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The Solid South Not Really Conservative
termined opposition. Woman suffrage aspects of the party in the South which was vigorously, sometimes viciously, fought.
seem conservative are merely the fruit The Democratic party throughout of the one thing by which so many asthe South has been more conservative, eco
pects of the Democratic party in the nomically, than elsewhere.
South are determined, namely, the exisTurning to the West, Mr. Milton tence of the Negro question. describes that section of the party thus: The Southern Democratic party, when
ever there is a real trial of strength within In the West, the Democratic party is
itself, unaffected by the Negro problem, peculiarly the champion of economic causes
is essentially progressive, almost usually turns out to be progressive, and radical. In the West one finds Democratic
sometimes radical. Last year, when backing for.. state gasoline sale at
McAdoo was trying for the Democratic cost, government ownership of railroads. nomination, he won every Southern state
in which he tried. On the other hand, And finally,
Senator Underwood, who is a Southerner, In the East, the Democratic party is
but also a conservative, carried only his highly organized by the bosses.. It is
own state, and even that under circumin the large cities, with their immigrant
stances which showed how little real hold throngs, that the Democratic party has its
conservatism has in the South. This stronghold. Tammany Hall, · [the] result, as between McAdoo and UnderCook County machine (in Illinois) illustrate wood, was ascribed partly to the Ku Klux the trend of Democratic control. In the Klan issue; but in reality that had less East the party
is com- weight than was made to appear. mercial, boss-ridden, highly organized, and local.
CONFLICTS BETWEEN WETS AND DRYS Those are the three geographical divi- CLEAVAGE exists between the sions of the Democratic party, as seen Democracy of the South and that of by a man who happens to be at once an the West, but it is not irreparable. At editor with a background of scholarship, the same time, it is necessary to call atand also an active politician. In justice tention to another cleavage, not mento Mr. Milton, I should make it clear tioned by Mr. Milton. Part of the that these necessarily brief quotations do Democratic Party is violently dry; part of not adequately picture his whole thought. it violently wet. The Southern statesHe thinks that the contrast between the where there is really only one party: Western and Southern sections of the the Democratic—were among the earliparty is more apparent than actual; that est to go dry. They did so largely because the commonly accepted picture of the of the same condition that determines South as conservative or reactionary was most things political in the South. The more true ten years ago than it is to-day; South exiled liquor because it was unand that it is possible for the South to willing to endure its devastating effect unite with the West.
on the Negro, and indirectly on itself. In fact, this is the net of Mr. Milton's In the West, also, the Democratic reflections—that the South and West party is largely dry, because, in the West, should unite in some kind of Liberal nearly everybody is on the dry side. In Democratic League, make war on the a few Western states like Wisconsin and present local Democratic organizations Minnesota, what is left of the old liquor in the Eastern states, drive them out of activity in politics takes a rather furtive power, and erect in the Eastern states refuge locally in the Democratic party; a Democratic organization sympathetic but even in those states, in any local to the South and West.
Democratic primary, with the issue I think, fully as strongly as Mr. Milton clearly raised and a large vote out, the does, that the Southern Democracy's drys invariably win. conservatism is merely superficial. Those In the East, the Democratic party is
prevailingly wet. In some of the Eastern sissippi, who delivered the keynote speech states—such as New York, New Jersey, at the last Democratic National Conand Pennsylvania, the Democratic or vention, made a reply in which, after ganization is very wet. It is also wet in intimating pretty strongly that his DemoMaryland. In some of these states the cratic colleague from Maryland is a “reacwet issue is the principal cause in which tionary” and a “defender of trusts,” said: the local Democratic leaders are inter
There is not room in the United States for ested.
two reactionary parties, and whenever the On other than geographical lines, of
Democratic attires itself in the garb of rethe two outstanding Democratic leaders
actionism it will cease to function. in the sense of having organized followings, William G. McAdoo is very dry, To that, Senator Bruce felt called upon while his rival, Gov
to talk back. Some ernor Smith of New
of his references to York, is wet.
his adversary inMinority Control The dry vs. wet
cluded such words cleavage is deeper "The Democratic party must abolish the
as "small-bore parthan any other two-thirds rule, whereby a candidate for the tisan”; but it is not chasm in the Dem Presidential nomination must have two
necessary to quote ocratic party. thirds of the delegates. During the past
any more to show Surveyed geosixty years the rule has been kept alive by
the strong differthe South, on the theory that the rule gives graphically, there
ences, even the hosthe South a veto on anything that might fore, the Democratinterfere with their position on the question,
tility, between two ic party is not an
Democratic Senachiefly, of Negro voting. But in the last entity. It is at convention the rule gave Tammany and
tors. Senator Bruce least a trinity, and Northern city organizations allied with
went on to say that possibly even more Tammany a veto on what was desired by in his judgment the nearly hydra the South and West combined. That rule ills of the Demoheaded.
