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expected to resign or to be held responsible for what the cabinet did as a group. Responsibility was made collective and leadership was made. responsible by providing that the cabinet should present a solid front in dealing with the legislature.
A Single Responsible Head Not Recognized in England till after the American Revolution
The necessity for a prime minister or head of the administration was not recognized until after the American Revolution, and it was not until after 1832 that the prime minister came in fact to be the choice of a body acting as an electoral college-persons chosen by the electorate who had delegated to them the power to select a chief executive.* That is, it was not until after the passage of the Reform Bill that the Commons came to be fairly representative, and the cabinet was made wholly dependent on retaining the support of a majority of the representatives of the people.†
The Mechanism for Carrying Issues before the Electorate Not Perfected until after 1832
After responsible and collective leadership was firmly established in the cabinet, the final step in the development of the system was the adoption of the expedient of submitting irreconcilable differences between the executive and the legislature to the decision of the electorate. This step was not firmly taken until about the middle of the nineteenth century. Speaking on this point, Anson says: "There was no instance before 1830 of a ministry retiring because it was beaten on any question of legislation or even of taxation. So late as 1841 Macaulay maintained. in the House of Commons, speaking as a cabinet minister, that the government were not bound to resign because they could not carry legislative changes, except in particular cases where they were convinced that without such and such a law they could not carry on the public service." Means for Making Control through Representatives Effective, Not Generally Adopted in Europe till after 1848
It is also a matter of peculiar interest that the Revolution of 1848 and other political disturbances in Europe which occurred in the middle of the last century had very largely to do with the establishment of the principle of executive responsibility in the continental governments of
*In establishing our federal constitution, a separate electoral college was provided for. In some countries, the regular representative body is used for this purpose. Our electoral college meets once, casts a vote and that is the end of it; the parliamentary electoral college is a continuing body, always available to perform the electoral function.
Before the passage of the Reform Bill the Commons was largely under the domination of the executive, through his ability to control the "rotten boroughs" and the use of other questionable means.
Western Europe. Each of these has a representative body. To this body is given the power to determine policies and settle what the executive may do. But in each the executive must lay before representatives what is proposed by the administration. Each of them holds the executive to account for working out details and for doing things for which approval has been given, but withholds the power to proceed without consent of a majority of representatives. In developing methods for making the executive responsible, each has resorted to the expedients that were commonly known by the people to have been effective in management of affairs, both public and private. For the purpose of making a government responsive, all the countries, with one or two exceptions, insisted on the establishment of a political system that would provide― 1. For the election of representatives.
2. For giving to these representatives the means for knowing what was being done.
3. For enforcing the prompt retirement from the executive service of the heads of administration who do not retain the confidence and support of a majority.
And in order to definitize responsibility, each provided for a prime minister who was held to account for formulating and submitting the plans or proposals of the administration and who could be held responsible for the honesty and qualifications of the personnel of the administration, for the efficiency and economy of management.
The Isolated Development of the American Type of Representative
The American system of government was not only established before the development of those institutions for making executive leadership effective and at the same time thoroughly responsible, but it was established under circumstances which were wholly abnormal, namely, during a revolutionary condition of affairs produced by a popular struggle against irresponsible executive authority exercised through agents of the British crown. The executive branch of the government in all of the American colonies, except Rhode Island and Connecticut, was vested in authorities entirely beyond the control of the electorate, that is, in royal governors in the provincial colonies and in proprietaries in the others. It was on the executive branch essentially that the colonists waged their war for independence. For them it was not then a question of controlling but of destroying the executive arm.
Accordingly when they came to framing state constitutions, they usually provided that the governor should be a mere minion of the legislature (Massachusetts and New York being the two marked exceptions), elected by that body for a short term and stripped of all powers for
leadership and responsibility. In some of the states even the term "governor" was regarded as odious and insulting to democracy and the milder term of president was used. Nowhere except in Massachusetts was the executive given the straight veto power. Everywhere he was regarded with suspicion and distrust.
