The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, October 18, 1901, Page 4, Image 4
!jyMprririf0rwp'TiTii&'' tot-i-v nr . v ". The Commoner. J is Sv Commercial Value of Ideas In Politics. Hearst's Chicago American prints the follow ing oxtract from an oration delivered by ex-Attor-noy General Wayne MacVeach before the Harvard chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa society. If Mr, MacVeagh were no known to bo a republican, one would suspect him of being not only a democrat, but what the republicans call a dema gogue and a disturber of the peace. He says: While wo must, of course, always insist upon the one vital distinction between truo and false American patriotism, recognizing only as true that which possesses the ethical spirit, and rejecting as false that which does not possess it, we must also recognizo that such a subject can be properly dicussed only with that liberal and catholic feel ing which makes the amplest allowances for differ ence of opinion. There is no reason why we should not cheer fully admit that the controlling consideration 'in the immediate present is that of money. Assuming, therefore, that we must deal with conditions as they cxint, I have thought it might be useful to call the attention of our men of busi ness to the commercial value of ethical ideals in American politics. If it is possible to satisfy them that the cher ishing of such ideals may be of pecuniary advant age may be, in truth, treated as a commercial asset they may appreciate the wisdom of ceasing their efforts to destroy them, and may be persuaded to help in the good work of -maintaining them and of extending their beneficent influence. It is difficult to understand why the free gov ernment under which we are privileged to live especially needs the influence of ethical ideals in the conduct of life, or why wo may possibly incur danger if we are without the protecting and con servative influence of such Ideals. Under whatever disguises, called by whatever names, inheriting or seizing whatever partisan or ganizations, the alignment of the two great politi cal divisions of American voters, who will sooner cr later struggle against each other for the pos session of the government, will inevitably be upon the basis of the contented and the discontented. The party of the contented will be ranged un der one banner, and the party of the dis contented will be ranged under the other, arid " that alignment will steadily develop increasing sharpness of division until the party of the discontented, being the majority, has obtained the control of the government, to which, under our system, they are entitled; and then they will be sure to remodel the present system for the distribution of wealth, unless we have previously done so, upon bases wiser and more equitable than those now existing. The one party will be, under whatever name, the party of capital; and the other party will be, under whatever name, the party of labor. My purpose, therefore, is to point out, without the slightest bitterness, to the members of the contented class, the commercial value of ethical ideals as the safest source of the political aspira tions of the majority of our people, and the most conservative influence in our national life, and also to .point cut to them the grave dangers from a bviness standpoint, in these days of possible con flict between capital and labor, of continuing to substitute money for morajs as the permanent and controlling force in American politics. The first ethical ideals which it seems to me It would be wise for us, even from the point of view of the stock exchanges, to guard most zealously just now, is the ideal condition of society with which the late President McKinley closed his con gratulations upon the opening of the exposition at Buffalothat of peace on earth and good will to men. If fighting and killing aro to be encouraged, if those who indulge in them are to be especially hon ored, and if oppression of the weak is to be cher ished, it will -bo difficult to prevent the class of the discontented from familiarizing themselves too thoroughly With fighting and killing, and from learning to cherish in their hearts a desire to op press their weaker but more wealthy fellow-citizens. It is quite possible there may also bo great commercial value for us at the present time in the ethical ideal that all men are born equal and equally entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit ofr happiness. I am well aware that Jt is supposed exigencies nov exist which require us to abandon the doctrine of equality we inherited. We are told that the exigencies of modern business and modern trade require a wholly dif ferent ideal to bo sot before the now century; that our personal duty is to conquer any weaker peo ple whoso territory we covet, and to Bubject them to such government as in our opinion will best promote our profit and their welfare. There is still another ethical ideal which may soon prove to be of very great commercial value in American politics the ideal of the citizen, wheth er in or out of office, exhibiting moral courage in dealing with important public questions. It is perhaps inevitable, but it is none the less to bo regretted, that a distinct lowering of moral standards should follow a state of war, inducing us to cherish the delusion that if we talk loudly enough and boast foolishly enough of our physical prowess by sea and land, and give our time and thought only to warlike actions and preparations, as we have- been doing for'the last three years, all serious moral and domestic questions will some how settle themselves. Such a delusion is equally childish and coward ly, and it is only necessary to glance at such ques tions to discover that instead of settling them selves they aro daily growing in gravity. As one example, take our attitude toward the corrupt use of money in our elections and in our representative bodies. Even the dullest intelli gence must see that if we continue to destroy, as for some time past we have been destroying, tho belief of the majority of our fellow-citizens that elections are honestly conducted and laws are honestly mode, we are destroying the best possiblo basis for the security of private property; for there can be no reverence for law where laws and law-makers are bought with money, and I fear we are rapidly destroying the possibility of such reverence in the minds of tho masses of our countrymen. Upon the ground of expediency aloneregarcl ing it only as an element in our commercial ex pansion, in ourgrowth of trade, in our increase of wealth, in tho prosperity of our stock exchanges even from this standpoint, it is assuredly great practical folly to destroy the ethical ideal of law, as we are striving so earnestly to do. There is another very grave problem t which wo are also refusing to consider, and by which re fusal the ethical Ideal of law Is also being fa stroyed. I.t is the problem presented by our negro pop- ulation, now approaching ten millions of souls. All of us, whether in public office or in private station, now concur in trying to ignore the exist once of any such problem at our doors, while wo indulge in self-congratulations about the blessings we are carrying to another ten millions of dark skinned races in far-distant lands. At present the condition of tho whole subject is lawlessness, and such a condition is disgraceful to us all and is fraught with the serious dangers which lawlessnes always brings in its train as tho exact opposite of the ethical ideal of law. Indeed, the ethical ideal, of the legislator and the citizen, as men zealous to know their public duty and brave enough to do it, is also rapidly be ing destroyed by our failing to even attempt to deal seriously and adequately with many other problems now imperatively demanding our at tention. It certainly would tend to make private prop erty far more secure in America if the less for tunate majority of our population saw us of tho more fortunate minority giving courage and time and thought to efforts to solve these problems and others like them, and thereby to. lessen soihe of the evils which in many cases bear so heavily and so unjustly upon the poor. Indeed, the influence of ethical ideals upon American democracy ought to be considered of value if only because the cultivation of such ideals will inevitably tend to make more really patriotic all classes of our countrymen, for such ideals lift us all a" jve the unsatisfied standards of public duty .with which we are vainly trying to content ourselves. Lieutenant Louis Hamilton, of the Fourteenth United States infantry, commanded the special, guard of honor at the Buffalo city hall and on, the train which carried the remains of President McKinley to Washington. He is tho great-grandson of Alexander Hamilton. i - -.'W'aiLL ' ' ' e-s tfo.VJ f . ,., c ty&2' rtf-p fash, ( -50-rz - -- " i -- 'xyW' HZ. Vf'iSgssS V TV "it"'-"""" -"""" - !' . r if a he above cartoop, reproduced by courtesy of the St. Paul (Minn;)' Globe, appeared in that paper recently as an illustration of tho truth of a Commoner editorial to tho effect that abuse does not injure the man or party made tho subject of the attack.