The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, March 21, 1913, Page 5, Image 5

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The Commoner.
MARCH 21, 1913
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President Wilsons South and Central
American Policy
On March 11th President Wilson issued tho
following formal statement of his policy toward
tho Central and South American republics:
"One of the chief objects of my adniinistra-
tion will be to cultivate the friendship and de
serve the confidence of our sister republics of
Central and South America and tQ, promote in
every proper and honorable way ther interests
which are common to the peoples of the two
continents. I earnestly desire the most cordial
understanding and co-operation between tho
people and leaders of America and therefore
deem It my duty to make this brief statement:
"Co-operation is possible only when supported
at every turn by the orderly processes of just
government based upon law, not upon arbitrary
or irregular force. We hold, as 1 am sure all
thoughtful loaders of republican government
everywhere hold, that just government rests
always on the consent of the governed and that
there can be no freedom without order, based
upon law and upon the public conscience and
approval. We shall .look to make these prin
ciples the basis of mutual intercourse, respect
and helpfulness between our siatet republics
and ourselves.
"We shall lend our influence of every kind
to the realization of these principles in fact
and practice, knowing that disorder, personal
intrigue and defiance of constitutional rights
weaken and discredit government and injure
none so much as the people who are unfortu
nate enough to have their common life and com
mon affairs tainted and disturbed.
"We can have no sympathy with those who
seek to seize the power of government to ad
vance' their own personal interests or ambi
tion. We are tho friends of peace, but we
know that there can be no lasting or stable
peace in such circumstances. As friends, there
fore, we shall prefer those who act in the in
terest of peace and honor, who protect private
rights and respect the restraints of constitu
tional provision. Mutual respect seems to us
the indispensable foundation of friendship be
tween states as between individuals.
"The United States haB nothing to seek in
Central and South America except tho lasting
interests of tho people of the two continents,
the security of governments intended for the
people and for no special group or interest and
tho development of personal and trade rela
tionships between the two continents which
shall rebound to the profit and advantage of
both and Interfere with the rights and liberties
of neither.
"From these principles may be read so much
of the future policy of this government as it is
necepsary now to forecast and in tho spirit of
these principles, I may, I hope, be permitted
with as much confidence and earnestness to
extend to the governments of all tho republics
of America the hands of genuine disinterested
friendship and to pledge my own honor and the
honor of my colleagues to every enterprise of
peace and amity that a fortunate future may
Referring to tho above statement the Associ
ated Press says: The president read the abovo
statement to the cabinet today and issued it
shortly afterward to the press.
At the White House it was disclaimed that
tho statement was aimed at any particular
country. It was declared that it would bo sent
to the diplomatic representatives to the United
States of all Central and South American coun
tries alike.
Governor Hodges' Novel Plan for Kansas
The Kansas City Star prints the following
concerning Governor Hodges' novel sugges-
stlon as a substitute for the Kansas legislature:
Governor Hodges of Kansas affords another
example of what the right kind of imagination
will do.
Imagination is unafraid and it looks ahead
to big possibilities rather than behind at moss
grown traditions.
Governor Hodges has the kind of imagination
that is not afraid to destroy an established
order for the purpose, of building something bet
ter in its stead.
His recommendation to the Kansas legislature
for the abolition of an inefficient, inadequate
and outgrown legislative system for the estab
lishment of a modern, up-to-date and respon
sive rule for the state, was inspired by an
imagination that lays firm hold on the tomor
row and lets go of the yesterday.
For a quarter of a century the legislative
system of the states has been a barrier to pro
gress. Like the old ward form of government
for cities, it grew out of a system patterned
for the needs of a. nation, and its cumbersome
ness has made it an effectual bar to the applica
tion of modern thought to the government of
states, as the ward plan: has proved the obstacle
in the path of city development.
With this type of legislature, too complicated
in its makeup and too lacking in direct responsi
bility for efficient service, Governor Hodges has
had long experience. For 'eight years he 'was a
member of the body. For the present session
he has had the chance to watch it as an outsider,
but an outsider vitally interested in its success.
A legislature is composed of two independent
houses, and both houses so large as to shield
every member from responsibility and make
accountability to the people impossible.
As a result the people of Kansas have, ses
sion after session, for as many years as the
state has 'existed, witnessed tho humiliating
spectacle of its "representative" bodies doing
many things a majority of the people did not
want done, and flatly refusing to do things the
majority were demanding should bo done.
And they have called that "representative
The plan proposed by Governor Hodges is
simple, concrete and understandable. It pro
vides for a small, single body, composed' of
eight men, tho governor himself making tho
ninth member, all of them having equal powers
and equal responsibilities, but each of them
having specific responsibilities.
Every section of tho state would be repre
sented under this plan, but every member of
the legislature would be accountable to every
citizen of tho state because he would bo elected
from the state-at-largo and therefore would
represent every citizen in tho state.