should be looked on from the broadest cratic party in the If we now survey
ground. Thus seen, its effect is to prevent recent campaign it from the point of the Democrats from functioning normally."
arose from the fact view of leadership
that, in the precedin the House and
ing Congress, DemSenate, we find the same condition. In ocratic leaders like Harrison had allied the Senate, during the recent session, one themselves with La Follette. Democrat, Bruce of Maryland, said of It was not merely between Bruce and some other Democrats:
Harrison that these fundamental dif
ferences emerged. There was the same | The representatives from the Solid South
kind of difference between Bruce, on one still call themselves Democrats
but here you have gentlemen from the South-a
side, and, on the other, so typical a section that for years was wedded to the idea
Western Democratic Senator as Walsh of of local self-government and state sovereignty Montana, who was the chairman of the -ready to vote to establish a great national last national convention. On one occommercial fertilizer factory at Muscle Shoals. casion Walsh said, referring to Bruce: The Democratic party has recently
It is, to say the least, a little remarkable been identifying itself to such an extent with
that a Senator who signalized his appearance departures of one sort or another from all the
among us by voting for the Republican candiold, true American ideas and ideals that it has
date for chairman of one of the important lost for the time being the confidence of the
committees of the Senate, should have concountry, I, for one, am not to be
stituted himself the mentor of his associates intimidated by these vague references to
upon this side of the Chamber and the censor “trusts."
of their acts and their motives. Whereupon Senator Harrison of Mis Between other groups of Democratic
Three Possible Democratic “Planks"
Senators, there was the same kind of described as "the most radical measure acrimonious exchange. One was between ever supported by any President in peaceSenator Dial of South Carolina, and the time"; a more far-reaching attempt at Democratic leader, Robinson of Arkansas. government invasion of the rights of On that occasion, Senator Dial spoke of private property. Essentially, the bill what is the sorest ache in the Democratic proposed to apply the principles of the consciousness: the feeling mentioned pre- control of railroads by the Interstate viously, that they were beaten because, Commerce Commission, to the control in the Congress preceding, they had fol- of houses and apartments for rent in the lowed La Follette:
District of Columbia. The Democratic party as it is, has suffered
Also, Coolidge was elected, and Hardsuccessive defeats and disasters in appeals to ing before him, on the theory that the the people because it has ceased to be Demo- Republican party is opposed to governcratic. . Let us manfully realize the
ment in business; but Harding gave more truth that we are beaten ... because attention to the government-owned merby our own weakness and cowardice and errors cantile marine than to any other domestic we have alienated public confidence.
question, and Coolidge has never indiWe have fallen into shifty opportunism, seizing cated any purpose inconsistent with the every fad of the moment, yielding to every Government continuing in the shipping pressure from lobbies and galleries, veering business. to every wind that seemed to promise popular
The Republican party, in short, does ity, regardless of the direction from which it
what is commended to the Democratic blew.
Instead of calling to us the insurgent Republicans and offering them op- party—it does not take its positions on portunity to be useful and effective with us by any basis of logical or historical consisadopting and accepting our principles, we have tency; it merely presents the public with abjectly trailed behind them, allowing them to a group of positions on current questions. lead us to combined uselessness and ineffec- If the Democratis think there is a large tiveness not only mortifying but ludicrous. body of voters in America opposed to Trying to use them in ways disgraceful to both,
government regulation of rents, and we have allowed them to use us to the damna
government operation of ships, those two tion of both.
opportunities of contrast to the party in Once we commend the Democrats to
power are open for them to take. That is accept the condition that they can fulfill the sort of opportunity they will have to their function only by being the opposi- take if they are to marshal the opposition tion to the Republican party, the next to the Republicans. question is: Just what is the Republican
THE FARMER AND THE TARIFF party? Coolidge and the other persons
S RESPECTS the tariff, the Republic
of con- cans apparently intend to be consisservatism--but not of so much conserva- tent with their historical position-aptism as to affront everybody who is not parently rather more, indeed, than merely of that school of thought.
consistent. During the closing days of It was essentially an act of conservatism the recent session, through President to outlaw La Follette and his associates. Coolidge's Agricultural Commission and That, alone, is enough to secure to the through other Administration leaders, a Republicans such advantages as go with tariff policy was proposed that goes bethe conservative brand. But there are yond anything America has ever known. curious exceptions to the Republican For the first time, the policy of a “tariff conservatism. President Coolidge, dur- for protection" was not enough. A "taring the recent session of Congress, gave
iff for stimulation" was proposed. support to a bill regulating rents in the The Agricultural Commission made the District of Columbia; a bill, which, in the rather startling proposal that the Ameriform in which Coolidge supported it, was can farmer should cease to consider either
now in control of the Republican party. As
buying abroad or selling abroad. The much repelled by anything else in the suggestion was made that the American Democratic program. There are some farmer drop all consideration of that 10 manufacturers, also, whose circumstances per cent. of his product he has been selling will lead them to look with tolerance on a abroad, and devote the corresponding low tariff. For the future, since the acreage to raising what we now buy from domestic void is now about filled, the abroad. The suggestion was accompanied great market for American automobiles is by the qualification that the farmer going to be abroad. These exported should tolerate a prohibitive tariff for automobiles, like our exported money, manufactures and all other lines of indus can best be paid for by facilitating, try, the whole looking toward making rather than preventing, the import of America a self-con
equivalent goods. tained country.
