The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, May 01, 1920, Page 6, Image 6
The Commoner VOL. 20, NO. 5 !" I: It. - . 7 J A,- If l."f The Rgffcan Platform h . ' ' : 'Ond fact Id very clear and It should bo niado prominent namoly that tho Republican party is making Its fight, over MEN1 and not oyer PLATFORMS. Tho platform Booms to be lost sight of notwithstanding tho very radical differ ences in tho candidates. Thfa, in itself, should put Republicans on guard if ihoy feel an inter est in tho policies for which tho party is to stand. If any candidate secures a dominating following Ijoforo tho convention meets, that candidate, of course, will dictato the platform unless he is the candidate of some powerful group, in which caso Cne group will dictate tho platform for him. .,grho platform is moro important than tho man, antl it is disappointing, in a chaotic time like this, that a party liko tho Republican party Which is in control of congress, and apparently Confident of succoss in tho coming election, does riot put princlplo first and mon afterwards. When a party takes up tho practical work of conducting goVornmont, it turns naturally' and necessarily- to policies of govornmont, and poli cies aro merely surfaco manifestations of under lying principles. Principles, ought to control; policies ought to decido elections. It is easy enough to And mon with tho intelligence neces sary to carry out tho policies to which a party is pledgod, and it ought not to bo difficult to find mon with tho moral courage to announce in ad vance tho principles which they regard as funda mental and the policies which should bo pur sued at the time that is, tho policies which em Jhqdy tho principles believed in. It is easier to understand a principle than a "man; easier to form an opinion in regard to a policy than in regard to an individual. First Reasonable peoplo follow reasons and under stand reasons, and a principle is simply a reason upon which policies are built. Second Prin . ciples do not change after the election; mon i.8ometimes do. A man's political program may bo tho embodiment of many policies, differing intheir relative' influence upon him, and subject to change. Circumstances may induce him to surronder one policy in the hope of securing an , .other, which he considers moro important. And, ; influences MAY operate upon him after tho elec tion to make him change his point of view. The popular election of senators by the peoplo be came necessary bocause so many legislators '..either suppressed their purpose during the cam paign or changed their purpose afterward, to tho disappointment not to say betrayal of their constituents. So with presidential candidates, if a man runs upon his personality, that personality must be moro or less of a mystery to tho multitude. One rvotor may like him for one thing, another voter ...may be influenced by an entirely different sen .tonce in a speech or by what ho is believed to .stand for. If there is no definite program to which ho is pledged, many of the voters are like ly to be disappointed. For this reason I made tho following suggestion in a speech before the Constitutional Convention of Nebraska last Jan uary: 'Candidates for ofllces in which they can in fluence public policies should be compelled to filo a statement of their position on issues be fore tho public and to answer written inquiries (filed with designated officials) or give written refusal with reasons. Statements on public is- ' sues should be regarded as a contract between tho candidate and, his constituents, and viola tions should bo defined as embezzlement of power , and punished with imprisonment." The Republican party will have to deal with certain great questions, and it would seem im portant for the voters to align themselves accord ' ing to tho program to be carried out rather than make their support depend entirely on their at tachment to individuals. I venture to suggest a few questions on which the public should bo enlightened: First It may bo taken for granted that with ' thirty-five states ratifying tho suffrage amend ment, tho party will call for the completion of ratification if tho ono state now needed is not forthcoming before tho conventions. The prohibition amendment is a part of tho constitution and cannot be repealed without tho concurrence of two-thirds of both houses in the submission of a repealing amendment and rati fication by three-fourths of the states. This, of course, would seem impossible in view of tho al most unanimous endorsement of tho amendment and tho improved' conditions under it. But a constitutional provision is valueless except as it is interpreted by law and enforced. Congress having tho power to intorprot tho constitution and, in this caso having authority to fix the al coholic content of permitted beverages, may so change the Volstead law as to permit tho uso of a larger percentage of alcohol. As tho per cent of alcohol is tho wholo question that is, tho percentage decides whether or not tho beverage is intoxicating a wet congress might nullify the action of tho country and reopen the question. It is well known that the opponents of prohi bition are- actively at work in tho Republican party. They arejiot likely to bo strong enough at the Republican convention to propose a wet plank but they may bo strong enough to sup press a pledge ofr enforcement, or they may so dilute the enforcement plank that it will havo less than one-half of one per cent of certainty in it. Why is it that the drys, who are doubtless in a large majority in the party, have not called upon the candidates for an expression of opinion or put out a platform pledge for conventions to uso? Can the drys afford to be indifferent while the wets are at work? And what is the Republican party going to do about the bonus to tho service men. It does not seem likely that it will be able to reach a decision in regard to the method of raising the money necessary. Everybody is in favor of the bonus, but so far no one has been able to find a satisfactory source from which to draw the money. I am reminded of a successful mer chant who upon turning his business over to his son, advised him how to be successful without expense to himself: "Subscribe liberally to any church proposed" said the father, "no matter what the denomina tion; that will make you popular. Then FIGHT THE LOCATION and you will not have to pay the subscription." The plan is quite familiar and is