The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, May 01, 1920, Page 6, Image 6

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    The Commoner
VOL. 20, NO. 5
- .
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
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
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
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
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 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 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
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.
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