Page:Earth-Hunger and Other Essays.djvu/354

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328
EARTH HUNGER AND OTHER ESSAYS

the appeal which, as we all know, moves the Congressman; an argument as to economic loss or gain may not reach him, but party interest is the supreme motive. The unanimity of the vote proves nothing as to the convictions of Congressmen on the measure, but only as to the excellence of the party discipline. When the question came up before the House, the Democrats complained that they were only allowed to propose a single substitute, to which Mr. Dalzell replied: "The generosity of the Republican party is demonstrated in its letting the Democrats propose any substitute at all."[1] That is, of course, the final point in that theory of our institutions. The victorious party in an election is regarded as having conquered the country; it takes the spoils and gives or allows to the minority as a boon, given in contempt, what it sees fit.

There is nothing new in all this. We have seen it grow up and take shape within a generation. I do not now speak of it because I want to criticize the political tendencies of today, but because I want to come to this question: What reasonable ground is there to expect that out of this method of political action any contribution to the wise solution of economic questions can come? There is no reason to expect it. On the contrary, we can only expect that all political interference will disturb and complicate economic problems.

I am a pessimist as to the political future because I do not believe in these methods of action on questions which affect complicated interests and rights. I have said above that, in the past, the interests threatened by laws and decisions have succeeded in warding off harm. I do not doubt that they will do it again, but that means that, in the long run, they will corrupt the political insti-

  1. New York Times, February 7, 1905.