Слике страница



responsible to the people

who are to carry on the government from the party which has carried the election. Thus in Great Britain the government is by ministers who are responsible to their party. The party is responsible to the people.

In the United States the tendency has likewise been toward government by the party. But, as it might happen that the party does not always have a President and also both houses of Congress, the party in that case cannot make laws and control their execution. Hence the party claims it is not responsible. The people, however, have been gradually looking to the President more and more to carry through what they desire. Andrew Jackson did much to promote this view that the President is the people's representative. In the Civil War, the President naturally had greater authority and influence than he would have had in time of peace. In recent years, Cleveland and Roosevelt regarded themselves as responsible to the people, not only for approving laws, but for urging the passage of legislation. President Taft was criticised because he did not secure the enactment by Congress of measures for tariff reform which the party was understood to have promised in its Platform. President Wilson has conspicuously and openly taken the position that he, more than any one else, is responsible for seeing to it that what he regards as the will of the people is carried out by legislation. We may say, then, that the American people, when it began to want a government that would do things instead of a government that could not do things, first hit upon the political party as the way of getting team play, and then made the President captain of the team. The people approve the President now for doing what would have been regarded as entirely wrong one hundred years ago.

When football began to be played in American colleges there was not much “ team play.” Each player had his position on the team and tried to do his best, but he didn't know who was to have the ball and so he could only by accident be of any help. It was eleven players, each for himself. This method did not advance the ball very rapidly unless, by good luck, some player should find an opening and make a long run. Under the present method, when a play begins by one team, every member of that team knows who will take the ball and what he himself must do in order to help advance it toward the opponent's goal. The political party is an organized team. Sometimes it may stand for wise measures and sometimes for weak or unwise measures. But at any rate it does unite people and make them work together to carry measures through. If the people do not like the measures they can punish

the party.





ITHIN recent years there has been much dis

satisfaction with various hindrances to self

government. In some cases, this dissatisfaction has been because the representatives in legislatures have not passed laws which the people have desired. In other cases, mayors of cities or other administrative officers have failed to carry out laws which have been passed. In still a third type of cases, judges nave declared laws unconstitutional which have been adopted by legislatures, or have decided cases in a way which was opposed to the general view, although it may have been in accordance with the law as the judge understood it.

To meet these difficulties, methods called the “ Initiative, the Referendum, and the Recall ” have been proposed, and, in some states, adopted. The initiative applies to legislation. There may be a very general desire for a certain law and yet the state legislature may fail to enact it. In such a case, in a state which has the initiative a certain percentage of the voters may petition to have the measure submitted to a general vote of the people. If it is approved it becomes a law. This method has been used in Oregon for sev

The initiative

eral years.

The referendum is a check upon legislation. The provision is that when a legislature or a city council


not new

has passed a measure, this measure must be referred to a vote of the people before it can become a law, The provided that a certain percentage of the voters peti- referention that this be done.

The recall is applied to officers who incur the disapproval of the people. It is provided that on the petition of a certain percentage of the voters a new election must be held at which the officer shall be a candidate for approval, or for rejection in favor of another. This has been tried chiefly upon the Pacific coast.

These new methods for expressing the will of the Referenpeople are regarded by some as very valuable and dum by others as not merely unwise but as revolutionary. It is well to notice that we have always used the referendum and the recall, to a certain extent, in the United States. Practically every state constitution has been referred to the people for a vote; but the most striking case is the adoption of the National Constitution. The framers of this were apparently afraid that the state legislatures might not accept it and still more afraid that Congress would not approve it. They referred the measure to conventions which were to be chosen in the states for the express purpose of voting upon the Constitution. They even provided that when this new Constitution should be adopted by nine states in this way it should go into effect. This was practically overthrowing the older government in the other four states in case they should not choose to adopt the new, for in this case they would be left out in the cold.

The recall is not very different in principle from the Impeachplan of having frequent elections; but it undoubtedly ment and

recall is more drastic. Yet all states have had provisions for some method of getting rid of officers who do not do their duty. The President of the United States and

Legislator and executive represent policies

federal judges may be impeached by Congress. President Johnson was very nearly removed in this way. Several federal judges have been so removed. In the case of impeachment, charges against the official are presented and he has a chance to make a defense. It is a kind of trial, and in federal cases the charges must be proved to the satisfaction of two-thirds of the Senate. But in Massachusetts a judge may be removed without any trial if by a two-thirds vote each branch of the legislature passes a resolution calling for his removal.

No one objects to provisions for impeachment. There is also less difference of opinion on the question of removing an executive officer like a mayor than on the question of removing a judge. The reason for this is that there is an important difference between the duties of a legislator, or an administrative officer, such as a mayor, and the duties of a judge. A legislator is supposed to make laws for the good of the people. But he is also supposed to represent the people. He is in a sense instructed by the people. If he does not carry out the policy which his constituents desire, it is proper

that he should have a chance to explain why. If the people have so much confidence in him that they are willing to take his judgment as being wiser than their own, then they may continue him in office. But if they believe firmly that a measure is right which he is unwilling to favor, then it seems entirely proper that they should choose some one else to represent them who will favor it, in case the matter is one of great importance.

It might at first seem that a governor or mayor has only to execute laws, and that therefore he is either doing his duty or is not. If he is, he ought not to

« ПретходнаНастави »