bicameral model was also followed by the state constitu-
tions and, unfortunately, by many city charters where it
served merely to weaken responsibility. A national com-
promise was reached between the large and small states in
determining upon the constitution of these two houses.
The membership in the House of Representatives was to
be apportioned among the states according to population,
but in the Senate each state was to have two senators
irrespective of its size or population.
The Constitution, unlike the Articles of Confederation,
provided for a president as the chief executive. It was his
duty to see that the laws of Congress were en-
forced. He possessed a veto, but Congress could
pass a law over this veto by a two-thirds majority. Simi-
larly, the state constitutions provided for an executive in
the form of a governor. Colonial experience with pro-
vincial governors made the early fathers very jealous of
the powers of the executive. Early state constitutions,
The Organization of Political Machinery 77
therefore, granted very limited powers to the governors.
The faith placed in the legislature weakened as time went
on and, on the other hand, the powers of the executive
gradually gained in both state and nation. The earlier
method of electing a president was soon changed by con-
stitutional amendment. Instead of the second highest
candidate becoming vice-president, the development of
political parties made it advisable for a distinct presidential
and a distinct vice-presidential candidate to run on each
ticket. The framers of the Constitution devised a system
of electoral colleges to prevent the direct election of a
president by the people. To-day the work of the presiden-
tial electors is purely formal, but under this system it is
possible for a candidate to have a plurality of the electoral
vote without having a majority of the popular vote.
The Constitution of the United States further provided
that the judicial power should be vested in one Supreme
Court and in as many inferior courts as Con-
gress shall from time to time ordain and estab-
lish. The members are appointed for life by the president
upon the approval of the Senate. The function of the
judiciary is to interpret the laws by means of what we call
test cases. We have seen how the Supreme Court passes
upon the constitutionality of a law. There is a similar state
judiciary in each of the commonwealths to perform similar
functions for the state.
The legislative, executive, and judicial functions of gov-
ernment were placed in three supposedly distinct depart-
ments. This separation of powers was to be checks and
reenforced by a system of checks and balances. balances -
The aim was to prevent one branch of the government from
encroaching upon another, and becoming so powerful as to
78 Problems of American Democracy
threaten individual liberty and the preservation of demo-
cratic institutions. For example, although the president
had a veto upon the laws of Congress, that body had the
right to impeach him. By their appointing power the
president and the Senate could control the personnel of the
Supreme Court, but the latter had the power of passing
upon the constitutionality of the laws made by Congress.
Hence the separation of powers between the three funda-
mental departments has not been so great as has been fre-
quently claimed. By the device of checks and balances it
was hoped that the mistaken policies, or undemocratic
tendencies, of one department could be curbed by the
other two departments. It has, however, just as frequently
tended to confuse responsibility and to make for political
dead-locks. Out of this situation has grown the political
party, which has assumed the responsibility for enacting
legislation. The English system has no such separation of
powers and the cabinet combines both the executive and
the legislative functions. The courts are merely divisions
of the executive department, for we have seen that there is
no question regarding the constitutionality of an act of
Parliament. A recent writer upon American government
would substitute for the former three-fold division of gov-
ernmental functions a two-fold division. This plan would
differentiate only between the political and the adminis-
trative functions of government. The political function is
that of making the laws and should be exercised through
the elected, representative spokesmen of public opinion.
The administrative functions imply the carrying out of
these laws in the most efficient manner and should be exer-
cised by a group of expert officials chosen largely by some
form of Civil Service examinations.
The Organization of Political Machinery 79
The American cabinet is a very different institution from
the British cabinet. The American cabinet-members are
administrative officers, the heads of their de- _
partments, and the advisors of the president, son with
The British cabinet-members may be in charge cabinet
of administrative departments, but they are also
members of Parliament possessing legislative as well as
executive functions. The prime minister and his cabinet
are known as "the government" and they outline the
national political policy. The ministry continues in
power so long as it can command a majority vote in Parlia-
ment. If defeated upon an important issue, the cabinet
resigns. A new prime minister forms a new cabinet from
the party in power in Parliament. If the defeated ministry,
however, feels that Parliament does not represent correctly
the public opinion of the nation, it may appeal to the
country for a new election. Thus, a parliamentary election
may be held at any time upon an important issue, and
cabinet ministries are short or long-lived according to the
degree in which they reflect the national public opinion.
In America presidential elections are held regularly every
four years and congressional elections every two years. It
has been objected that our method is less apt to secure an
immediate expression of public opinion upon a definite
political issue. The English parliamentary system is the
result of a long political evolution, representing a succession
of social adjustments. It has become the model for the
British self-governing colonies and has also influenced the
constitutional development of continental Europe. Some
Latin American republics have followed the model of the
American system, while other have attempted to combine
some features of both systems.
