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III

If the heavy sacrifices made to party interest at every point of the constitutional sphere could be justified by the necessity of securing at all hazards the benefits of "party government," supposed to be alone capable of supplying the framework for a government by public opinion, the sacrifices have been made almost in vain; far from securing these benefits the Caucus has nullified them in the majority of cases. Party organization has, according to some, made it possible to establish in the American government, based on the separation of powers, the necessary co-ordination between them, to bring the isolated organs of government, namely, the executive and the legislative, into a unity of views and of action. To judge how far party organization has really succeeded in bringing about this agreement between the two powers, and in providing the connecting link supplied by the Cabinet in a government of the English type, it is enough to recall a simple fact: from the retirement of Jackson down to the advent to power of McKinley, apart from the period of the civil war and of the Reconstruction, when the South was not represented or not normally represented in Congress, there has not been a single instance of the President and the majority of the two Houses being of the same party throughout the presidential term. In one or the other House, if not in both, the majority has belonged to the party opposed to the President, at least during the second half of each presidential administration, after the biennial renewal of the House of Representatives, which has almost invariably broken up the majority of the President's party. If the Caucus did contribute towards establishing harmony between the President and Congress, it was only through the prostitution of the presidential patronage to the members of Congress which it had brought about.

The party Organization was all the less capable of ensuring the co-ordination of powers by legitimate and, so to speak, natural means, that it did not bring into Congress, except in times of crises, compact majorities united by identical principles and aspirations, in which the national conscience was reflected. Principles which might serve as a cement for the parties were a dissolvent for the party Organization, based on the spoils system; the grouping of electors in accordance with their views on the great problems raised by the course of political life was, for the Organization, a menace to the permanence of its fabric, to the very foundation of its existence. To preserve the external unity of the party therefore, that is to say, the name and style under which it conducted its operations, the Organization was always trying to make away with the gravest political problems, which had not yet been irrevocably solved, “to agree to disagree," to juggle with principles and programmes, down to assuming different attitudes on the same question in different parts of the country, according to local interests or prejudices; to taking up on its own account, according to the pressure of the moment and the requirements of the game, causes which it had disregarded or was even opposing the day before. Under these circumstances a party, as a rule, represented nothing but a sign which covered divergences of views, soinetimes more profound, and struggles of factions, sometimes more bitter, than those which set it at variance with the opposite party. From the first disintegration of parties, which followed the eclipse of the old ruling class and of the traditional leadership, towards the close of the first quarter of the past century, and ever since the democratized Caucus has undertaken to focus public opinion by means of party conventions, the great parties, viewed as a whole, have been throughout their career nothing but agglomerates artificially brought together and kept together -- except the original Republican party, the party of Lincoln, called into existence by a single problem, which sharply divided the public mind. Separated by conventional lines of demarcation, they had no personality of their own, and each drew its self-consciousness from the existence of the other. From time to time the unreality of this situation, and the demoralization which it brought about, evoked cries of revolt, movements of protest in the form of “third parties.” Incoherent or inspired by good sense, these outbursts were more or less speedily drowned by the perennial coalition of sordid interests and the traditional prejudices of party orthodoxy, of "regularity."