The American autoThat is one school
mobile manufacA “Tariff for Stimulation" of national business
turer does not want economy. A good “The Agricultural Commission made the a protective tariffmany people be rather startling proposal that the American he can undersell the lieve in it. But a farmer should cease to consider either buy world, tariff or no good many do not; ing abroad or selling abroad. The sugges tariff. But he does and this latter tion was made that the American farmer
need facility for drop all consideration of that 10 per cent. group is available
other countries to to the Democrats if
of his product he has been selling abroad,
buy and pay for his they are willing to
machines. raising what we now buy from abroad. The accept the issue, suggestion was accompanied by the qualifi
On these three and have the facilcation that the farmer should tolerate a pro
issues the Demoity to make it clear
hibitive tariff for manufactures and all other crats can take a to the public. If the lines of industry, the whole looking toward position opposed Democrats take the making America a self-contained country. to that of the contrasting posiThat is one school of national business
Republicans. Two tion on the tariff, economy. If the Democrats take the con
of the positions they will find some trasting position on the tariff, they will find
commended to the recruits who will some recruits who will look odd in any
Democrats, opposicollection of traditional Democrats." look odd in any col
tion to the Governlection of tradi
ment in the shiptional Democrats.
ping business, and The fact that America has become a opposition to government regulation of great money-lending nation is going to rents, are more conservative than the lead to some odd realignments on the position of the Republican leadership on tariff. The interest and principal owed these points. The other, the tariff, is an us from abroad can be paid only in one of issue outside the field of the contrast betwo ways, either by shipments of gold or tween conservatism and radicalism. by shipments of goods. There is hardly an It isn't necessary for the Democrats to economist or business man or statesman exile themselves from the conservative who doesn't believe it is a disadvantage field to find a position of contrast with the for America to receive more gold from Republicans. The permanent alignment abroad. If that method of payment is of parties in the American system of undesirable, it is a strange policy to deny government, and in the common mind of our creditors the opportunity of paying the majority of Americans, takes a form in goods. Those considerable interests, that was often put in words by Theodore banking and individual, who are con Roosevelt, namely: Two parties, both cerned with our investments abroad, will prevailingly conservative on fundamental be willing to follow the Democrats on a questions, but both progressive enough low-tariff position, if they are not too bid for the progressive vote.
“Old Hickory's” Impracticable Bequest
The party that takes the radical position affairs. The limitation that holds the on anything fundamental, such as aboli- Republican leaders back is the same that tion of the power of the Supreme Court, must be accepted by the Democratic or favoring government ownership of rail- leaders, namely, the caution of a majority roads, is beaten at the start. There of the American voters. That caution are some other positions that carry the may be excessive; but it is a fact and same taboo, positions which the Demo- must be so regarded until education or cratic party is often solicited to take, but some other process shall have dissipated it. which are fatal for any party to take. One One step the Democratic party needs is the anti-prohibition position. A ma- to take through the sheer necessity of jority of the American voters are dry. acquiring the capacity to function. It Many even of those who would be willing must abolish the two-thirds rule, whereby to see some relaxation of the present a candidate for the Presidential nominastatus will shrink from any party that tion must have two thirds of the delegates. puts an attack on prohibition in its Stated the other way round-and this is platform. If modification of our present the way it really works-one third the prohibition laws is ever made, it will be delegates have a veto power. made by those who are the friends of That rule was devised by Andrew Jackprohibition. That delicate bit of surgery son, under circumstances that no longer will be entrusted to doctors who want the exist, to prevent a personal enemy from patient to live, not to any avowed enemy being nominated for Vice-President. of all prohibition.
During the past sixty years the rule has
been kept alive by the South, on the FOREIGN RELATIONS AND POLITICIANS
theory that the rule gives the South a *HE other fatal position is on foreign veto on anything that might interfere
relations. The Democrats recognized with their position on the question, that when they said in their recent plat chiefly, of Negro voting. But in the form, that the League of Nations should last convention the rule gave Tammany not be a partisan question. The Demo- and Northern city organizations allied crats can win only by presenting contrast with Tammany a veto on what was dewith specific positions taken by the Repub- sired by the South and West combined. licans; and in the field of foreign relations That rule should be looked on from the there is nothing the Republicans will do broadest ground. or refuse to do, that will fail to agree with Thus seen, its effect is to prevent the what a majority of Americans want. The Democrats from functioning normally. Republican leaders are as willing as the It makes of the party organization, not a Democratic leaders to take an affirmative flexible mechanism, but a crystallized and constructive position about foreign deadlock, a permanent feud.