Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
REPRESENTATION. In the political sense of the term, representation is the deputing of the political rights of the many into the hands of a few, who, in the name of the commonwealth, enact and oftentimes execute the laws which are to govern the community. It has also in practice grown to be a recognition of localities independent of population, which are supposed to be a necessary part in law making, so as to make the governing body a reduced picture of all the varied interests of society, geographical and personal, the political rights of which have been recognized.
—The act of voting is not a necessary element of representation. It is a mere proof that the representative is the deputed authority for those who elect him. Judges who are not elected, administrators who are not elected, are in many respects as truly representative in the power they wield as the members of the legislative body who are directly deputed by the people. Even in monarchies the king may represent, and in most instances does represent, as to his right to reign, the actual will of the people, although the existing generation may have had no instrumentality to express its will on his right to rule.
—The developed modern state everywhere, where civilized conditions exist, acts in a representative capacity. Only in the case of governments which are still in an undeveloped condition is the will of the monarch the ostensible rule of action on his part. In the constitutional state the will of the monarch, as expressed in the laws and in administrative decrees, acts in the name of the people, and he bases his justification of conduct on the assumption that it is expressive of that will, and that his kingly office is representative of the whole people. In that sense the history of representation is part and parcel of the history and development of the idea of the state as contradistinguished from personal government. Even Louis XIV., when he said l'état c'est moi, recognized the fact, that the state and the person of the king were two different things, but expressed his conviction that he represented both in one.
—In a narrower sense, and the sense in which the term is used in this article, representation is confined to the consideration of that form of the developed modern state which gives to electors in the community the right directly to depute persons, in whom they have confidence and trust, to represent them in a legislative body, and to give, in advance, their sanction to the laws they may enact. In this sense representation is quite a modern idea. The ancients knew it not. Although Aristotle, in his "Politics," speaks of a certain census, who shall elect a council intrusted with deliberative power, who shall be bound to exercise this power agreeably to established laws, he speaks of a hypothetical state, and not of any which down to his period of time he had any knowledge of. Freeman says, in speaking of the Amphictyonic council, the Achaian league, and the Lycian league, in which the cities had a certain proportion of votes in accordance with their size, "that the ancient world trampled on the very verge of representative government without actually crossing the boundary, and that in ancient Greece the assembly which acted upon proposed laws and gave them their sanction was composed of the freemen themselves meeting in their personal capacity, and representation was in the adoption and passage of laws unknown." The votes that were taken in Rome were, as a general rule, votes for executive officers. The tribunes and ædiles of the Roman republic were not law makers, but they had the power to call assemblies of the people, who assumed to vote exceptional laws known as plebiscite. The ædiles were judges, and even comitia curiata were assemblies of people, not representatives, for the election of magistrates, and laws were enacted by the senate and by the centuries who were patricians or noblemen, men bound to military service, and had nothing of the representative character in the narrower acceptation of the term.
—Montesquieu was right when he found the germ of modern representative systems in the forests of Germany. The Teutons, who became the conquerors of Rome, were the originators of the thought "no taxation without representation"; they had their volkmote, where the wisest among the tribes, by a process of natural selection, instead of by ballot, sat to determine on the more important measures which were to govern the tribe. They had constant popular assemblies, where the popular will was expressed, and the spirit of personal freedom was so strong among them that they elected their eldermen, heretogs and kings.
—The witenagemote of early English history was not a strictly representative body in the modern sense. Langmead, in his "History of the English Constitution," says that it was an aristocratic body. Its members were the king, the ealdormen, or governors of shires, the king's thegns, the bishops, abbots, and generally the principes sapientes of the kingdom. Sapientes witan, wise men, was the common title of those who attended it. Its size showed that it was not a popular assembly, as the largest amount of signatures which have been observed was not above 106. The powers of the witenagemote were as supreme and even of wider scope than those of parliament. It had the power of deposing the king for misgovernment, and English history gives several instances of the exercise of that power. It had the power of electing the king. It took a direct share in every act of government. With the Norman conquest came a period of obscuration of the power of this early representative body, if so it may be called, and thenceforth, down to 1265, no body that might be termed representative was in existence in England. During the contest between John and the barons a parliament was convoked, wherein sat four knights from each shire, to be returned by the sheriff. There is no evidence that these knights were elected, but as there was already machinery for election in existence in the various shires, of knights to nominate recognitors in civil suits and a grand jury for the presentment of criminals, we may reasonably conclude, says Langmead, that the accustomed machinery was now made use of for the first time for the novel purpose of country representation in the general assembly. The next instance, is in 1254, when two knights of the shire were to be called to the king's council at Westminster. These were directed to be chosen by the country.
—The next great step in advance in representative institutions was made by Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, and although he probably was not the founder of representative government in England, he certainly was, says the same authority, "the founder of the house of commons," because it was the first parliament which was convoked in England in which sat the burgher class, which, together with the freeholders of the counties, constituted the newly developed third estates of the realm. The writs were issued Dec. 14, 1264, whereby the sheriffs were directed to return two knights from each shire, two citizens from each city, and two burgesses from each borough. From that period until 1295, was what may be termed a transitionary period, parliament being summoned with and without burgesses; but in that year, the 23d of Edward I., the king summoned a parliament to meet at Westminster in November following, so constituted as to represent the whole nation. The writs which summoned this parliament were directed, as in 1264, to the sheriff, ordering an election and return of two knights from each county, two citizens from each city, and two burgesses from each borough. The inferior clergy were also required to attend, so as to make this assembly, whereby the king's necessities for money were to be relieved, the most general one that had yet been convoked.
—The division of parliament into two houses was effected early in the fourteenth century. The commons was composed of two elements, the commons of the shires and the burgesses. The knights voted with the barons. Representatives of the boroughs formed a distinct assembly, deliberating and voting apart. These were strictly called the commons. The knights joined with the commons, and this fusion, says the authority last quoted, was the result of the existence in the English constitution of a condition which distinguished it from every kindred constitution in Europe, the absence of an exclusive noble caste.
—In the continental states the nobles formed a distinct class, distinguished, by privileges inherent in their blood, from ordinary freemen, and transmitting their privileges, and in some countries their titles also, to all their descendants in perpetuity. In England, on the contrary, the privileges of nobility were confined to one only of the family, the actual possessor of the peerage. Sons of peers from the time of the Norman conquest were commoners, and on a perfect equality, as regards legal and political privileges, with the humblest citizen. Even the heir to the peerage, though he might bear a title by courtesy, was still, so long as his father was alive, a commoner like his younger brothers. No restraint was laid upon free intermarriage in all ranks, and the highest offices of state were always legally open to all freemen. "This made the knight the connecting link between the baron and the shopkeeper." The oldest son even of the earl of Bedford, one of the proudest titles of nobility in England, offered himself, in the reign of Henry VIII., for a seat in the house of commons. The house of commons in that way became the representative not only of a single order in the state, says Langmead, but, with the exception of the peerage titles, represented the whole nation, and, as a natural consequence, has drawn to itself the predominant authority in the state.
—During the reign of Edward III. the commons established these three great rights: first, that all taxation without the consent of parliament was illegal; second, the necessity for the concurrence of both houses in legislation; and third, the right of the commons to inquire into and amend abuses of the administration.
