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Let us go back a little. All speculations as to the result of the next contest for the presidency must take as a point of orientation the last Democratic national national convention. convention. Only in the most charitable view of the proceedings of that assembly can it be praised as an instance of democracy proving itself a conference of 1446 delegates engaging in a prolonged struggle over the choice of platform and candidate, and demonstrating that wisdom which we like to believe reposes in any representative body of American citizens.

The exercises began on June 24, and the convention's twenty-nine ses

sions were not concluded until the early hours of the morning of July 10. There were few moments during the whole period when a disinterested observer would have gained the impression that the delegates were met a deliberative body and were animated by no other desire than to make a wise choice of the fittest candidate, representative of Democratic principles, and likely to appeal strongly to the electorate. In 1920 Mr. Harding had received seven million more votes than were given for Mr. Cox, his Democratic opponent. This was to be borne in mind in view of the fact that Mr. Wilson's vote over Mr. Hughes in 1916 had been under a million, giving the Democrats a majority of only twenty-three in the Electoral College. The issue of the League of Nations, bequeathed to his party by Mr. Wilson and manfully supported by Mr. Cox, had failed to interest the people, and the Democrats faced the responsibility of finding more attractive issues on which to make their appeal.

At the hour the convention of 1924 met, the hope of Democratic success,

Copyright, 1927, by THE CENTURY Co. All rights reserved.

with any candidate and on any platform, depended upon the harmonious intelligent action of the delegates and an early enthusiastic agreement upon a candidate conspicuously fit and likely to win to his support a very considerable body of Republicans and independents.

But defeat was foreshadowed long before the convention adjourned. After the deadlock became fixed, the country ceased to take the proceedings seriously. The gathering became merely a show, an exhibition of midsummer madness; and the radio, carrying to remote hamlets the clamor, the senseless demonstrations, conveyed the idea that a circus had become disorderly and unmanageable, with the performers and animals running wild.

The nomination of Mr. Davis on the one-hundred-and-third ballot was not the result of an honest compromise; he was caught up in despair after the major elements of the conflict were exhausted and realized that they were making themselves and their party ridiculous. Mr. Davis's fitness for the presidency was indisputable; hardly another man in the nation had so many qualifications. But folly must have its last fling. As if with conscious and malevolent irony, Mr. Davis was tagged with a running-mate whose name revived a distrust of the party without compensating gains. The merriment in the Republican camp over the antics of the convention became a howl of derision when Mr. Charles W. Bryan was named for vice-president, obviously to assuage the sufferings of those Democrats who would inevitably regard Mr. Davis as the tool of the money devils. It is to be said

for Mr. Davis that he assumed the leadership of the party thus conferred upon him in an admirable spirit. His personal campaign was conducted on a high plane. With a feeble national organization and the party's morale shattered, he went through with the thing like a gentleman and a patriot.

Mr. Davis received a total of 8,386,503 votes; Mr. Coolidge, 15,725,016. These figures tell the story and point the moral. If 1928 should witness another such convention as the turbulent affair of 1924, the result could hardly be different. There are, in spite of much cynical testimony to the contrary, a good many American citizens who think, and they are not greatly disturbed by the thunder of the captains and the shouting. A party which strikes the key of farcecomedy in the transaction of its business may amuse, or it may become a bore, but short of a miracle it cannot win.


Experience is the least respected of all the world's teaching forces, but with the foregoing epitome of recent Democratic history in mind it would seem that with another campaign only a few months distant every effort should be made to avoid the blunders of 1924.

I do not believe that either Governor Smith or Mr. McAdoo could be elected president even if either could be nominated. The abrogation of the two-thirds rule, which is written in the very alphabet of Democratic convention procedure, might give one or the other the nomination, but it would be an empty honor. As the cards lie to-day, neither of these

gentlemen would have the ghost of matic relations. What hope would

a show of being elected.

Democrats may as well face the prospect now. Governor Smith will not do, and Mr. McAdoo is impossible.

I have spoken frequently against the Klan organization in my own State, from the time it began operations there, took over the Republican party, and became a mischievous power. The meek submission of the Republicans to Klan domination has been a costly thing for the people of Indiana, resulting in constant political scandal, and with a deterring effect, not negligible, upon the prosperous course of business.