80 Problems of American Democracy
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
i. What do you understand by the unwritten constitution of
2. What are its advantages and disadvantages as compared with
the written constitution of the United States?
3. In what way may the constitution of the United States be
4. Give illustrations of federal and centralized governments.
5. Name some of the functions and problems of the national
6. Do the same for the state government.
7. Show the concentration of power that has gradually taken
8. Explain and illustrate the system of checks and balances.
9. How has it worked out in practice?
10. Trace and criticize our method of electing a president.
11. It has been said that the courts help to make the law in
12. Differentiate between the political and administrative func-
tions of government.
13. Do you regard this distinction as superior to the older three-
fold division of governmental functions? Why or why not?
14. Compare the English cabinet with our own.
15. What would an Englishman understand by a " change of
government." Show how it operates.
16. In what way is the British Government superior and in what
ways inferior to our own?
17. In what ways is the British system more democratic and in
what ways is it less democratic than our own?
18. Are all republics necessarily democracies? Why or why not?
TOPICS FOR SPECIAL REPORT
1. The Constitutions and social progress.
2. The separation of powers in theory and practice.
3. A comparison of Congressional and Parliamentary forms of
4. Constitutional guarantees of liberty.
The Organization of Political Machinery 81
5. The evolution of the English cabinet, â€” a study in adjustment.
6. Imitation of the American Constitution.
Beard, C. A. American Government and Politics.
Bryce, J. The American Commonwealth.
Bryce, J. Modem Democracies.
Goodnow, F. J. Politics and Administration.
Magruder, F. A. American Government in IQ21.
Ogg, F. A. Governments of Europe.
Wilson, W. The State. Congressional Government.
Young, J. T. The New American Government and Its Work.
The Political Machinery in Motion
I. Functions of government
i . Their evolution and adjustment
2. Older attitude
3. The transition
4. The social ideal
II. Duties of citizenship
1. Military service
3. Civic responsibilities
III. Government at work
1 . Public opinion
2. Political parties
3. The legislative process :
a. Organization of the legislature
b. Course of a bill
c. Appropriation bills
Functions of Government. â€” A study of the organi-
zation of the political machinery is of little value un-
. less it helps to explain the functioning of the
and ad- government. Organized government exists to do
justment. . .
things for a cooperative society. I he more co-
operative the society, the more complex is the governmental
machinery. In forms of government, as in forms of life,
there is an evolution from the simple to the complex. The
functions of government have been constantly increasing
The Political Machinery in Motion 83
as the State has grown from a wandering tribe of shepherds
to a great industrial nation. The recognized functions of
the State are constantly changing and present a continuous
problem of adjustment. Burning heretics was a legitimate
function of the State in the Middle Ages, but modern times
have brought not only religious liberty but also the separa-
tion of Church and State. Each generation must ask itself
again the question: What are the legitimate functions of
the State? Although the names are frequently confused,
the anarchist and the socialist have very different answers
to this question. The anarchist is dangerous to society be-
cause he does not admit the fundamental functions and
powers of the State. He would destroy the political organ-
ization of society. The socialist, on the other hand, would
extend the functions of the State to include the ownership
and operation of the means of production. Between these
two opposite poles are many different shades of opinion as
to the legitimate functions of the State.
The police power of the State, which is fundamental, is
the starting point of its functions. Society is organized
politically for the purpose of protection against The older
internal disorder and against foreign invasion. attitude -
Additional responsibilities the State was at first loath to
assume. This was the attitude of writers a century ago.
Adam Smith published his Wealth of Nations in 1776,
which thereby became an important date in economic as
well as in political history. He protested against the gov-
ernmental regulations advocated by the older group of
economists known as the Mercantilists. For illustration,
he favored free trade and asserted that, without govern-
mental interference in industry, society is guided by an
"invisible hand" toward its own best interests. The "in-
84 Problems of American Democracy
visible hand" is self-interest and free competition. This
attitude has been called that of laissez faire or "let alone."
To this school belonged the great sociologist, Herbert
Spencer, who believed that natural selection should be
given freer play in organized society. He had great con-
tempt for social reforms through legislation, asserting that
Parliament passed laws only to repeal them later.