—The Tudor sovereigns, arbitrary rulers that they were, did not feel strong enough to dispense with the representative body, but they sought to obtain control over it by creating a large number of insignificant boroughs for the purpose of increasing the influence of the crown in the house of commons. The same authority says, that between the reigns of Henry VII. and Charles II. no less than 180 members were added to the house of commons by royal charter alone. The last instance of this abuse of prerogative was the creation of the borough of Newark by Charles II. Thenceforth the house of commons took the issue of writs into its own hands, and no new borough was created in England and Wales until the reform act of 1832.
—At the date of the union with Scotland the number of members was 513, this act of union having added 45 Scottish representatives. and the act of union with Ireland added 100 Irish members. Since that time Scotland has added to its contingent fifteen members, and Ireland five. The house of commons has now about 656 members.
—To England the world owes the development of representative institutions, as it did, at an earlier period than any other modern government, confer upon its representative body the sovereign power of the state. The development of the principle of representation proceeded with less continuity and upon different lines in other countries.
—A representative system is the only one by which large communities can enjoy the advantages of self-government. The ancient system of direct participation in law-making was possible only in a very circumscribed domain. The moment the domain became larger than that of a single city, representation necessarily had to take the place of direct participation, and the alternative was representation or despotism. Every fructifying institution of a social character takes unto itself different forms, in conformity with the habits and nature of the people. Even the Christian religion produced very different results in Spain from that which it produced in England, and so it is with representative government. The habits and genius of the people in continental Europe produced from representation a very different result from that which was achieved in England. The cities of the middle ages were governed by a form of representation materially different from the modern manifestation of the same political development. The nobles of the city generally composed its senate, in imitation of the Roman system, and councils were chosen in the main by the guilds, of which in Florence there were twenty-one; but at a later period only twelve of these possessed governmental powers. What corresponds to the mayor of the city was in Florence the gonfalonier. So jealous was Florence of its magistrates that it selected them by lot, and gave them power but for two months. The citizens met in the great square and voted directly upon measures. The selfishness of the nobility and the turbulence of the guilds' train bands, the jealousies of the guilds of each other, the corrupting influence of the wealth of the great merchants, all conspired to undermine this form of government. The great wars between the powerful monarchies, which trained their soldiers to feats of arms, of which the militia of free cities were utterly incapable, gradually made it impossible for the independent mediæval cities to put a force into the field to contend against the warriors of the great monarchs. Charles V. and Philip II., and, before them, the rulers of the Roman empire and the popes, gradually destroyed the freedom of such Lombardian cities as still had the vestiges of self-government left.
—The constitutions of these municipal states are, however, interesting studies to the investigator of representative government, as they present a form of representation which has a merit ignored in the modern representative system. and which, in one way or another, should be sought to be re-established, and that is, the representation of the community in conformity with its actual natural affinities when acting independently of governmental interference. Society classifies itself even under its most democratic form, and these classes have to the community and commonwealth different values. A complete representation would take some note of such natural classifications of society. and seek to incorporate them as natural constituencies for representation. In the Florentine republic, and, indeed, in all the cities in the Lombardian and Hanseatic league, the representation of the trade guilds, in proportion to their numerical strength and their importance to the common-wealth, was conforming the theory of representation to the natural classification of the community, and therefore, in that particular, representation was more thorough in those cities than it is in the modern state. Creating artificial entities by drawing geographical lines around them, and giving to a majority in such entities the sole right of representation, is utterly to disregard these natural affinities of a community, and to base representation upon geographical lines instead of the interests of the community, and makes a representative body so constituted far from being what Mirabeau says it should be, a reduced photograph of the whole community.
—In Switzerland and in France representation took unto itself again a different form. From the time of the overthrow of the Roman empire the mountain cantons of Switzerland maintained forms of self-government, and without the intervention of chiefs, these mountaineers assembled in the open air, voted their own laws, and elected their own magistrates to execute them. The larger towns of Switzerland, being favored more especially by Count Rudolph of Hapsburg, were made municipalities early in the thirteenth century. On his death, the apprehension that his successors might attempt to impair the liberty of the cantons and the self-government of the towns, caused an alliance to be entered into by them for the freedom of Switzerland. The Swiss confederation was formed in 1351, and from that time the Swiss uninterruptedly maintained a republic, with a considerably developed system of representation. In the rural and mountain cantons there was but little representation. The town meeting was assembled whenever occasion required. Every inhabitant above sixteen years of age was permitted to vote, and they acted directly upon the laws which were to govern them. The federal constitution of the Swiss government down to 1848 was that of a confederation but loosely banded together. The Sonderbund revolution, which sought to dismember the Swiss confederation in the interest of the Jesuits, was the means to strengthen it, and it caused the adoption of a new constitution wherein the supreme legislative power was intrusted to a federal assembly consisting of two deliberative bodies, the national council and the council of state, the one representing the entire Swiss nation, and the other the sovereign bodies of the Swiss cantons. No federal law could be made without the concurrence of both of these chambers. These bodies nominate the federal authorities; they declare peace and war; they regulate the postoffice and the coinage. The executive power was confided to a federal council of several members elected by the assembly, its president being the president of the confederation. Every man aged twenty not expressly deprived of the rights of a voter by the laws of his own canton, was entitled to vote, and was himself eligible to the national council. (May's "Democracy in Europe," vol ii., p. 410.) The Swiss do not fully confide matters of legislation to their representatives, but, by the instrumentality of the referendum, reserve a veto power in the following form. Whenever 30,000 qualified voters demand it, any law passed by the Swiss congress must be submitted for ratification or rejection to the people, and many instances have occurred in the recent history of that republic where the people rejected laws which the legislature had adopted. In the several cantons the referendum has also been made part of the organic law, so that upon all the more important measures affecting the cantons the people have repeatedly vetoed the measures enacted by the representative bodies of the cantons. This system of referendum has its inconveniences, but so long as representation is limited to majorities only, and those of arbitrary geographical divisions, which makes of modern representative bodies an artificial and unnatural representative body, the referendum is perhaps the only corrective of so faulty a method of representation.
—In France the estates of the realm of the middle ages were councils of barons and prelates. In 1302 Philip the Fair summoned the third estate, who were delegates from the towns, to meet the nobles and prelates of Notre Dame. This was the first convention of the states general. They were afterward assembled irregularly in times of national difficulty and danger, or when the necessities of the kings drove them to demand extraordinary subsidies. (May, vol. i., p. 95.) Again, in 1484 the states general were convoked so as to insure a national representation, and embraced delegates from the country as well as from the towns. These deliberations were conducted, not by orders, but in six bureaus, which comprised the representatives of all the orders according to their territorial divisions. (May, vol. i., p. 96.) The municipalities of France could not long survive the centralizing spirit of the French monarchy. So little of the spirit of self government existed in France that when, in 1692, Louis XIV. abolished all municipal elections and sold the right of governing towns to the rich citizens, there was scarcely a murmur heard. The states general, although from time to time convoked, never had and never asserted any rights as against the crown. They laid their complaints at the foot of the throne, which were treated as the throne saw fit, to be spurned, or to be enacted into law. The states general had no rights which they could maintain against the crown. The French parliaments were not representative bodies. They were nominated by the crown, and were really high courts of justice. For several hundred years representative government was unknown in France; when, by the reforms under Turgot, at the time of Louis XVI., the provincial assemblies were once more revived, and local self-government was again endowed with life and vigor. At the suggestion of the parliament of Paris the states general were again convoked, which was the beginning of the French revolution, and led to the national assembly; the national assembly led to the convention, which was elected by universal suffrage; the convention led to a directory, and the directory again to an empire.
