one shape or another the great labor question must succeed the