All Real Gains in American Government Have Been in the Direction of the Second Type
Although the ideas of the Revolutionary period have on the whole. dominated our state constitution makers, there have been some departures, and as far as these have been real gains in responsible and efficient government, they have been in the direction of the second type of representative government. The governor has been made independent of the legislature and given larger powers and responsibilities. These have been substantial gains, but it now remains for the convention of 1915 to apply to the solution of the problem presented the experience of other countries and of the practical business world.
The Fundamental Question for the Convention
Inasmuch as the whole course of political evolution in other advanced democracies has been in the direction of responsible and efficient executive leadership, and inasmuch as substantial gains in American government have come from halting steps in that direction, the constitutional convention is called upon to answer this fundamental question: “Is it desirable to retain a system of government that secures only irresponsible and invisible leadership or should cognizance be taken of the expedients which have been developed during the last hundred years for making leadership effective and responsible." The discontent with and organized opposition to the present system are obvious. From the point of view of democracy it is unsuccessful and from the point of view of business management it stands universally condemned.
ORGANIZATION AND PROCEDURE OF THE LEGISLATURE.
There are many variations in organization-as many as there are constitutions. It is not to be assumed, therefore, that there is only one best form, or that the organization and procedure in any particular details are best suited to the work to be done by a state, because the social, economic, physical and other environmental conditions which must be taken into account differ in each political jurisdiction. There are three conclusions with respect to organization, however, that may be accepted with confidence, viz.:
1. That in making constitutional changes those expedients which have uniformly worked well should be considered.
That the devices and adaptations which have universally worked badly should be discarded or, if continued, should
be retained only for lack of something better.
That whatever be the general design of the mechanism for doing business, every part should be in harmony with and complementary to every other part.
4. That each part of the machinery of government should be adapted to performing the service for which it was intended.
Indictments of the Present Organization and Procedure of the Legislature
Attention has already been called to the fact that one of the essential functions of a representative body, whether in government or in private corporate organization, is to make officers who conduct the details of the business, responsive and responsible. Without such an official body, those who do things and are responsible for what is done must deal directly with the electorate or the membership; without such an official body the clectorate or membership is put to the disadvantage of not having a permanently organized reviewing and approving agency to bring before it specific and definite matters of policy concerning which there may be differences of opinion. Attention is also called to the fact that the constitutional character given to the representative body has been such that it has operated to defeat many of the fundamental purposes of a representative system. Against the present organization and procedure three indictments may be laid:
1. That they are of a kind that has uniformly worked badly.
3. That they are not complementary and supplementary to the
The Organization and Procedure Have Worked Badly
Our political institutions have been on trial before the people and found wanting. It is for the members of the convention now to cure the obvious defects. Defects in provisions with respect to the "electorate," with respect to the conditions governing public employment or surrounding the "official personnel," and with respect to the general structure, have already been commented on. It remains to discuss more concretely the defects in the organization and procedure of the legislature, in the organization of the executive, and in the several administrative departments and offices.
The first indictment (that the organization of the representative body is of a kind that has uniformly worked badly) may be passed without further proof than is already before the people. Past legislative performance has been of such a character as to cause many persons to lose confidence in representative government itself. Instead of "responsible government," we had "invisible government"; instead of responsible "leadership," we had a personnel that is dominated by "spoils" and "patronage "-discipline being administered from without; instead of efficiency, we had inefficiency and waste of public resources to a degree that have caused citizens to conclude that even the most pressing and obvious public functions should not be entrusted to the government; instead of a government that is responsive to public opinion, our public institutions in many respects have been irresponsive-in fact we have not developed any effective official means of formulating, expressing and enforcing opinion on matters of large moment.
Experience in Other Governments Similarly Organized
Nor is there any reason for thinking that these results have been due to social, economic or other conditions peculiar to the State of New York. The people of every state in which the same type of legislative organization and procedure has been used have had the same experience. Results obtained by every government, and by every private institution that has adopted similar methods have proved just as disappointing. Under circumstances of this kind it behooves those charged with responsibility for determining whether it shall continue either to inquire into the reasons why the mechanism has worked uniformly badly or to discard it without inquiry.
Not Adapted to the Work to be Done
The principal function of the legislature is to reflect public opinion on questions of policy. A body whose function is to express public opinion should be so organized that the interests and opinions of the state may be precisely represented in the membership. It may be accepted as a principle that a legislative body is representative only as it provides