—The theory of representation became, however, formally established from the period of the French revolution in the constitutions of France, and, under one form of government or another, representative bodies were thenceforth permanent institutions of the nation. Under the first empire the citizens of each arrondissement designated a tenth of them as electors. These were the communal notabilities. From this list the public functionaries of the arrondissement were chosen. These, in turn, selected a tenth of their number for the purpose of furnishing the functionaries of the departments. These new tenths selected on their part again a tenth, which formed a list of the national notabilities, from which the public functionaries for the nation were taken. The presidents of all electoral colleges, all grand officers, commanders, and officers of the legion of honor, and all heads of departments, the emperor selected without reference to an election.
—Under the restoration a chamber of deputies of 430 members was constituted, of which 258 were elected by the colleges of arrondissement, and 172 by the colleges of departments. A census of a very high order limited the voting power to a small proportion of the French people. This was all swept away by the July (1830) government. The electoral system under the republic of 1848 suppressed all property qualification, and every Frenchman twenty-one years of age, subject only to the condition of a residence of six months, was invested with the right of voting. The vote was taken by ballot. Subsequently, modifications were made in this universal suffrage by raising the time of residence to three years, and imposing again a property qualification. It was the combination between President Napoleon and the class of citizens who were disfranchised by the act of the republic, which made Napoleon at first dictator and then placed him upon the throne of France as Napoleon III.
—In The Netherlands, ever since 1815, the laws have been enacted by representative bodies, who are elected by the inhabitants above twenty-three years of age, and who pay some small direct tax.
—In Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain and Portugal the representative bodies were mainly representative of special interests, such as nobles, clergy, towns, etc., and were not true representatives until a very recent period, when, by the amended constitutions of those countries, some approximation was made to representation upon the English and American model.
—Representative institutions are everywhere gaining ground. England has been the pattern, and America the most prominent example, of the successful operation of representative government. The organization of the people for purposes of representation, adopted by these two nations, forms the model on which reforms in representation in other countries are gradually introduced. Government by representatives is much more than a makeshift, adopted, in consequence of the extent of modern communities, to secure power to the people and yet not take their direct votes on the laws which are to govern them, inasmuch as this method is obviously impracticable where the community is larger than that of a single town.
—It has been observed by Lieber, that representation for the state at large constitutes one of the essential differences between the deputative mediæval estates and the modern representation by legislatures. The representative is not substituted for something which would be better were it practicable, but has its own substantive value. It is a bar against absolutism of the executive on the one hand, and of the domination of the demos on the other. It is the only contrivance by which it is possible to introduce at the same time an essentially popular government and the supremacy of the law, or the union of liberty and order. It is an invaluable high school to teach the handling of the instruments of free institutions. It is the one most efficacious preventive of the growth of centralization and bureaucratic government, without which no clear division of the functions of government can exist. Many examples may be cited from Grecian history to show how little the sense of responsibility was connected with the direct voting, and how easily the general populace could be misled by the demagogues, and at the assembly at the agora be cheated or cajoled out of their votes in favor of measures which they regretted almost as soon as enacted. The representative system checks and prevents such hasty action, and is, therefore, an institution which in itself secures good government. The representation makes the fact of government being a trust a vital and realizable truth. It is, however, of vital importance that a representative organization of the community be properly made, and that the representative body should be truly the best exponent of the popular will, because otherwise the majority of the people would not possess the reins of government, and the administration would fall into the hands of cabals, juntas or political organizations, which misrepresent it.
—The American model of representation is twofold. I. National. The president of the United States under the American system is elected by a supposed electoral college, constituted in a manner to be designated by the legislatures of the various states. It meets in the several states, and is composed of the same number that the state has representatives in congress, who determine in these several states upon their choice for president of the United States. These electoral colleges have in time become mere registering machines of party will, and are not deliberative bodies in any sense. Immediately after the electoral colleges are constituted at the general election with reference to which they are to perform their function, the election is practically determined in advance of their meeting. There is but a single instance in the history of the United States of an elector refusing to cast his vote in conformity with the party dictate which elected him.
—The senators of the United States are elected by the legislatures of the states. Members of congress of the United States are elected by the voters in contiguous representative districts artificially created, one from each district, each district containing, as nearly as possible, about 131,000 inhabitants. The apportionment of these districts is left to the legislature of the state, to be fixed after each decennial census. The state representative bodies are generally a senate and an assembly or house of representatives. The senate, the smaller body, is elected by larger districts, also geographically contiguous, and the house of representatives by smaller districts. In different states different provisions exist, making the term of service of senators a longer period than that of the members of the lower house. With the exception of Illinois, which has adopted the plan of the three-cornered constituencies, electing three members from each district—as a rule, but one member is elected from each district—the majority or plurality, as the case may be, of the district elects a member. Local representative bodies, like town or city councils, are elected by smaller districts, composed of contiguous territory equal in population, one from each district; and the majority or plurality, as the case may be, in the district elects such representative. Where executive officers are to be elected, whether municipal or state, they are elected by the whole city or by the whole state, and the majority of the voters, or a plurality, if there be more than two candidates, secures the election of its candidate. The French system of double election has never taken root either in England or America, and seems to be but ill adapted to the genius of our people. The only instance attempted is the one of the electoral college, which has proved abortive, and has become a mere simulacrum.
—The qualifications for a voter in the United States are, as a general rule, that he must be twenty-one years of age; if not born in this country he must have resided therein five years, within the state one year, and within the district about thirty days. Such as have come to this country during minority are admitted to the suffrage in a shorter period. The few qualifications that survive from colonial times, either of education or of property, have been and are being to a considerable extent gradually swept away. This, in theory, places the elective franchise in the United States, for all officers whose actions affect the commonwealth either as lawmakers or executors of the law, into the hands of all the male population above twenty-one years of age. Universal manhood suffrage has been the rule in this country.
—Even the selection of judges (who, in the history of the United States, were, down to 1846, as a general rule, appointed by the governor of the state, in order to secure more intelligent officers and more direct responsibility in such selection) has, by the growth of the democratic spirit, been taken out of the hands of the governor, and their elevation to the bench, except United States judges, given to the people, and their terms of service shortened from life tenure to a few years. Elective officers have been unduly multiplied, to such a degree that it becomes almost impossible for the voter busily occupied with the demands upon him of his business, to determine intelligently upon the merits of the numerous candidates presented for different offices by political organizations. This highly artificial system of arbitrary districts for purposes of political activity which wholly disregard the natural affiliations of the people arising from their vocations, their political convictions or their status in society, has resulted in giving to the political organization an abnormally strong power in determining the personnel of the government of the United States.
