The Republican Party/Review and Prospect
REVIEW AND PROSPECT
It would require a far more voluminous work than the present to give even a brief synopsis of the multitudinous acts of legislation and administration which the Republican party has performed for the good of the people through the national government, beside other volumes to tell of its achievements in and through the various state and local governments. The present work has been confined entirely to national affairs and has perforce mentioned, even briefly, only a few of those great principles, policies and specific acts which have indicated the general purpose of the party and have been the landmarks and mileposts of its progress.
We might have dwelt upon the reduction of postage rates, the establishment of the money order system, the development of the railway mail service and the free delivery system, which have made our postal service the best in the world; the artificial propagation and distribution of food fish; the free distribution of seeds and other measures for the promotion of agriculture; the international copyright law which has removed from the publishing trade the imputation of piracy, and which protects at once the property rights of authors and the business interests of American publishers; the national bankruptcy acts, which relieved thousands of unfortunate men of their burdens and enabled them to regain business prosperity; the Circuit Court of Appeals which has greatly expedited and facilitated legal processes; the pure food law and inspection system and the meat inspection system for safeguarding the health of the people; the freeing from tax of denatured alcohol for use in the arts; and the national quarantine system against contagious diseases.
It was the Republican party that empowered the Interstate Commerce Commission to fix railway rates, that penalized rebates and other discriminations, that prohibited the abuse of railway passes, that made sleeping cars, express companies and pipe lines common carriers, required to serve all patrons impartially; that built the Panama Canal; that reorganized the consular service on the merit basis; that created a permanent Census Bureau; that brought the telephone and telegraph systems under government control under the Interstate Commerce act; that created the Postal Savings Bank system; that incorporated the Red Cross; that conserved coal lands by reserving to the government title to the deposits, while agricultural entries of the surface lands were permitted; that established the national forestry system; that provided for publicity of campaign contributions; and that promoted the irrigation of arid land areas.
Other Republican measures for the general good were the reorganization of the lighthouse service; the creation of a bureau of mines to lessen the dangers of operatives in that industry; the extended application of safety devices on railroads; the imposition of heavy penalties for the interstate white slave traffic; strong regulations for the prevention of accidents at sea; the parole of Federal prisoners whose conduct after conviction warrants clemency; the conservation of water-power sites; the creation of a Commission of Fine Arts; the creation of national parks. The record of Republican achievement is the record of the nation's progress.
Mention has been made of various minor parties which have disported themselves in every presidential campaign. There have been many more, the very names of some of which are forgotten. They have run their little course and passed away, like the “Quids” and “Hunkers” and Barn Burners” and “Silver Grays” and others which represented divisions in the major parties rather than separate organizations. The chief record which they have made has been one of vain futility. Free soil was secured and vindicated, but not by the ephemeral Free Soil party. Slavery was abolished, but it was not the Abolition party that did the great work. The Union and the Constitution were preserved, but not through the efforts of the Constitutional Union party. After the stormy passions of the war had passed, liberal principles of reconstruction prevailed, but it was not the Liberal party that enforced them. Prohibition has been enacted, but the Prohibition party has never carried a single national election. As these pages are written, woman suffrage is at the point of final triumph, but the Woman Suffrage party has never seriously figured in an electoral campaign.
The lesson is obvious and, as it was suggested at the beginning as something to be illustrated in this history, so it may be recurred to at the close, as something which every chapter in the record emphasizes. The American government is a government through parties, and through two major parties and them alone. It is thus alone that responsibility can be fixed and stability assured. A multiplicity of parties, no one having a majority, was tried for years in our sister republic of France, with the result of half a dozen changes of ministry in a year and more zigzagging than straightforward progress. Under our system it might not cause changes of cabinets, but it would conduce to all manner of “deals” among the various factions, would diffuse instead of centering responsibility and would make public affairs the subject of dicker and bargain.
The thoughtful American citizen will therefore affiliate himself with one or the other of the two great parties which have survived the births and deaths of scores of ephemeral organizations, the two great parties to which must be credited all the good and against which must be charged all the evil in our government for the last two-thirds of a century.
It is our hope and expectation that this brief account of the Republican party, of what it has stood for and what it stands for today, will assist in convincing an impressive majority of the new voters of the United States that it is the party which on the whole record is the more worthy of their choice. “I have,” said Patrick Henry, “but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging the future but by the past.” If that wise rule be followed by the voters of 1920 and the subsequent years, they will prudently judge from the past record of the Republican party that it is the party to which the future interests of the nation are most safelybe committed. They will affiliate themselves with it, with a serene assurance that so long as its principles and practices prevail, “government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”