However, after a century of experiment, laissez faire or
individualism has been tried in the balance and found
The transi- wanting. The world is now in a period of transi-
tion toward another stage of development which
we may call that of social welfare. Under the laissez faire
or "let alone" system of politics the women of England
toiled under an industrial day of twelve and fourteen hours,
while "the bitter cry of the children" made government
regulation imperative. In our own day groups of indi-
viduals have monopolized and exploited for their personal
gain the free gifts of nature so that the voice of the socialist
and the single-taxer is heard throughout the land. Anti-
trust laws, interstate commerce acts, and industrial and
price-fixing regulations begin to give us the shock of dawn-
ing paternalism. Regulation has become necessary be-
cause the life of mankind is a group life; no man is a law
unto himself. It is right for men to exercise the rights of
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness only when such
action does not interfere with the corresponding rights of
others. Thus, intemperance is no longer a matter of in-
dividual concern but of social regulation, because the fami-
lies of such unfortunates are not only deprived of their rights
to life and the pursuit of happiness but also because they
become an additional charge on the public expense. Again,
the tipsy engineer holds the lives of hundreds of others in
The Political Machinery in Motion 85
the balance. The frontiersman of yesterday slaughtered
his own cattle and baked his own bread, but to-day, the
city consumer serves upon his table articles of food pre-
pared in many distant places, by many different hands.
Hence pure food laws become necessary to social welfare.
Society has found it necessary to protect itself against the
extreme individualist whether he be monopolist, drunkard,
or food adulterator.
Democracy and liberty for all are not assured until every
individual in society has done his duty toward other mem-
bers of the group. The individual and the State The social
are reciprocal. Each exists for the benefit of ldea1,
the other, and their interests must harmonize if social wel-
fare is to be attained. The modern idea of cooperation is
the antithesis of laissez /aire and of medieval isolation.
This ideal of social welfare has been called the twentieth
century spirit of Christianity, for it teaches that, in a sense,
each man is his brother's keeper. Voluntary cooperation
is the highest form of social control in a democracy. The
extreme Prussian concept of the State, on the other hand,
was that the individual existed for the State, and not the
State for the individual. It enforced cooperation and
finally, like the fiery Moloch, demanded its bloody sacrifice.
Some writers claim, however, that the state socialism of
Germany improved conditions among the laboring classes.
An efficient bureaucracy carried the elaborate state func-
tions into the lives of the individual citizens to an extent
unknown in Great Britain or America. The Anglo-Saxon
would have regarded such paternalism at best as "benevo-
Duties of Citizenship. â€” Since the State and the in-
dividual exist for the benefit of each other, their obligations
86 Problems of American Democracy
are mutual. When a State can no longer protect its citi-
zens it ceases to exist. When the German tribes began
Military to roam at will through the Roman Empire,
the days of Rome were numbered. Feudalism
succeeded the "pax Romana", which had given protection
for centuries to the civilized world. In the same manner,
American citizenship should carry protection to our citi-
zens traveling in all parts of the world. Such security has
its price, and the citizen therefore owes allegiance to the
State. In a great national crisis this takes the form of
military service. In the olden days of feudalism the
mutual obligations of lord and vassal were real and per-
sonal as shown in the stirring lines of Sir Walter Scott:
"When flies the cross from man to man,
Vich-Alpin's summons to his clan,
Burst be the ear that fails to heed,
Palsied the knee that fails to speed."
In the recent World War the national government sent
a similar summons to the manhood of America. On a
given day, ten million men registered for military ser-
vice before the various draft boards throughout the
Less romantic is the duty of the citizen to pay taxes. In
earlier times these obligations took the form of personal
services. Thus, the vassal fought for his lord
Taxation. ' . Â°
and the serf worked in his field. Gradually these
services took the form of money payments. Scutage, for
illustration, was a shield tax in lieu of military service.
With the great recent growth in governmental functions
there has been a similar growth in taxation. The wars of
civilization are far more destructive and costly than those
of more primitive peoples. At the present time, therefore,
The Political Machinery in Motion 87
about nine-tenths of our taxes go to pay the expenses of
wars, past, present, and future.
Finally it is the duty of every citizen to take an active
and intelligent interest in his government, national, state
and local. There are many "slacker" voters _. .
J Civic re-
who do not go to the polls. Instead, they merely sponsibiii-
criticize destructively, from easy chairs at home,
the men and parties in power. There is need for the citizen
in action, in peace as well as in war. Government is a
human product and no better or worse than the men and
women who compose it. Democracy may be inefficient and
at tirnes corrupt, but the only cure for the ills of democracy
is more democracy. The Greeks had an exalted sense of
civic responsibility toward their city states. The Roman
had a noble patriotism and political genius in dealing with
the problems of empire. The Anglo-Saxon, however,
added the development of representative institutions
which the democracies of antiquity never evolved. Rep-
resentative government can only succeed with an active
and informed citizenship working incessantly for the good
of the State.