—In a very intelligent arraignment of existing political conditions in the United States, written by Mr. Charles C. P. Clark, in a work entitled. "The Commonwealth Reconstructed," the author says that the plan of direct popular election in large constituencies results in three frauds: first, that the elector knows whom he is voting for; second, that he comprehends what he is voting about; and third, that his vote will have its proper weight without preliminary consultation and arrangement with other voters; each of which assumptions, he says, in the vast majority of cases is absolutely false. The present actual fact is, that at the dictate of leaders whom we have not chosen, we vote for candidates whom we do not know, to discharge duties that we do not understand. And as the law pays no heed to natural political organization, and gives it no direct encouragement nor recognition, the consequence has been that the political organization has taken possession of the machinery of legislation and is substantially the only thing that is represented. Unless he is the member of a caucus, has a seat in the convention. or takes an active part in the nominating committee, the individual voter is a cipher in politics, and the only function he has to perform is to register his aye or nay as to the individuals who have been put forward by the political organizations.
—When this system was originally constituted, in a community of farmers, both the caucus and the conventions were voluntary forms of gathering the public will to make an intelligent choice of candidates. They were unrecognized, informal meetings of citizens to discuss public affairs and to select their neighbors for public office. In the early history of the United States public office was a burden which men accepted in consequence of the honor and dignity of the station, for which honor and dignity they were willing to sacrifice the more material advantages of private life. The division of employments, the growth of wealth. the great tide of emigration and consequent existence of a proletariat class, and the diversified interests and intensity of occupation which have been evoked by the modern industrial system. have made of the homogeneous community of a century ago one of the most diversified peoples in industrial employment and occupation, as well as disparity of means, that exist on the face of the earth. By the testimony of every close observer. it is a community of which the more intelligent elements are more intently occupied and have less hours of leisure than that which exists anywhere on the face of the earth. The consequence is, that the men who are most deeply interested in the welfare of society no longer have time to meet and discuss the political situation with their neighbors, and to talk over and determine which of their neighbors they desire to select for public office. The division of employments has created a politician class to attend to that business for them, as it has a class of lawyers and divines to expound the law and look after the spiritual welfare of the community. The caucus and the convention, therefore, have, from being the mere aids to political organization, grown in time to be the organization itself.
—The law which secures the political rights of the citizens is still the same that it was in the early history of the United States; indeed it has become more liberal in admitting a larger circle of human beings within the domain of political enfranchisement than in the early history of the United States. The power, however, has become so centralized in political organizations that a development has taken place in that function similar to that which has taken place in the railway interests by amalgamations and consolidations, so that, notwithstanding the rapid increase of population in the United States, fewer and fewer men, in both political organizations, determine who shall be elected by the people, precisely as, in railway transportation, fewer and fewer men determine, notwithstanding increased mileage, what rates shall prevail. The amount of time which must be given, and the money it requires successfully to establish a political machine, are both so great that, in the absence of a large leisure class in the United States which is emancipated from the necessity of daily toil by the inheritance of ancestral wealth, it has become practically impossible for the industrial and commercial classes in the community to give that time or money. In municipalities and in states the owners of property therein feel that there is a constant increase of the ratio of taxation without an equivalent in better service performed by the government for the individual in return for such taxation. The increase of municipal taxes has been within a generation upward of 200 per cent., and yet the tax payer prefers to submit to the exactions of the tax gatherer rather than to impose upon himself the greater immediate tax, which would be involved in the devotion of the necessary time and money to emancipate himself from the control of the political organization which he knows to be tyrannous and feels to be mischievous. Political patronage is the reward in the business of creating a political machine, and the politician finds in the control of the public office a return for the labor and money investment which he is compelled to make in establishing and perfecting his machine. As this system of political organization has grown, within the past thirty years, to gigantic proportions, it becomes a serious question whether the representative institutions of this country do not contain in themselves a fatal defect by reason of their not being adapted to the present organization of society in the United States. Independent political action is still possible where conditions prevail such as they did prevail in the early history of the United States, in such centres of population as may be termed strictly agricultural communities. In great cities, however, where the division of employment has been carried to its extreme development, representative institutions have become mere shams. The governments of those cities are in the hands of officers selected from the various political organizations which for the time being obtain control. The political organizations form a very small minority of the whole people, but the members thereof have devoted themselves to the building up of a political organization as a matter of business, as others of their fellow-citizens devote themselves to the business of banking. to manufacturing boots or shoes or hats. This situation becomes aggravated with increased population, and its mischief increased by the large criminal and pauper classes which exist in every densely populated centre. They are the camp followers of political organizations, precisely as they would have been the camp followers of a mediæval army for purposes of plunder only, and assume the name of the political organization, not because of any belief in principles, but because of their conviction that that particular organization will take care of them in the distribution of office.
—As the United States look forward with much confidence to the early attaining of a population of a hundred million of souls, it will readily be seen that some change must be made adapting representative government to the needs of a community wherein the division of employment will be still further developed with every increase of population, and wherein life is not likely, within any short period of time, to be less onerous and exacting in its demands upon the whole attention of the person who devotes himself to a particular vocation. It must be quite clear, therefore, that evils which have already made themselves apparent, arising from the inadaptiveness of the existing political organizations to the natural development of the community, must become intensified and intolerable if the cause which has produced them not only continues but is increased in activity, so that there must come a greater and wider divergence between the people who supply the taxes and those who have control of the governmental machinery to expend the taxes. These evils have been recognized by every thoughtful writer upon the more recent manifestations of American institutions. They have by some been regarded as an evil attending the influx of emigration; by such it is claimed that the community has taken in more of the foreign element than it can comfortably absorb, and that, therefore, there is a large voting constituency in every community in the United States not thoroughly trained on the American model as to the rights and duties of citizenship, and who are, therefore, a hindrance to good government. Others have supposed the evil to result from excluding one-half of the population—women—from the exercise of political suffrage, and have supposed that the cure of malrepresentation will lie in the direction of the adoption of woman suffrage. Others have recommended a return to smaller constituencies resembling some-what the old Saxon hundred, as units of political power, so as to give an instrumentality for interchange of opinion in artificial entities sufficiently small to allow of meeting and deliberation. Others, at the head of whom stands Mr. Clark, have proposed the remedy of primary representative electoral colleges for the purpose of selecting electors simply, who, in their turn, shall elect other electors, so as to produce a condition of graded representation, or, in other words, double or treble elections. Again, others have sought refuge from the existing evils by recommending limitation of the suffrage upon a property basis. Another class of thinkers have advocated the rigorous adoption of a high qualification for voters, of intelligence and even of actual learning. Another class of reformers have sought a refuge from existing evils by advocating the extension of the term of residence in the community as a condition of citizenship, so as to exclude the emigrant from all participation in the political affairs of the nation until he shall have been substantially a lifetime on American soil. This idea captured, a generation ago, a sufficient number of adherents to create a formidable party, which obtained a phenomenal success in several states. Another class of reformers have recommended the legalizing and methodizing by law of primary meetings, so as to give a legal status and recognition to the caucus and primary nominations, and thus to make frauds practiced in these bodies amenable to legal redress and subject to legal punishment. Others, and notably Robert von Mohl, have recommended the re-establishment, in modern form, of the representation of the guild, by giving to each organization of the community, be it a trade, profession or voluntary association of political opinion, and also to all large classes, such as agriculturists, manufacturers, merchants and the professions, special delegates to represent their special interests, and general delegates to be elected at large or appointed by the crown, such special delegates to be chosen by them, in certain proportions corresponding to the importance of such interests to the commonwealth. Lastly, there is a class of publicists and political economists who have suggested minority or totality representation as the means best adapted to redress the evils of the existing political conditions in relation to representative government. Thus they would, indirectly but naturally, introduce into the modern state something analogous to the guild or trade representation which existed in the mediæval communities, by recognizing as units of representation voluntary constituencies framed to represent electoral quotas. These units are to be substituted for existing arbitrary geographical divisions, and, by enfranchising the minority and giving each man his due proportion of political power in representation, reconstitute political organizations, acting as a solvent of existing machines, so that there shall no longer be majorities and minorities, but an entire reformation of political entities for purposes of representation.
