Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

years' service. The doctrine of rotation derived from this
law, and defended by Jackson; its untoward effect; it only
benefits the party organizations by providing them with a

constant supply of fresh recruits

V. Gradual development of a regular machinery within the party

organizations in the form of the conventions. The material

difficulties and the political opposition encountered by the

system of the conventions, even in the democratic West.

How the final triumph of this system is none the less carried

by a concurrence of interests, wants, passions, and desires,

both of a public and of a private character. The system is

completed by the establishment of national conventions. Its

structure and its hierarchy; the ascending scale of the tem-

porary assemblies which make the nominations and that

of the permanent committees. How this system, in spite

of the broadness of its base, led to an extreme centralization

of power and preoccupations, and completely subordinated

local public life to the rivalries in the field of national

politics.

VI. The first national conventions. The anti-masonic convention.

The National Republican convention for the nomination of

Clay is the real prototype; the “ convention of young men.”

The convention of the Jacksonian party got up behind the

scenes by the members of the “ kitchen cabinet.” Impor-

tant precedents in procedure established at this convention.

The next Democratic convention of 1835 also run by the

administration and its agents to register the choice made

by Jackson. The opposition encountered by this conven-

tion, and by the system of national conventions in general.

Departures from this system. But from 1840 onward it

becomes definitive.

VII. The effects revealed by the working of the convention system.

The party organization is engrossed by the office-holders

and the candidates for office. Politics is their "trade.”

The moral constraint of “regularity," and the practical

necessities of the vote on the “slip ticket,' deliver the elec-

torate into their hands. Independent candidatures having

disappeared, political strife becomes a duel between the rival

organizations, in which the voters are reduced to the posi-

tion of dummies. The withdrawal of the best men defini-

tively separates society from politics ; the nation splits into

two distinct parts, a majority absorbed in business, and a

small minority which monopolizes political action. Corrup-

tion in the public service soon makes its appearance

VIII. The economic crisis of 1837 provokes a revolt against Jack-

sonian Democracy. Away with the spoilers." The Whigs

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

PAGE

[ocr errors]

come forward as liberators, but being led by the politicians,

they are bent solely on obtaining power. In order not to

spoil the prospects of the party, the Whig Organization gets

rid of Clay by its manæuvres at the national convention ;

and by an election campaign of “log cabin and hard cider,"

intended to “ raise enthusiasm," it captures the vote of the

country for their own account in the name of " Tippecanoe

and Tyler too"

IX. The new order of things in the life of the parties is definitely

established. Recapitulation of its cardinal factors: the

political parties are reconstituted in an artificial way, under

the auspices and the inspiration of a few great magnetic"

leaders, and swept into an organization of which the spoils

become the cohesive force, and whose mercenary character

determines the discipline in the ranks and the devotion to

the chiefs. As the personality of the leaders dwindles, the

leadership becomes, in a way, anonymous, and is lost in the

party firm, which is made the object of a sort of fetish-

worship. How this formalism in its twofold aspect, moral

and material, is implanted in men's minds through the infla-

tion of democratic feeling, through the exaltation of the will

of the people, which seems to be elicited more fully owing

to the representative constitution of the popular party or-

ganization. Abdicating his political freedom of mind, and

attending solely to his private interests, the citizen leaves

the professionals of politics full liberty, and at rare intervals

only, under the impulse of some strong emotion, takes the

field for a moment.

to the spoils to be obtained. They make “ availability" the

first qualification of a candidate for the Presidency. How

Van Buren was put on one side by the Democratic conven-

tion of 1844, and how this rejection was in accordance with

the opportunist logic of the system. How the opportunism

of the leaders reinforcing the opportunisin of the politicians

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

gave the final blow to the leadership ; the eclipse of Clay.