Under the present system each voter is
represented by only one member in each house.
There are thirty-nine members of tho senate
and 124 members of tho house that he does not
vote for at all. He is not represented by them
in any way, and yet they legislate for him with
out being at all accountable to him.
The plan proposed by Governor Hodges has
every advantage over the old system, even to
the point of economy. But its great advantage
is that it puts the control of the legislature into
the hands of the people of the state and makes
the members accountable representatives.
Governor Hodges, being a man of imagina
tion, sees the people of every gtato turning
away from the obsolete system and turning to
a modern plan of government. So he urges
Kansas to take tho lead in tho big forward
And Kansas being a state of big imagination,
it is safe to say, will respond to the call.
Governor Hodges sent a special message to
the Kansas legislature urging the commission
form of government for the state of Kansas.
He did not send the message with any idea
that a bill covering it would be considered at
the present session but with the purpose of
putting the proposition up to the members and
to the people of the state for their consideration
in tho next two years.
The governor suggests that a commission of
eight, and at most sixteen, men, paid decent
salaries by the state, could handle tho legisla
tive work of Kansas much better and would
more nearly meet the needs of the people and
conditions that may arise than the present legis
lative system.
Governor Hodges in his message compli
mented the democratic legislature for its work,
but said the record was due to efficient member
ship rather than to ttie legislative system which
ho pronounced "antiquated and Inefficient."
"Our system," tho message says, "Is pat
terned after tho English parliament, with its
two houses based upon tho distinction between
the nobility and the common pooplc, each house
representing tho divers interests of thcao
Tho message continues In part:
"No such reason exists In Kansas for a dual
legislative system and even In England at tho
present time tho dual system has been practi
cally abandoned and the upper house shorn of
Its importance.
"1 believe wo should now concern ourselves
with devising a system for legislating that will
give us more efficiency and quicker response to
tho demands of our economic and social con
ditions and to tho will of tho people."
"You senators and representatives can not
but have observed the defects of our present
system. In a short session or fifty days you aro
required to study and pass upon hundreds of
measures and tho hurry with which this must
bo dono, must of necessity result in a number
of moro or less crudo and ill-digested laws,
which often puzzle learned jurists to Intorpret
with anything like satisfaction to themsolves
or to the public.
"Wo have recognized In this state also that
tho old methods of city government aro expen
sive, inefficient and unsatisfactory and every
where the commission plan of city government
Is being adopted in almost every case is yield
ing high class results.
"My judgment is that the governor should
be ex-officlo a member and presiding officor of
this assembly, and that It should bo permitted
to meet In such frequent and rogular or ad
journed sessions as the exigencies of tho public
business may domand; that their terms of office
be for four or six years, and that they bo paid
salaries sufficient to justify them In dovotlng
their entire time to the public business.
"Such a legislative assembly would not, I be
lieve, bo moro expenslvo than our present sys
tem. It would centralize responsibility and ac
countability, and under tho check of the recall,
would bo quickly responsive to the wishes of
tho people.
"A legislative assembly such as I have sug
gested could give ample time to the considera
tion of every measure, not only In relation to
its subject matter, but to tho drafting of it in
plain, concise and easily understandable lan
guage. It would be ready at any time to deal
with now conditions, and to provide relief in
emergency cases, and, with time to inform it
self about conditions, and to study tho needs
of the people, and of our state Institutions, there
seems to me to be no question but what It would
bo vastly more offlclont than our present system,
as well as vastly moro economical.
"Our present system has been In voguo since
Kansas became a state more than fifty years
ago, and in that time wo have seen the most
remarkable changes in sociological and econo
mic conditions take place.
"No private business concern now uses tho
methods of fifty years ago. In every activity of
modern life, now and progressive methods havo
been adopted.
"Is there any good reason why political in
stitutions should notchange with the changing
demands of modern social and economic condi
tions? I believo not. The leaven of this new
idea of modern business methods for modern
public business has taken root In the public
mind. Tho people aro everywhere talking It
over, and I am ono of those who believe that the
people can bo trusted to reach correct con
clusions about their own public business when
thgy are given adequate opportunity to study
and discuss any subject.
"The people of Kansas are progressive; they
know what they want. Give them a chance at
tho ballot box and they will get it. I am not
in sympathy with the idea that any public officer
knows better than the people themselves what
they want.
"I am not asking at this time that any legis
lative action be taken on this subject, but am
calling your attention to this subject now that
you may carry back to your people the Idea
herein expressed and talk it over with them
for tho next two years to the end that when
you come back to these halls at that time you
may know and be of a mind to execute the will
of the people of this state on this subject."
A dispatch from Topeka says the governor's
plan stirred the legislators with varying emo
tions. The progressive democrats, the young
men of the party, indorsed tho governqr's mes
sage. Also the progressives favored it. The
standpatters viewed it with alarm.
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