—We shall now pass in review these several methods of reform of an undoubted existing evil, to see which will answer best the purpose to meet the exigencies of a modern democratic community.
—The objection to the foreign vote is one that increases in intensity as we descend in the scale of the dignity of the legislative or representative body, from the national to the municipal organization. The federal legislature has no distinctive foreign element in it, and the opinions of congress have been so little tinged with the emigration influences, that with the exception of a few demagogues who desire to curry favor with the Fenian element, by inveighing against the English government, there is no danger, which requires the enforcement of reformatory measures, of bad national legislation arising from the ignorance or prejudices of the naturalized voter. In state governments the foreign element makes itself more strongly felt. On questions affecting temperance legislation and excise laws. in matters relating to taxation and in labor legislation, the German and the Irish voters have exercised influences which may be deemed by some pernicious. On the relation of labor to capital, the employment of convicts in competition with the trades, in the regulation of the hours of labor, and in the authority given to municipalities to contract for labor, ideas have been transplanted from the trades-unionism of other countries upon our statute books directly traceable to foreign ideas. In municipal administration the evil of the foreign vote has been more strongly felt. It so happens that the foreign elements of large cities also comprise a very large proportion of the poorest inhabitants of the cities, and there is, therefore, not an unnatural association of ideas in coupling the foreign element with the lowest class of voters. As a city administration deals almost wholly with property interests, the application of universal suffrage to administrations of that character has resulted in throwing the power to levy taxes into the hands of the men who are the largest consumers of taxes and the smallest direct contributors to the city treasury. Consequently, the objection to what is called the foreign vote has been strongest felt and most strongly expressed in municipalities wherein it is coupled with the vote of the poor, who have so managed that in less than a generation the city debts of the United States have been trebled and their taxes doubled.
—The advocacy of female suffrage as a remedy for the evils of representation, arises from an entire misconception of the nature and character of the suffrage and of representation. It is treated by these advocates as an inborn right instead of a trust. They regard the refusal to allow an individual to vote, as a deprivation of something which is in the nature of his property, and the denial of representation, therefore, as an injustice. All institutions of government are practical establishments for the purpose of securing the well-being of society. To secure the well-being of society, it is necessary that the most intelligent and best instructed members of it should, in so far as regulation is necessary, regulate those affairs. If universal, including female, suffrage secures that end, then it is wholesome. If it fails to secure that end, it is mischievous. The difficulty with universal suffrage and majority representation is, that it enables the least instructed, who are the most numerous, to swamp and silence the better instructed, who are in every community the fewest. Doubling the number of voters by adding voters of precisely the same class, individual for individual, can not, by any possibility, remove that difficulty, but inevitably will have the tendency to strengthen it. Assuming, what is open to debate, that women are intellectually as strong as men, and assuming also, contrary to the fact, that they have as large an experience as men have in affairs with which legislation has to deal. the adding of all the women of the United States to the poll lists, is simply adding to the enormous numerical preponderance of the lower-class vote, intellectually considered, over the better-class vote, intellectually considered. The laborer's wife, sharing the laborer's household and the laborer's interests, will inevitably share his prejudices and his influences. She is also sure to be driven to the polls, or will voluntarily go there, under the pressure of some supposed personal benefit to be derived from the exercise of the vote, particularly in cities where large expenditures directly interest so large a proportion of the working classes. As a matter of fact for many years to come, were female suffrage introduced, the most refined women would, for stronger reasons than those which influence the men of the household and cause them to abstain from going to the polls, also induce the women to refrain from going to the polls, and compulsion would not be exercised upon them to overcome their disinclination. Therefore, as to this class of voters, the proportion of the lower-class votes would be even larger than it is among the men; and in a community which simply counts votes without weighing them, all the evils that arise from an absence of discrimination as to who casts the votes, will be very naturally intensified by the adoption of the suggestions of the female suffragists.
—The reform which seeks to make the nominating convention and the caucus amenable to the restraining influence of the criminal law, is one which is wholesome and necessary, so far as it goes. It is only not sufficiently far reaching successfully to cope with the deeper-seated ills of the body politic. It is not only the exclusive devotion to the business of politics which gives to the politician his great advantage over the average citizen, but also that he is willing to resort to trick, device and fraud for the purpose of perpetuating his power. Primary meetings, therefore, where each citizen is supposed to enact the initiative steps for the calling of a convention, and the appointing of representatives to a convention which shall express the party will, both as to platforms and as to individuals for office, have become mere hotbeds of fraud and intimidation. It is a melancholy truth, which is attested by the history of party organizations in every densely crowded centre of the United States, that the primaries are called simply to register foregone conclusions, and to delegate as the so-called representatives of certain districts, men who have been previously agreed upon by a junta of politicians. These politicians call the primaries and appoint inspectors of elections, and the few people who are not deterred from attendance by the disreputable character of the place where the primary is held, or by the character of those who are expected to do the work of the primary, may vote as they see fit; the counting is done by inspectors previously appointed, who will inevitably return the names that were given them to be returned, whether such names receive a majority or minority of the votes. To protect, therefore, these actions of citizens, or the supposed actions of citizens, exercising their capacity as freemen, to set in motion the necessary machinery to secure the selection of candidates, is a duty which is imposed upon the law, and which has been hitherto neglected by the ignoring of these meetings as necessary elements of constitutional government. If it is necessary to protect a citizen from having his name forged to a piece of paper jeoparding a hundred dollars of his property, it is as clearly the duty of the law maker to prevent falsification or forgery of his will in the expression of political opinion or preference when he has been invited to attend a meeting, and his opinion or preference is likely to produce tangible practical results. Already in the state of New York a law, with limited application, has been made to protect primaries in certain localities, in the same manner as the voter's preferences are protected at the polls, and this principle is likely to prevail until there is spread upon the statute books of all the states of the Union, and of the nation, laws protecting the citizen's exercise of rights in that regard.