But the effects of the iron discipline enforced by this coalition, which the party Organization promoted and directed, did not extend very far beyond the electoral sphere; they could scarcely cross the threshold of Congress. Claiming to reduce the variety of opinions and interests to a single formula, the Organization of the party in reality ended by making up the House in such a way that, according to the remark quoted above, all interests were represented in it but the general interest. This result, an apparently unexpected one, was the necessary consequence of the mechanical fashion in which the Organization linked the varied contingents of its electoral army, and of the spirit and purpose in which it pursued its undertaking. Always endeavouring to throw a veil over divergences of views and to eliminate principles, it substituted for the process of analysis and synthesis of opinions, which ought to take place in the electorate to create a legislative assembly animated by one mind and one will, a purely artificial analysis and synthesis, obtained by the saving grace of the party label. As soon as the manifold interests jumbled together under this label got admittance into the House, they naturally reverted to their own particular aspirations, like a bent spring which recovers itself. The party Organization no longer had to repress these centrifugal tendencies, for its object was already attained; its sole concern being to manage the elections and win the prize in the form of patronage and other advantages. The American party Organization takes hardly any interest in the sayings and doings of its Representatives in the House, unlike the English caucuses, which follow the conduet of their members, from one sitting to another, so to speak, which scrutinize their votes and put a certain pressure on them to keep them straight. The American Organization, absorbed in the election business, could hardly do likewise, for want of a general criterion to apply to the behaviour of the Representatives. This test cannot be a conformity with the principles, with the doctrines of the party, since the Organization has none; it does not aim at the triumph of a political creed. It cannot even enforce on its representatives the external conformity which consists in falling in behind certain men, behind leaders; the parties have no recognized leaders in Congress, there is no official head of the majority or of the opposition. An Organization may, no doubt, be interested in a certain vote in the House which closely affects its powerful financial supporters, and, in consequence, put pressure on its representatives; but in that case it does but act for or strengthen one of the numerous private interests into which the House is split up. The interest of the party, viewed from the standpoint of its name and style, also counts for something in the House, that is to say that in many cases the representatives have to consider how their vote will affect their party situation before the electors; but as these cases are very far from occurring at each vote, the interest of the party is not strong enough to override all the other interests.

Thus, by a paradoxical but perfectly natural contrast, party discipline, so strict in the electoral sphere, is slack in Congress, being constantly relaxed by the play of the unco-ordinated private interests which not unfrequently makes the parties cross each other. As there are no principles underlying this confused mass of varied interests, the latter agree only by "deals "; they deal among themselves (log-rolling); they deal with the executive; they deal, in their own mind, with what they imagine to be the popular will or whim, with the county of Buncombe. The system of numerous permanent small committees in which the real work of legislation is done has developed this régime of do ut des just as it has been developed thereby: the deals are made more easily in the semi-obscurity of hole-and-corner meetings than in the full light of public discussion. The atmosphere of Congress is, as it were, saturated with opportunist habits of compromise, or with fatalistic resignation. Opposition, in the parliamentary sense of the word, systematic opposition does not exist in it; there is no scope for it there: a man will sacrifice himself for his creed, will go to battle for his ideas, will take his stand on a principle; but where there are neither ideas nor principles at stake, differences can only end in compromises or surrenders. Interests always unite more than superficial divergences of opinion separate. In fact, in the highest legislative assembly of the Union, in the Senate of the United States, Senators of either party may be seen combining against the executive, or separating from the bulk of their party in this or that conjuncture, without the independence of the political conscience being vindicated thereby. The office of dispensers of the federal patronage which the spoils system has cast on the Senators has long since established among them a freemasonry, sanctioned by the famous rule of "senatorial courtesy,” which pays little regard to party divisions. In proportion as the moral decomposition of the parties advanced in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the tendency of their members towards cross-voting extended from the sphere of patronage to that of legislation. In the State Legislatures and a fortiori in the municipal assemblies, a powerful boss not only controls the members of his own party, but wields a palpable influence over the members of the opposite party. At the elections themselves the Machines of the rival parties, instead of fighting each other, come to terms, make "deals." Lastly, even when the contest is an honest one, the opposition which the parties are supposed to indulge in is none the less fictitious in reality, for their aspirations and methods being identical, the displacement of one party by the other leaves things as they were, one Machine is installed in the place of another.

In a word, given the manner in which the contingents of the parties sent into Congress by the Caucus are formed, they could not constitute homogeneous, closely united wholes, guided by considerations of general interest, and obeying a single impulse proceeding from common principles and aspirations. The parties as such were, consequently, not capable of initiative or of responsibility; they could not put forward measures, display constructive statesmanship, nor, again, serve as a counterpoise one to the other; that is to say, they were unable to discharge the very duties which are the raison d'être and the justification of parties in a free government. Having reduced party divisions to a difference in titles, the Caucus régime has arrested or perverted all along the line the see-saw by which the party system is supposed to ensure good government or, at least, supply a temporary remedy for misgovernment. To obtain this remedy the citizens were obliged to make up for the irregularity of the seesaw by violent strokes, by lynch measures. We are familiar with the periodical, but spasmodic, revolts against the Machines, in which it is sought “to punish some one," to strike at random in the hope that the culprits will be among those hit.

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