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Facts of Reconstruction, The

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<SPAN name="CHAPTER_XXX" id="CHAPTER_XXX"></SPAN>CHAPTER XXX</h2> <h3>ARGUMENT ON PROPOSED CHANGE OF REPRESENTATION IN CONVENTION</h3> <p>In addition to the reasons already given there are many others that might be urged against the proposed change of representation.</p> <p>In the first place, the present plan is based upon the sound and stable principle upon which the Government was organized. Representation in Congress is not based upon votes or voters, but upon population. The same is true of the different State Legislatures. All political parties,&mdash;or, at any rate, the principal ones,&mdash;have adopted the same system in the make-up of their State and National Conventions. The membership of the National Convention being based upon each State's representation in Congress, the State Conventions, with perhaps a few exceptions, are based upon the representation in the State Legislatures from each county, parish, or other civil division. It is the fairest, safest, best, and most equitable plan that can be devised or adopted.</p> <p>Under this plan or system, no State, section or locality can gain or lose representation in any party convention through the application of extraneous or questionable methods, either by the action of the government or of a political party. The representation in Congress and in the different State Legislatures, which is based upon population, fixes the representation from each State in the different National Conventions and in many of the State Conventions. Any other plan or system,&mdash;especially that which is based upon the number of votes cast for the candidates of the party as officially ascertained and declared,&mdash;would have a tendency to work serious injustice to certain States and sections. In fact, it would have a tendency to sectionalize the party by which the change is made.</p> <p>Under the present system, for instance, Pennsylvania and Texas have the same representation in a National Democratic Convention that they have in a National Republican Convention, although one is usually Republican in National elections and the other Democratic. And why should not the representation from those States be the same in both conventions? Why should Texas, because it is believed to be safely Democratic, have more power and influence in a Democratic Convention on that account than the Republican State of Pennsylvania? The answer may be because one is a Democratic and the other a Republican State&mdash;because one can be relied upon to give its electoral votes to the candidates of the Democratic party while the other cannot. But this is not in harmony with our governmental system. Representation in Congress being based upon population, every State, section and locality has its relative weight and influence in the government in accordance with the number of its inhabitants.</p> <p>That this is the correct principle will not be seriously questioned when it is carefully considered. What is true of Pennsylvania and Texas in a National Democratic Convention is equally true of the same States in a National Republican Convention, and for the same reasons. The argument that Pennsylvania should have relatively a larger representation in a National Republican Convention than Texas, because the former is reliably Republican while the latter is hopelessly Democratic, is just as fallacious in this case as in the other. But it is said that delegates from States that cannot contribute to the success of the ticket should not have a potential voice in nominating a ticket that other States must be depended upon to elect. Then why not exclude them altogether, and also those from the territories and the District of Columbia?</p> <p>The argument is unsound, and unreasonable; a State may be reliably Republican at one election and yet go Democratic at the next. In 1872 General Grant, the Republican candidate for President, carried nearly every State in the Union, in the South as well as in the North. Four years later Governor Hayes, the Republican candidate for President, came within one vote of being defeated in the electoral college; and even then his election was made possible only through the decision of the Electoral Commission. In 1880 General Garfield, the Republican candidate for President, carried New York, and was elected; while four years later Mr. Blaine, the candidate of the same party, lost it and was defeated. In 1888 Harrison, the Republican Presidential candidate, carried New York, and was elected; four years later he not only lost New York, but also such important States as Indiana and Illinois, and came within a few votes of losing Ohio. This was due to a slump in the Republican vote throughout the country, which would have made a very radical change in the National Convention of 1896 if the apportionment of delegates to that convention had been based upon the votes cast for Harrison in 1892. While McKinley, the Republican Presidential candidate, was elected by a large majority in 1896, he lost such important Western States as Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Montana, Washington and Nevada. While he was re&euml;lected four years later by an increased majority, he again lost some of the same States. While Roosevelt, the Republican Presidential candidate in 1904, carried every State that McKinley carried in 1900, and several others besides, Mr. Bryan, the Democratic candidate in 1908, though defeated by a large majority, regained some of the Western States that Roosevelt carried in 1904,&mdash;notably his own State of Nebraska.</p> <p>There was a time when such States as Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee were as safely Democratic as Texas and Georgia. Will anyone assert that such is true of them now? There also was a time when such States as Nebraska, Colorado and Nevada were as reliably Republican as Pennsylvania and Vermont. Is that true of them now? In addition to these, taking into consideration important elections that have been held since 1880, the Republicans cannot absolutely rely upon the support of such States as Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, and even Ohio. Even the strong Republican State of Pennsylvania has occasionally gone Democratic in what is called an "off year." Other Republican States,&mdash;or States that usually go Republican,&mdash;have gone Democratic when it was not an off year,&mdash;Illinois, for instance, in 1892. All of this goes to prove how unreliable, unsafe, unsatisfactory, unjust and unfair would be the change in the basis of representation as thus proposed.