Democracy, they tell us, is afflicted by medioc- rity and by sterility. But has not democracy in my country, as in yours, shown before now that it well knows how to choose rulers neither medi- ocre nor sterile; men more than the equals in unselfishness, in rectitude, in clear sight, in force, of any absolutist statesman, that ever in times past bore the scepter? If I live a few months, or it may be even a few weeks longer, I hope to have seen something of three elections — one in Canada, one in the United Kingdom, and the other here. With us, in respect of leadership, and apart from height of social prestige, the per- sonage corresponding to the president is, as you know, the prime minister. Our general election this time, owing to personal accident of the passing hour, may not determine quite exactly who shall be the prime minister, but it will de- termine the party from which the prime minister shall be taken. On normal occasions our election of a prime minister is as direct and personal as yours, and in choosing a member of Parliament people were really for a whole generation choos- ing whether Disraeli or Gladstone or Salisbury should be head of the government.
The one central difference between your system and ours is that the American president is in for a fixed time, whereas the British prime minister depends upon the support of the House of Com- mons. If he loses that; his power may not en- dure a twelvemonth; if on the other hand, he keeps it, he may hold office for a dozen years. 223