—The ideas of Robert von Mohl, on re-establishing, in modern democratic society. the forms of representation which prevailed in the middle ages, in which interests and not persons were represented, are worthy of more regard and attention than has been given to them. The English parliament has grown up in so incongruous a fashion, that, down to a very recent period, when the rotten boroughs were disfranchised and some towns given a fair representation, Chief Justice Story's description was literally and exactly true. He says: "It might be urged that it is far from being secure, upon reason of experience, that uniformity in the composition of a representative body is either desirable or expedient, founded in sounder policy, or more promotive of the general good, than a mixed system embracing and representing and combining distinct interests, classes and opinions. In England the house of commons is a representative body founded upon no uniform principle either of numbers or classes or places. The representation is made up of persons chosen by electors having very different and sometimes very discordant qualifications. In some cases property is exclusively represented; in others, particular trades and pursuits; in others, inhabitancy and corporate privileges; in others, the reverse." (The universities have representatives.) "In some cases the representatives are chosen by very numerous voters; in others, by very few. In some cases a single patron possesses the single power of choosing representatives, as in nomination boroughs; in others, very populous cities have no right to choose, and have no representatives at all. In some cases a select body forming but a very small part of the inhabitants has the exclusive right of choice; in others, non-residents can control the whole election. In some places half a million of inhabitants possess the right to choose no more representatives than are assigned to the most insignificant borough with scarcely an inhabitant to point out its local limits. Yet this inequality has never, of itself, been deemed an exclusive evil in Great Britain. And in every system of reform which has found public favor in that country, many of these diversities have been embodied from choice, as important checks upon undue legislation, as facilitating the representation of different interests and different opinions, and as thus securing, by a well-balanced and intelligent representation of all the various classes of society, a permanent protection of the public liberties of the people, and a firm security of the private rights of persons and of property." (Story on the Constitution, sec. 585.) Now, what is done in this prescriptive and crude fashion by the gradual growth of the English constitution, and which is embodied in the house of commons, which not merely represents geographical districts, but represents all the various interests of society in Great Britain, Robert von Mohl proposes to do in a community in a systematic and logical form. Taking the classifications of society as they exist, as landowners, as agriculturists, as merchants, shippers and manufacturers, he would give to each class, representation in proportion, first, to their numerical strength, and secondly, to their importance to the state. To the religious organizations, to the political organizations, he would assign representation. To the association or organization of the manufacturer, as well as to the trades union of his employés, representation would be given according to his plan in certain qualitative proportions. He would have these organizations, like the guilds of the middle ages, depute their delegates to a central body. Speaking, as he does, in a community in which the crown was to his mind an integral part of the state, he would give to the crown the appointment of general delegates in a certain proportion to represent the commonwealth. Eliminating this royal intervention from his plan, as not a necessary part of it, general delegates might be elected by general ticket on the part of the whole community to sit with these delegates of the special trades combinations and industries of the community. Indeed, he himself is in doubt whether general delegates are at all necessary, because, he says, all these special delegates have an interest in the general public weal, but are to be considered as more truly representative, than geographical divisions constitute them, of the actual living interests of the whole community. He draws attention to the fact that whenever a trade or special organization places at its head its representative man by an election for president or director, it is generally the strongest man among them; and that in no community in which geographical subdivisions and majority votes are taken, is such a result brought about. He, therefore, would have these special interests recognized by law. When these deputed spokesmen are gathered together into a general assembly, in due proportions, they would together represent all the interests as they exist outside of the representative chamber, and thereby be, in point of fact, a reduced photograph of the whole community. The professions would be represented by their ablest men; the trades by their ablest men; and upon every question affecting any special interests, the highest technical skill would, within the representative body, be instantly available for information as to how proposed legislation will affect such interests.
—Those who have recommended reverting to the smaller constituencies, like the old Saxon hundred, so as to give opportunity for deliberation, and to place this deliberative community of a hundred under the protection of the law, so that its will as expressed in conventions or meetings shall not be fraudulently falsified, are working in the same direction with those who seek to legalize the nominating conventions. The adherents of this plan are yet too feeble in numbers, and their scheme is too remote from the practical habits of the people, to be thought of as a scheme likely to prove acceptable, and hence it can be dismissed for the present from this discussion.
—The double-election scheme has very much to commend it. Of this view Mr. Clark, whose work has already been cited, is the ablest exponent. He says, that the difficulty is, first, the actual and necessary ignorance of the great majority of voters, both as to whom they are voting for and what they are voting about; second, their utter inability to unite of and among themselves upon representative candidates for office and third political organizations, which started to help the people in this embarrassment have, by the logic of the situation, become their corrupt and corrupting masters. To remedy this, be proposes that in every town ward or other civil division that exceeds two thousand in population, the registered votes be divided by lot into five, nine, or any other number, of equal sections or squads. that they shall be drawn as jurors are drawn, and that each of these lists or squads shall constitute a primary electoral constituency; that the respective squads shall vote for a representation of electors for their own constituency; that these representative electors shall appoint the ward officers: that these electoral colleges of the ward shall again designate one or more electors to represent them and the people for whom they act in a higher rank of colleges for the appointment of mayors, county officers, members of the state legislature and the house of representatives. He thus calls out the voter; he compels the performance of the duty of voting on pain of disfranchisement, and compels the performance of services as elector by heavy penalties. The experience of France is strongly in favor of double voting. Mr. Taine, in his book "On the Suffrage," has expressed his preference for this form of election over that of any other, and supports it with cogent philosophical and logical reasoning. The failure of the electoral college is in itself no cogent reason against double elections, because it can easily be shown that it was so defectively organized as to take from it at the outset all character as a deliberative body.
—Those who favor a property qualification are mainly reformers of municipal organizations. The few qualifications in the way of ownership of property which existed under the constitutions of the various states of the Union as conditions for the vote for state officers, have gradually been swept away, and the question seems to be on subjects relating to state and national administration no longer open to debate. With reference to municipal administration, however, a different question is presented. Upon that point even Mr. Mill, than whom no stronger advocate for the extension of the suffrage and for the liberty of the people existed, says, on page 176 of his "Considerations on Representative Government," that, "it is important that the assembly which votes the taxes, either general or local, should be elected exclusively by those who pay something toward the tax imposed. Those who pay no taxes, disposing by their votes of other people's money, have every motive to be lavish and none to economize. As far as money matters are concerned, any power of voting possessed by them is a violation of the fundamental principle of free government, a severance of the power of control from the interest in its beneficial exercise. It amounts to allowing them to put their hands into other people's pockets for any purpose which they think fit to call a public one. which in great towns of the United States is known to have produced a scale of local taxation onerous beyond example, and wholly borne by the wealthier classes. That representation should be coextensive with taxation, not stopping short of it, but also not going beyond it, is in accordance with the theory of British institutions." It is generally forgotten that municipal administration is but to a very limited degree a governmental, and to a very large extent the mere co-operative management of property; that the suffrage is a sword as well as a shield, and that the power which enables the holder of the suffrage to protect himself from the aggressions of others is likewise a power by which he may aggress upon the rights of others, the two being inseparable; that, therefore, giving, under the forms of universal suffrage, the vast mass of people in a densely populated city the power to place mortgages upon the properties of its wealthier class, the proceeds of which are to be expended for the personal enjoyment of the masses who have not saved property, is, under the guise of law, to organize communism and confiscation. So jealous, however, are the American people of the right of universal suffrage in all matters relating to government, that they will not make the distinction which in the nature of things is proper to be made, by withdrawing in part, at least, municipal administration from the widest application of universal suffrage, lest, by such a precedent, danger may creep in and the people gradually become accustomed to the withdrawal of political power, in matters in which all have a like interest, to wit, their state and national administrations.