applied in many ways. Just now the advocates of a bonus seem to be very much divided as to where to lo cate the tax. The first suggestion was that the money be raised by general taxation but objection was made that it would be difficult to find new forms of taxation. Then it was suggested that the bonus be paid in bonds but objection was made that a new issue of bonds would still further depress the price of outstanding bonds and would, in effect, be a tax upon the patriot ism of those who furnished money to carry on. the war. More recently it has been suggested that a fund be raised for the bonus by a tax on retail sales but that would be found still more objec tionable because "a tax on consumption makes tho poor man. pay more than his share and the rich man less than his share. Congressman Rainey, of Illinois, has proposed that a tax be 'levied upon the fortun.es made out of the war. It is alleged that more fortunes were created out of war profits during the period of the war August 1, 1914 to Nov. 11, 1918 than were created in all the previous history of the coun try from the discovery of America to the begin ning of the war in Europe. Congressman Rainey proposes that one-half of these war for tunes be set apart for the payment of a bonus to the soldiers who risked their lives while the fortunes were being made. This plan" would seem to be more just than any other proposed How will tho Republican party deal with this question? It cannot well refuse to do justice to the service men; will it also be careful to avoid doing injustice to tho taxpayers? Tho profiteer will he at tho Republican Nation al convention either as a delegate or as a lobby ist, just as ho has been at state capitals and at Washington. Why is it that the victims of profiteering are not in evidence? Why have they not demanded pledges from the candidates or formulated some specific declaration which can be embodied in the platform? Profiteering is on the increase; it is spreading like a contagious disease, with the difference that the middlemen aro trying to catch it instead of quarantining against. Is it possiblethat tho unrest, due to ighWcosrcan be ignored, and exploitation con tinued without protest? a But while profiteering is the acute economy ' issue tho fiercest struggle is between Ct flciaries of private monopoly and tho public wht 8S?k Jffote? tliemselves toy government owner, ship. Tho champions of monopoly are inkfii swing; their newspaper champions havo bSn deriding public ownership as a principle and mis representing it where it is in practice. Knowing the i tendency of the human mind to be consistent and to extend the application of a princini when once vindicated, these newspapers are afraid to admit the success of ANY public ownofi enterprise. uw When tho government was in control of thn operation of the railroads, every delayed train and every impairment of equipment was made the pretext for complaint. A delay in a tele phone call or a mistake in connection broueht 'forth a denunciation of governmental incanac ity, although ante-war officials and operators of railroads, telegraphs and telephones WERE tnt CHARGE DURING THE WAR and aro NOW in charge under private ownership. A New York editor recently contrasted the operation of tele phones since the lines went back with operation during the war and showed that the efficiency had been decreased. Pullman rates aro soon to be raised, and the railroads are clamorinc for higher rates. What is the Republican party going to do? Is it going to take any position on this issue, and if so, what posi tion? Why is the line not being drawn between the principle of government, ownership and the principle of private monopoly? And so, with tho various labor problems. The industrial situation is anything but satisfac tory. Have tho Republicans any plan for re storing harmony? The WILLING WORKER is the only wage-earner who can meet the pres ent demand in production. It is impossible for us to carry on a wage system under compul sion. Next to the farmers, the toilers in fac tory and in shop are our largest group of citi zens, and it goes without saying that their labor lies at tho very foundation of our nation's wel fare and progress. What platform pledge will the Republican convention give? What guar anties are its leaders making to this very im portant element? I have mentioned some of the questions which will necessarily come before the Repub lican convention questions, where difference of opinion is widest and most positive with a view of encouraging the candor and frankness which the present situation requires. Conven tions are quite representative, if the people speak when they choose their representatives; they are often, quite misrepresentative, if the peoplo deposit arbitrary and unrestrained power m me nanas or politicians with interests op posed to the interests of the masses. If there ever was a time for honesty in politics, that time has come. The masses in all parties are patriotic and anxious for the best things to bo done, but the VOICE of the masses must be EXPRESSED to be controlling. There is no danger of revolution in this country, because the people always act before abuses reach a point where the thought of force will be tolerated; but THE SOONER ABUSES ARE REMEDIED, THE, MORE EASILY CAN REMEDIES BE APPLIED. The re-adjustments made- necessary by tho war must be made and should be made immediately. I shall speak later of these same problems, as they must be dealt with .in the San Francisco convention. It would be a very encouraging thing if tho leaders of both parties would plainly state the positions of tho parties and frankly lay the" issues before the voters in or der that they may be calmly considered and wisely decided. No convention action can ho satisfactory if it does not represent the real sentiment of themembers of the party for which the convention speaks. There is enougn virtue in the country to protect the nation from harm enough salt to save the country from any threatened trouble, but the salt must not be allowed to lose its savor. The virtue of tw people should express itself NOW through tie various parties in order that the rivalry may oe an open- and honorable rivalry with victory i" tho most deserving. W. J. BRYAis. "The past risos oefore me like a nightmare, shouted tho California Republicans as they re membered the meatless daj 3, the wheatless days and the eatless days. s S3L S-eJ., mmmfriA'sw-h '- ltt '