The intrusion upon our politics of religious issues is deplorable, in great affairs or small. But a spasm of intolerance is afflicting the country, nor is it confined to the manifestations of the Klan. The battles between fundamentalists and modernists in Protestantism offer phenomena equally discouraging. But we are obliged to deal with realities; and it is folly to pretend that at this time the nomination of any member of the Roman Catholic Church for the presidency, no matter how well fitted by intellect, character, or administrative experience he might be, could fail to precipitate bitter controversy. This is a humiliating confession. We of America should of course be greater than this. But political issues would inevitably be blended with religious questions without advantage to either. It is easy to imagine a national campaign not only strident with religious debate but likely to be profoundly disturbing in other directions, as for instance in our diplo

there be, the anti-Catholics would demand, for a fair handling of any difficulty with a Catholic country if the head of the American government were a Catholic? The lofty heights of bigotry and vulgarity attainable in such a controversy have recently been happily indicated by the Hon. J. Thomas Heflin, a Democratic senator from Alabama.


Governor Smith is wet. McAdoo is dry. Mr. McAdoo's Toledo speech, evidently prepared with care to launch his campaign for the nomination, failed to arouse any great enthusiasm in Democratic quarters. He certainly erred gravely in thinking that his idea of a federal constabulary to enforce prohibition would meet with favor among old-fashioned States' rights Democrats. A number of the leading newspapers of the South were quick to rebuke him for so flagrant an assault upon traditional Democratic principles. It is obvious that this idea of a broad extension of the federal police power to enforce the Eighteenth Amendment would suggest at once to many minds that the long-neglected Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments are equally worthy of attention. I seem to recall a time when "No Force Bill!" was the rallying-cry of Southern Democrats. Just how large an army would be required to stop the importation or the domestic manufacture of alcoholic beverages is an interesting question. Speculation on this point would be sure to figure prominently in any campaign that concentrated upon the Eighteenth Amendment if Mr. McAdoo were the nominee. The Bill of Rights

contains certain guarantees which can hardly be trampled underfoot to enforce the Eighteenth Amendment unless we are ready to begin uprooting the most precious safeguards and guarantees of our freedom.

Prohibition is bound to be discussed in the Democratic convention of 1928, but it cannot be sanely considered if the two candidates who deadlocked the convention three years ago stand as the protagonists of the two sides of the question. What loyal Democrats everywhere demand is harmony. The morale of the party must be restored. To permit either a religious question or a moral question (if prohibition may be called a moral question) to become the paramount issue is an alternative that cannot be viewed with equanimity. Governor Smith, by combining both issues in his own person, would arouse a bitter hostility never encountered by any other presidential candidate. If nominated, Mr. McAdoo, with enforcement of the Volstead Law the chief issue in his campaign, would find himself leading an enfeebled legion to certain slaughter.

It is for the good of the nation that the Democratic party be maintained as a vigorous fighting body. It has, to be sure, trifled at times with its fundamental principles and been false to its own traditions; but surviving many defeats it offers the people their only hope of resistance to growing Republican rapacity and arrogance. Its perpetuation as an effective organization is not only desirable but essential if the people are to have watchful critics in Washington to detect and publish

the increasing intimacies and alliances between the Republican party and Big Business.

The present political apathy is due largely to a feeling of helplessness in the electorate. There is a growing cynicism as to our politics by reason of the seeming impossibility of correcting abuses. Political corruption, of which there are constant evidences; the sale of senatorships to the highest bidder; privilege steadily broadening its domain; the lack of a courageous handling of such a problem as, for example, that presented by the plight of the farmers; the multiplication of political jobs; the marked bureaucratic tendency fostered by Republicanism all blaze the path of Democratic responsibility and duty.

There was never any such body of faithful earnest partizans as the membership of the Democratic party. It is a splendid fellowship of patriotic Americans. With the business of keeping up local organizations in the face of repeated defeats, with few newspapers of influence to assist by enlightening the people as to the issues, the earnest loyal members have a right to demand sanity of its national conventions.

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