Calhoun withdraws from the lists of his own accord ; his

criticism of the convention system. How under this system

the chief magistracy definitively passes into the hands of an

inferior set of men (dark horses) and the power of the people

declines in spite of, or even in consequence of, the extension

of the elective principle to public offices

84

III. How the knot fastened by this system is drawn tighter.

Fierce exaltation of the party loyalty personified in the

Organization. The contingents enlisted in its service expand

by the growth of the class of office-seekers ; by the gradual

accretion of foreign emigration which supplies “ voting cat-

tle" in spite of the resistance of the “Nativists" and the

“Know Nothings"; and by the automatic adhesion of the

upper classes of American origin, who are looking about for

a solid barrier against the rising tide of the slavery question 92

IV. The parties, however, which had long been without a real basis,

were the least capable of supplying this fulcrum, of maintain-

ing the statu quo; the party organizations were even men-

aced themselves by the slavery question, which had sown

division in their own ranks and made a regrouping of par-

ties inevitable. To prolong their existence they try to ignore

the slavery question, and begin an underhand struggle against

the logic of events. The Whig Organization in particular

adopts a double-faced policy ; it invariably wraps everything

in ambiguity in order to shirk the vital question ; it obtains

control of the Presidency by trading on the popular tenden-

cies toward a President outside parties, and by appropriat-

ing the candidature of Taylor without letting him take up a

straightforward attitude; it brings together patriotic scru-

ples, conservative prejudices, faint-hearted apprehensions,

ambitions, and desires, all interested in the statu quo, in

order to drag them at the heels of the politicians, and dis-

tract their attention from the problem of the day ; to anxious

minds it offers the solution of “ agreeing to disagree," or pro-

poses to support the candidate while spitting on the plat-

form." But eventually sound minds and upright consciences

revolt; the irremediable divergence between opponents and

supporters of the extension of slavery breaks out in spite of

everything in the Whig ranks, and the Whig Organization

falls to pieces

97

V. The anti-slavery cause, so long held in check by the opportun-

ism of the Whig Organization, which pretended to serve it,
had all the more difficulty in making a fight that the parties
had arrogated the monopoly of organization, and had created
a prejudice against special movements. The difficulties expe-

PAGE

The EvolutiON OF THE SYSTEM (continued).

I. The party organization system during the Civil War and after-

ward. How it thrust itself from the outset on the Republi-

can party, and how it introduced the professional element

into it. To what extent wire-pulling entered into Lincoln's

nomination for the Presidency. Lincoln himself caught in

the toils of the spoils' system ; the hecatombs of officials ;

Simon Cameron's case. Lincoln dispensing patronage in the

interest of the party, and supporting the regular candidates

at elections

II. After the war the Republican Organization invaded the South,

Social and economic conditions of the South which had
hitherto prevented the development of the popular party or-
ganization. The structure of society in the slave-holding
South ; its political life; the leadership; electoral ways.
How the Republican Organization established itself on the
ruins of the old political society by assuming control of the
liberated negroes invested with the suffrage; the “carpet-
baggers " and the “scalawags.” The systematic robbery
of the public purse. It is winked at by the great leaders

PAOB

of the party.

The federal administration supports the
Republican Organization with the military forces of the
Union; the case of Louisiana. The whites driven into
the Democratic camp form the “Solid South." Political
formalism pervades the whole life of the South, and makes
the party Organization with its principle of regularity su-
preme in it. The restoration of the whites to power does
not put an end to the Solid South ; the politicians try to per-
petuate it in order not to lose their situation. They take
root in the new South. How the novel conditions under
which the leadership was exercised and the economic trans-
formation of the country favoured the professionals and the
mercenaries of politics. How the whole Union became iden-
tified with the state of things which the Solid South has

created and which the party Organizations traded on . 116

III. The other effects of the war which gave the Organization a

fresh flight. How autoritarianism and centralization in

political life, as well as concentration in the economic sphere,

which lowered the moral stature of the individual, and in-

dustrial expansion which absorbed all his energies in money-

making, had produced a decline in public spirit. How the

overflowing enthusiasm created by the war only heightened

party feeling. How both of them, the shrinkage of public

spirit, as well as the inflation of party feeling, swelled the

moral sources of the influence of the Organization. How

the Organization strengthened its material hold on the voters

by improvements in its machinery : the Congressional Cam-

paign Committee, the standing committees, and the perma-

nent party associations. How the way in which it worked

got it the nickname of “ Machine"

124

IV. How the Organization having secured the electoral monopoly

thrust itself on the government. The Executive makes over

to it the patronage in the federal service, forced thereto by

the personal obligations of the President to the Organization

which has carried him into power, by his duties towards the

party of which it is the guardian, and finally by the necessi-

ties of the constitutional situation which obliges him to seek

the support of members of Congress, in spite of the legal sepa-

ration of powers. The organic weakness of the presidential

office was accentuated by the weakness of the men who held

it immediately before and after Lincoln. How the Legisla-

tive, which had got the upper hand of the Executive, became

the stronghold of the leaders of the party Organization, and

how the latter, disguised as members of Congress, became,

with the aid of the “ courtesy of the Senate,” regular

dispensers of the federal patronage

129

« AnteriorContinuar »