Government at Work. â€” Public opinion is a form of
social control which finally expresses itself in law. Law is
more static, however, than public opinion. p u bii c
Many laws upon our statute books do not repre- Â°P imon -
sent the social mind of to-day, but rather the public opin-
ion of a generation ago. Again, every fluctuating change
in public opinion does not crystallize into law. Public
opinion, however, is a relatively permanent expression of
the group mind, as compared with its reflection in crowd
psychology. Folkways and the customs of the group in-
fluence the character of public opinion. The degree of
88 Problems of A merican Democracy
popular intelligence and education is important, for with-
out them there cannot be a real public opinion. This re-
quires that each individual should think for himself without
being unduly swayed by the influence of suggestion. Such
is the aim of education in a democracy. It is vicious for a
nation to use its educational system to mould future pub-
lic opinion in any one pattern. Germany possessed an
excellent educational machine but deliberately used it
for the manufacture of a certain type of "Kultur." The
final result was to prevent the growth of a public
opinion which might have checked the unfortunate policy
of that nation. Newspapers have a very important effect
upon the development of public opinion in America. Un-
fortunately these are frequently biased, or at least reflect
but one point of view. Many American families read but
one paper and buy ready-made opinion upon matters of
the day. There are thousands of private associations
existing for the purpose of moulding public opinion upon
various matters. Campaigns of publicity, similar to those
of advertising, seek to incline public opinion toward such
matters as the open shop or a higher tariff. A Single Tax
League may work strenuously in another direction. Lob-
bies are organized efforts, not merely to color public opinion
in general, but to influence legislators to act favorably upon
Political parties are institutions for getting the public
opinion of the majority written into law. Their rapid
Political development; was not foreseen by the fathers who
parties. framed the constitution. Like England, but un-
like the continent of Europe, America has had a two-party
system. European cabinets are coalition cabinets, that is,
they are made up of ministers of various parties. An
The Political Machinery in Motion 89
English cabinet, however, is usually made up solidly of
ministers from the one party in power. It is known as
"the government," and the other party as "the opposi-
tion." There are several minor parties in America, but
the bulk of the nation is divided into Democrats and Re-
publicans. As early as Washington's administration a
party in opposition to the government arose in the Anti-
Federalists. Under the name of the Democratic-Republi-
cans they triumphed under Jefferson. The Jeffersonian
democracy evolved into that of Jackson's administration.
With "Tippecanoe and Tyler too," the Whigs had a short-
lived success which broke the steady succession of demo-
cratic presidents. The great issues of slavery and the
preservation of the union loomed up on the horizon of the
Civil War, and the modern Republican party emerged
under the leadership of Abraham Lincoln. Since that time
economic quesions, such as the tariff and the currency,
have occupied the great political arena. Each presidential
election is a campaign of popular education for the voter.
Party platforms are drawn up, which contain the articles
of faith of each group upon the questions of the day. Each
party points with pride to its own achievements and views
with alarm the tendencies of its opponents. Political par-
ties are good in so far as they stimulate and crystallize
public opinion. They are bad in so far as they develop a
machine organization to which the voter owes absolute
allegiance and to which he sacrifices his political inde-
pendence. Frequently the question is not one of public
policy, but one of men and patronage, that is, control over
the public offices. The extension of the national party
lines to local matters is unfortunate, because the issues
frequently have nothing in common.
Problems of American Democracy
The Political Machinery in Motion 91
Party lines are rather strictly drawn in the legislative
assemblies. When an important matter comes up for
action a party caucus may be held. The major-
â€¢ * â– The lGSfisâ€”
ity party, sitting alone and unofficially, may lative
thus determine the fate of a bill. When this bill P rocess:
later comes up officially in the regular session Â°f the
of the legislature, the majority party formally
votes for or against it as previously determined in the
caucus. The voice of the people theoretically expresses
itself through their elected representatives. In voting yea
or nay on a proposed bill the legislator is expected to ex-
press the desires of his constituents. His voting record is
generally made public in reelection campaigns. The legis-
lative process by which bills become laws is important to
the student of social problems. The method of procedure
of the national Congress is fairly typical of that followed
by the individual states. The committee organization is a
fundamental principle of our legislative policy. There are
various committees in both houses, such as the committee
on rules and that on the eligibility of members. Among
the most important committees is the Committee on Fin-
ance in the Senate and the Ways and Means Committee
in the House of Representatives, where bills for raising
revenue must originate. The vice-president of the United
States presides over the Senate, but the speaker of the
House of Representatives is elected by the members. This
model has been followed in many of the commonwealths.
The speaker of the House of Representatives was formerly
a more important figure than he is to-day, because he has
largely lost his power of appointing committees. Both the
two great parties have their floor leaders, who are im-
portant persons in the legislative assemblies. They at-
92 Problems of American Democracy
tempt to control the parliamentary maneuvers of their
respective party members.
Every legislative session is flooded with bills, many of
which never get beyond the "pickling" committees. Suc-
Courseof cessful bills are generally those of the adminis-