</p> <p>Another argument in support of the proposed change is that delegates from Democratic States are, as a rule, controlled by the administration then in power, if Republican, and that such delegates can be depended upon to support the administration candidate whoever he may be, regardless of merit, strength or availability. This argument, of course, is based upon the assumption that what is true of Democratic States in this respect is not true of Republican States. The slightest investigation will easily establish the fallacy of this assumption. The truth is that the federal office-holders&mdash;especially those holding appointive offices,&mdash;can, with a few exceptions, always be depended upon to support the Administration candidate, whoever he may be. The only difference between the North and the South in this respect is that in some of the Southern States, where but one party is allowed to exist,&mdash;the Democratic party,&mdash;the Republican office-holders can more easily manipulate and control the conventions of their party in such States. But that the office-holders of all sections constitute an important factor in the election of delegates to the National Conventions will not be denied by those who are familiar with the facts, and are honest enough to admit them.</p> <p>For purposes of illustration we will take the National Republican Convention of 1908, which nominated Judge Taft. It was known that Judge Taft was the man whose candidacy was supported by the Administration. The proceedings of the Convention revealed the fact that outside of five States that had what were called "favorite son" candidates of their own, there were perhaps not more than fifty votes in the whole Convention that were opposed to the administration candidate, although it is more than probable that Judge Taft would not have been nominated but for the fact that he was the choice of the administration.</p> <p>I am sure no fair-minded person will assert that, in thus voting, the delegates from the Democratic States were influenced by the administration, while those from Republican States were not. It is not my purpose to assert or even intimate that any questionable methods were used to influence the election, or control the votes of the delegates in the interest of any one candidate. Nothing of that sort was necessary, since human nature is the same the world over.</p> <p>That the office-holders should be loyal to the administration to which they belong is perfectly natural. That those who wish to become office-holders should be anxious to be on the winning side is also natural, and that, too, without regard to the locality or section in which they live. It is a fact, therefore, that up to 1908 no candidate has ever been nominated by a Republican National Convention who did not finally receive a sufficient number of votes from all sections of the country to make his nomination practically the choice of the party without regard to sectional lines.</p> <p>If, then, it be a fact that in 1908, for instance, delegates to the National Republican Convention were elected and controlled through administration influences in the interest of any one candidate, such influences were no less potential in Republican than in Democratic States. Outside of the administration candidate there were at that Convention five very important States that presented candidates of their own. They were New York, Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. That the delegation from each of said States were practically solid in the support of its "favorite son" was due largely to the wise decision of the managers of the administration candidate to concede to each of said "favorite sons" the delegation from his own State without a contest. But for this decision, which was wisely made in the interest of party harmony, no one of those "favorite sons" would have had the solid delegation from his own State. As it was, a large majority of the delegates from the five States named was not unfriendly to the Administration candidate. These delegates voted for their "favorite sons" simply because they knew that in doing so they were not antagonizing the administration. There never was a time, therefore, when they could have been united upon any one candidate in opposition to the one that had at his back the powerful support of the Administration. Our government has reached that point in its growth, where it is not only possible, but comparatively easy, for an administration to secure the nomination of the one by whom it desires to be succeeded,&mdash;especially under the present system of electing delegates. It was in anticipation of this, and to prevent any one man from perpetuating himself in power, that Washington established the precedent against a third successive term.</p> <p>If the advocates of this proposed change are to be believed, and if they wish to be consistent, they should include the National Committee. The composition of that body is somewhat similar to that of the United States Senate. In the Senate Nevada and Delaware have the same representation as New York and Pennsylvania. In the National Committee each State, territory, and the District of Columbia has one vote. If any change in the interest of reform is necessary, the National Republican Committee is the organization where it should first be made; for it often happens that that committee can not only shape the policy of the party but control the nomination as well,&mdash;especially when the result between opposing candidates is close and doubtful. In such a contest the candidate that has the support of a majority of the National Committee has a decided advantage over his rivals for the nomination. If the result should be close that advantage will be more than likely to secure him the nomination.</p> <p>The National Committee prepares the roll of the delegates to the Convention, and, in doing so, it decides primarily every contested seat. If the contests thus decided should give any one candidate a majority, that majority will be sure to retain the advantage thus secured. It will thus be seen that if any change is necessary this is the place where it should first be made. It occurs to me that instead of changing the basis of representation the most effective remedy for the evils now complained of is to have the delegates to National Conventions elected at popular primaries, instead of by State and district conventions.</p> <hr /> <h2>
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