—Those who found their hope of reform upon the limitation of the suffrage arising from the application of a standard of qualifications of an intellectual or an educational character, are fighting against the tendencies of the times, and are but little likely to prevail. They also can base their well-grounded objections to counting instead of weighing votes upon the authority of Mr. Mill, who, in the work already cited, says: "In all human affairs every person directly interested, and not under positive tutelage, has an admitted claim to a voice, and, when his exercise of it is not inconsistent with the safety of the whole, can not justly be excluded from it. But (though every one ought to have a voice) that every one should have an equal voice is a totally different proposition. When two persons who have a joint interest in any business differ in opinion, does justice require that both opinions shall be held of exactly equal value? The opinion, the judgment of the higher moral or intellectual being is worth more than that of the inferior, and if the institutions of the country virtually assert that they are of the same value, they assert the thing which is not." He therefore says, that "two or more votes might be allowed to every person who exercises any superior function. The liberal professions imply a still higher degree of instruction, and whenever a sufficient examination or any serious conditions of education are required before entering upon a profession, its members could be admitted at once to a plurality of votes. The same rule might be applied to graduates of universities. All these suggestions," he says, "are open to discussion as to details, but," he concludes, "it is to me evident that in this direction lies the true ideal of representative government, and that to work toward it by the best practical contrivances which can be found, is the path of real political improvement." The extent to which he would carry this plurality of votes he does not commit himself to, but insists that it should not be carried to any point which would enable a few to outnumber the great mass of the community, but that it shall be carried far enough to prevent the more intelligent from being overs laughed at the polls by the less instructed.
—We now come to treat of the most radical, while at the same time the most natural, reform of the evils of representative government—that which is known as totality or minority representation. When a single person is to appoint an agent, there is no difficulty except as to a wise selection. When two people are to appoint an agent, there may be divergence of opinion as to the agent to be appointed, and except by agreement there is no possibility to make an appointment. When three people are to appoint an agent, if there is but one agent to be appointed, then must necessarily be given to the majority of the three the right to appoint. It is true that the minority might as well have no voice at all after the agent is appointed against his wishes, because his views are not likely to prevail with the agent. If a hundred men are to appoint a single agent, again must be given to the majority of fifty-one or more the right to appoint that agent, as the only practical solution for the difficulty of the situation. But if the hundred men have five agents to appoint, to give to fifty-one the power to appoint all five, and to leave the forty-nine wholly and completely unrepresented in the agency, is an injustice which is gratuitous, and not in the least justified by the necessity of the situation. It is just as easy to take the vote of the constituency of a hundred upon a plan which shall secure to each quota, of twenty men each, the right to a representative, as to take the vote upon the existing plan of majorities and minorities. The result, however, in one case is to make the representation of five, when elected by squads of twenty each, an actual reduced photograph of the wishes and will of the hundred as far as practically ascertainable, and in the other case the representation will merely represent the wishes and will of the majority, and probably, from the excitement of the election in which the minority were beaten, oppose the views of such minority with vehemence and bitterness. Therefore the minority are not only not represented, but are frequently maliciously pursued by the representatives of their constituency for their effort to defeat the representatives; and as their constant agitation to become the majority endangers the representatives' seats, they will attempt in every way to thwart the minority of their own constituency. A perpetual antagonism is, therefore, created in constituencies, and between constituencies and their representatives, which ought not in the nature of things to exist, and for which there is no necessity. Dividing the number of voters by the number of representatives to be elected, and giving to the quotient an absolute right to return one member, is it is true, a great revolution in modern political practice, but is, nevertheless, absolutely the only means by which some of the most flagrant evils incident to representative institutions can be cured.
—Whoever may be entitled to the merit of first devising this great improvement in the machinery of representative institutions, whether it be Earl Gray, Mr. Craig of England, or Mr. Fisher of Pennsylvania, its ablest and foremost exponent, who has devoted a lifetime to its explanation and exposition, is Mr. Thomas Hare, of England. The draft of a new law of parliamentary representation contained in his work, "On Representation," is commented on by John Stuart Mill as having "the unparalleled merit of carrying out a great principle of government in a manner approaching to ideal perfection as regards the special object in view, while it attains incidentally several other ends of scarcely inferior importance" His plan is, through the instrumentality of the voter's own choice as expressed upon an election ticket, to secure the transfer of his votes, whenever the voter's first choice has already been elected, or in the event of the voter's first choice not securing enough votes for an election; so that no votes are wasted. In a constituency which is to return say, eight members of congress, the voters declare, in the order in which they prefer to be represented, their preference for eight or as many more persons as they see fit to put upon their tickets. When the election officers come to count the votes, they will find a certain number of persons as first choices, whose election is secured by obtaining the requisite quota—the quota to be ascertained by dividing the number of seats to be filled, plus one, by the number of votes cast at the election. The object of making the divisor larger by one than the actual number of seats to be filled, is to diminish the chances of an equal number of votes or ties, and to increase the chances of filling seats without resorting to approximate or transferred quotas. The votes are thereupon transferred to the other choices in the manner designated by Mr. Hare. To this plan it is not necessary further to advert in this article.
—A still greater simplification to secure minority representation is to allow voters to vote but for single names in large districts, and to give to the representative in the representative body one vote for every hundred or thousand or ten thousand votes cast for him. To prevent the representative body from being too large an organization, a minimum must be established, that no one shall be considered elected who has not received 5,000 votes. To prevent too small a body, a maximum must be fixed beyond which a representative's additional votes shall not give him additional votes in the house. If 5,000 votes is the minimum, the representative might be regarded as having one vote for the first 5,000, and an additional vote for every 5,000 that have been cast in addition for him. This would enable communities to select popular men in whom they have confidence, and give to them a plurality of votes, and yet prevent the minority from being excluded from the representative chamber. Many other plans have been suggested by other writers. The list plan of Geneva, elaborated mainly by Ernst Naville; the minority representation plan of Mr. Andrac; the plans of Messrs. Droop, Bailey and Dobbs, and the cumulative plan, all seek to attain the same object in different ways, and each has its special merit and defects; but the great object to be attained by minority representation is the breaking up of the existing political machinery, the tyranny and the power of which exists simply because machinery of some kind is a necessity to organize a majority in the district, by making bargains and dickers and arrangements to capture votes here and votes there, so as to secure representation. To be in the minority is to be disfranchised. With minority representation all this elaborate machinery becomes needless. Citizens will be represented in proportion to their numerical strength, through the instrumentality of the very slightest organization, and they are encouraged to organize, as the task set before them is not an almost hopeless one, as it is made under existing conditions to the non-political class, whereby it is compelled to put forth a powerful effort, which may result in no success at all, which is extremely costly in time and money, and which is wholly lost unless a majority of all the votes is secured. Giving political power in proportion to the effort put forth, is one of the first beneficial results arising from minority representation.
