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No. 3522 January 6, 1912
1. Some Possible American Presidents. By H. Hamilton Fyfe.
III. The Lantern Bearers. Chapter XVI. By Mrs. Alfred Sidgwick,
IV. Gil Blas. By William Morton Fullerton. QUARTERLY REVIEW
VII. Peasant Art.
XI. Royal and Elderly. By A. T. Quiller-Couch..
A PAGE OF VERSE.
XIV. Traveller's Joy. By Rosalind Travers.
XV. The Dying Patriot. By James Elroy Flecker.
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SOME POSSIBLE AMERICAN PRESIDENTS.
It is a very interesting struggle that is quietly going on in the United States over the proposal to make Mr. Woodrow Wilson, Governor of New Jersey and Principal of Princeton University, the Democratic candidate for the Presidency next year. It marks a fresh stage in the long conflict between the "bosses" and the people for the control of government. It is part of that big struggle of which the issue, not this year nor next, will decide whether the people can be fooled all the time, or whether the despotism of party managers is at an end.
That Mr. Woodrow Wilson could be elected, if he were put forward as candidate, seems extremely probable. He would carry the Democratic vote solid, and many of the Progressive Republicans, the Insurgents against high tariffs and truckling to wealth, would support him. Even without them he would probably win. The prevailing sentiment of the country is believed to be Democratic. Since the Democrats carried the House of Representatives last year, it has been the view of most American politicians and writers on politics that a Democratic President is more than a possibility. Mr. Woodrow Wilson would be a strong candidate with an excellent chance of victoryif he can secure the nomination.
Up to within the last few months this seemed more than doubtful. Lately the idea of his candidature has become familiar. He is now spoken of as the most likely choice, though it is true that the "bosses" distrust him as deeply as ever. They have good rea
tion of the hour the "bosses" thought he must be a safe man.
Even before he was elected, he began to open their eyes. He assured the Progressive Republicans that he sympathized with their programme of reforms. He denounced the "boss" system. He pledged himself to work for the regeneration of the Democratic party. The managers looked at one another and wondered if they had made a mistake. However, they were accustomed to fine sentiments in election speeches, and knew how little they usually stood for. Even when, after his election, the Governor advocated checking "the abuse of the privilege of incorporation," an efficient control over public utilities, a Workman's Compensation Act which would not compel poor individuals to fight powerful composite employers, and laws against corrupt practices at elections even then they still imagined he was "talking through his hat."
He soon undeceived them. eral Senator had to be elected by the New Jersey Legislature. A "direct primary" was held; that is to say, the voters of the State were polled under the new system which aims at giving the people back their power. A certain Mr. Martine had a majority of votes. Now the Legislature is not absolutely bound to follow the popular "instruction," and in this case the Democratic machine proposed to disregard it. Their party had in the meantime come into control of the Legislature, and one of the "bosses" decided that he would like to be Senator. But the Governor would not hear of it. He insisted that the "primary" was a serious indication of the people's wish, whether the Democrats had taken it seriously or not; and he added a gibe to his in
jury which doubled its sting. "Some folks fear," he said, "that we shall ruin the party. There is nothing to fear. We are only removing a wart, and that is not a dangerous operation."
Later on he forced through the State Legislature a Direct Elections Bill, although it was desperately opposed both by the Democrats and by the Republican machines. One of the "bosses" on his side accused him at this juncture of ingratitude. "The organization he was trying to kill had elected him Governor." "No, no," said the Governor; "the organization nominated me only. It was the people who elected me, you know." Is it any wonder the Federal Democratic "bosses" are unwilling to let the Presidential nomination go to a man who has so woefully disappointed the State "bosses"? The weight of the machine will be thrown against him. Can the people put him through?