—The second advantageous result arising from this system of election, is the facility it will afford to the intellectual part of the community to secure a representation in town councils, legislative chambers and the halls of congress, which is now absolutely denied to them. Every form of public opinion, as it grows in strength, would have its strength actually measured and its growth watched by the increase of representatives, and the representatives would, under those circumstances, always be the strongest and ablest men holding such opinions. Had such a system, by any fortunate accident, existed prior to the civil war, the south would have discovered the growth of the anti-slavery sentiment in the north before it was overwhelmed by it, and even a hopeless minority in the south who were opposed to slavery, and the minority in the south who were in favor of the Union at all hazards, would have had their representatives in Congress, and the controversy on slavery would have been less sectional than, under a false system of taking votes, it was made to appear to be. Free traders would have their representatives in congress; the antimonopolist's voice would be heard long before it became that of a majority, and parties would again become standard bearers of principle, instead of, as now, mere followers of political principles, in the expectation of catching votes—a demoralized condition, created by the false importance in a majority system of the floating vote, which induces parties quite as often to deny their own cherished political principles from the fear of losing votes by the advocacy of what for the time the leaders suppose to be obnoxious to the popular will, just as they frequently insincerely adopt political principles in the expectation of catching small sections of voters. "Nothing but habit and old associations," says Mr. Mill, "can reconcile any reasonable being to the needless injustice of this mere majority representation. In a really equal democracy every order in the section would be represented, not disproportionately but proportionately. A majority of the electors would always have a majority of the representatives, but a minority of the electors would always have a minority of the representatives. Unless this be so, there is no equal government, but a government of inequality and privilege. One part of the people rule over the rest. There is a part whose fair and equal share of influence in representation is withheld from them, contrary to all just government, but above all, contrary to the principle of democracy, which professes equality as its very root and foundation." Incidentally be it mentioned that this plan would secure to a capable man a career in political life as secure as in any profession. as he would not be dependent on the accidental majority of his district, but could always rely upon obtaining a quota vote.
—The cowardice of modern political parties is best indicated by the fact that no party in the United States dares, in modern days, ever present its strongest man for the presidency, because, having been long in the public eye, he is sure to have offended a great number of voters whose adhesion is necessary to make a majority. Availability, therefore, takes the place of true ability. The adoption of minority representation also solves, in advance, all the objections to the extension of the suffrage, and would secure to the tax payer by combination, what it is impossible for him to secure now in relation to municipal administration—a strong contingent of representatives of the tax payer in the city councils, to act as a check and brake on extravagant expenditures. If the scheme of minority representation is extended, by making large districts and numerous representatives from such districts, it would also give within party lines such independent action as to create a balance-of-power party within the party, and would thus forever destroy the supremacy of halls and juntas, who hold their power simply because the alternative presented to the voter is to accept their candidate or the candidate of a hall or organization equally bad but belonging to the opposing political organization.
—To the objection that may be urged, that minority representation would secure to the sinister elements of a community a representation if they saw fit to combine, the answer is, that it is better that the representative of the sinister elements should be known as such, than that a private arrangement be made with the sinister elements of a community by which they secure surreptitiously and secretly several representatives on condition of their support, and thus obtain by bargain a very much larger share than they could obtain by right.
—The one formidable objection to the whole scheme of minority representation, and which is really the price that the community must pay for the total representation of the community, is, that it has a tendency to prevent the spirit of compromise and mutual forbearance, which party has a tendency to create. The community would possibly split up into too many segments. Opportunity of representation being afforded to small quotas, the Catholic, the Jew, the infidel, might secure separate representation, and thus intensify religious feeling. Workingmen and capitalists might secure separate representation; and thus the same reason which would make minority representation act as a solvent of political parties, might result in its acting as a solvent on constituencies which ought to be held together in the bands of party, thereby cultivating mutual good will, which probably would not exist were their parts to be exclusively committed to their own class for political action. The only answer to this position is the universal experience of mankind, that the instant men are clothed with the responsibility of government, acerbity is lessened, and the intolerance which characterizes them as sectaries or partisans without political power is diminished. To give to minorities, therefore, who now have no chance of representation, an opportunity to have their voices heard, coupled with the responsibility that their recommendations must be put in practicable shape for legislation, and that the responsibility of such legislation rests upon their shoulders if adopted by the majority, has in itself a very sobering influence on all violent and extreme opinions, and subjects them to the severest tests to which opinions can be subjected, that of discussion with well-trained adverse opinions, and that of practicability to frame statutes to enforce such opinions.
—Admitting Catholics and Jews to parliament was opposed, on the ground that, in the one case, a superior allegiance was considered due from the Catholic to the pope, and in the other case, that the Jew regarded every country in which he lived as but a mere resting place, that his true home was in Palestine, and that these convictions made both sects unpatriotic. Their admission, however, has proved how utterly groundless was this objection; that there are no more patriotic members of parliament than the Catholics and the Jews, is now past controversy. Indeed, in all matters of legislation the religious conviction scarcely ever comes to the surface, except where it is necessary for the purpose of preventing some act of intolerance to formulate itself into law.
—In boards of direction of corporations the adoption of a minority scheme of representation would be the most absolute security to insure continuity of direction and purpose in a less objectionable form than the adoption of a classification scheme, by which only a few of the directors go out each year, and would also prevent the possibility of a capture of a corporation through the instrumentality of proxies representing fictitious holdings, borrowings of stock, etc., by which great corporations have been depleted and the interests of the stockholders wholly disregarded. Even if the majority of the board of direction would truly represent the majority of the stockholding interest, a watchful and alert minority would prevent the diverting of the property and management of the road to sinister purposes, and be a check more efficacious than are courts or laws to prevent corporate mismanagement.
—Finally, we must recognize, with reference to governmental machinery, that it, like all machinery devised by men, must be progressively improved to adapt it to the varying needs of society. The devices to prevent tyranny and oppression which answered the purposes of the people against the kingly power of a John, a Charles or a George are as little adapted to modern society as is the crude machinery of those periods to the necessities of man in civilized life at the present day. For the satisfaction of all physical wants immense progress has been made in every direction. The art of government, however, has not been so progressive. The safe maker has kept pace with, and is a little in advance of, the skill of the burglar. The art of government has not kept pace with the skill, and ingenuity of those who require its restraining influences. The oppression which in former periods exhibited itself on the banks of the Rhine, by a robber baron sweeping down upon a rich neighboring community and depleting it of its movable property, or by his kin in spirit, locking up in his dungeon keep some rich Jew, and drawing his teeth until he disgorged his wealth, now manifests itself in corporate management in stock waterings, and in confiscation under the guise of taxation, in river and harbor bills, in protective tariffs, and thousands of other forms which are tyranny and exaction disguised under specious names to hide their nature, and clothed with the machinery of government itself to make the imposture complete. To destroy these malignant abuses of governmental machinery, effort must be made to give the government back to the people, freed from the organization which assumes to act for the people, but which misrepresents and abuses them. There is, therefore, no art or science to which the human intellect can devote itself of a more practical and immediately beneficial nature than reforms in representation, which lie at the bottom and root of modern government, so as to make representative bodies the true exponents of popular interests instead of fraudulent representatives of the popular will. "Representation should effect for the nation," says Mirabeau, "what a chart does for the physical configuration of the soil—producing not only a reduced picture of the whole of the people, but also representing their classes, their aspirations, wishes and opinions." The body of representatives should produce on the mind of the student of a nation's social constituencies an effect similar to that produced on its territory, in representing its mountains and dales, its rivers and lakes, forests and plains, cities and towns. The finer should not be crushed out by the more massive substances, and the latter not be excluded. The proportions are organic, the scale is national.
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