The forces of progress are rallying to his support. The New York Outlook, for which Mr. Roosevelt writes, gave him a number of pages lately for the expression of his views. That was a straw in the wind. Mr. Roosevelt himself will neither come forward nor work actively for any candidate. After his triumphant return from the European progress he told all his friends that he meant to keep out of politics for some time. He was persuaded to break his resolution, and the failure of his New York State campaign broke his influence over the greater part of the country. The West is still faithful, but elsewhere he is believed by most people to be politically dead. They do not realize what vital force there is in him. He does not quite realize it himself. He thinks (so he assured me last year) that he has passed over the crest of the wave and is now sinking into the trough. But he has often thought this before. Unless the American Ship of State should unexpectedly glide into calm waters, Theodore Roosevelt
Not that the two are alike. are, indeed, in most ways the antithesis of one another. Mr. Wilson is analytical, sardonic, a keen knife-edge of a man. He has made fun more than once of Mr. Roosevelt's knack of rushing in with a big stick before he quite knows whose head he ought to break with it. "I am told," said the President of Princeton a few years ago, "that as soon as Mr. Roosevelt thinks, he talks, a simultaneous miracle that is not, according to our education, the customary way of forming an opinion." In appearance Mr. Wilson is spare, wiry, professional. He scarcely looks Women call him
his fifty-five years. ugly until they hear him talk. His features are what would be described here as "typically American." expression in repose is hard and cynical. His mouth and chin are powerful, but harshly moulded; his eyes narrow and astigmatic, with a steely glint in them which suggests either grim determination or irony which bites, like acid on an etcher's plate.
There is nothing picturesque about him, nothing to touch the popular imagination save his honest wish, backed by solid character, to "give the people back their chance." Republican policy has been for fifty years, he asserts, too favorable to vested interests. He would not bear hardly upon vested interests; he is too wise for that. But he would keep the ring fairly for them and the public. He would stop underhand fighting. He would not let consumers be pillaged, as they have been by many of the Trusts. An arraignment of Corporation piracy by a scholar and historian rings more truly in the public ear than the voices of regular politicians. People are rather weary of machinemade politics. They like the idea of a
College President taking a hand, as Mr. Wilson did in New Jersey, and "seeing the bosses" with disastrous results to them.
Against his honesty and goodwill are set the fact that he is an amateur. He was once interrupted in a speech by this accusation. "Yes," he said, "that is too bad, isn't it?" He paused. The audience half smiled. "But I have one satisfaction," he went on, punching out the words as a machine in a ship-yard punches holes in steel-plates. fessional plays the game, you know, because it pays him. An amateur plays because he loves to play, and to win if he can by fair means in a fair field. I'm afraid I am only an amateur. But I'm having a most interesting time of it."
Another taunt, "the student in politics," is too ill-founded to do him much harm. He has never had the student's type of mind. "I am not an educator," he objected soon after he became President of Princeton. "I despise the mere accumulation of knowledge. want our students to feel the formative influence of the University in their lives. I want to make them good citizens." No student spoke there, but a man of the great world, seeing beyond the class-room and the library, asking of the lecture and the printed book not "what facts can you tell us?" but "how can you help us to live?"
That is the link between him and Mr. Roosevelt. They are Realists both. Names do not satisfy them. Words are nothing unless action follows. the other hand, neither Roosevelt nor Woodrow Wilson are men of ideas. They may seem to be because they assimilate and give forth so promptly other people's ideas. But this is merely the quickness of the mind deceiving the eye. The difference between them in this matter is that Mr. Roosevelt takes up an idea upon his own judgment of its merits. The test
for him is, Does it appeal to me? Mr. Wilson is more cautious. He asks, Does it seem to be going well? Has it been tried anywhere and proved a workable proposition?
Yet on one question Mr. Wilson has spoken out plainly, while Mr. Roosevelt has never made his position clear. That is the question of Tariff. Above all others, this is likely to be the battle-ground for the "Presidential." Nothing short of a wave of prosperity can check the growing desire in the United States for cheaper raw materials. The Democrats carried the House of Representatives by promising reductions of duty. Faithful to their pledges, they passed three Tariff Bills-the Wool Bill, the Cotton Bill, and the Farmers' Free List Bill. President Taft killed them all with his power of veto. They were quack remedies, he urged. They would disorganize vast industries, employing huge capital and enormous numbers of workpeople. The Republicans applauded his "words of wisdom." The Democrats declared he was protecting the interests which gave him his power. The Insurgents looked sadly on.
Upon those who had no decided views either way Mr. Taft's energetic action made a good impression. His "stock had sunk low" because he had done nothing. As soon as he asserted himself he began to be talked about again; and in a democracy anyone can aspire to anything who can manage to keep his name on voters' tongues. But hard upon this rise in Mr. Taft's popularity came the result of the Canadian election and the defeat of his Reciprocity plan. That, in a country where nothing succeeds like success, was a crushing blow. The platform on which he meant to stand was broken beneath him. Nothing remains but a scrapheap of splintered hopes. Mr. Taft will be nominated as the Republican candidate-that seems certain. But