Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
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New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co.
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Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
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PRIMARY ELECTIONS. Primary elections, the caucus and the caucus system, are terms used to designate the political action through which nominations for elective officers are made. In a restricted sense, primary elections would only refer to the election of delegates and committees in the primary assemblies of the people, or to political associations for political purposes; but the phrase is used herein as comprehending the theory and action of both those associations and of the delegates they select.


—By reason of the very restricted suffrage in Great Britain, until within a few years, her history affords little instruction in regard to such elections. Her politicians are now looking to our system, as by far the most developed, for light in dealing with problems which the ballot and her enlarged suffrage have lately presented.


—In a sparse population, or even before considerable cities arise, there are so few officers elected, and all political affairs are so simple and transparent, that if what may be called a "primary system" exists, it rarely develops abuses. Those who are most worthy of office, and the merits of those who seek it, are known to nearly all the voters. Complex machinery for nominations and for the support of candidates, is equally unnecessary and unavailing. The gains to be derived from controlling caucuses and coercing officials, are too small to enable political manipulators to convert such matters into a profitable business.


—But the growth of cities and of the complexity of life which creates a need for elaborate police and sanitary administration, soon causes some organization for making nominations to be indispensable. At first it is very simple, hardly more than an informal coming together of the more patriotic citizens just before the election. The caucus system of New England, said to have been devised by Samuel Adams, was in theory, and at least in early practice, little more than an extemporized consultation by the voters generally—or by a portion of them and the recognized leaders of the others acting publicly for those who did not attend in person—for the purpose of deciding upon the proper persons to be voted for at the next elections. The idea of dictation, monopoly or gain, was no part of the motive force of the system. Such, too, is that system as now being generally carried into effect in the country districts. But in the larger cities of New England, as in other cities, it has lost much of its original justice and purity in the growth of vicious methods more or less analogous to those of New York and Philadelphia.


—The long habit of treating whatever action precedes the election as beyond the domain of law, and hence as within the range of the absolute, irresponsible liberty of the citizen, naturally causes every proposal to bring primary elections within statute regulation to be denounced as a species of despotism, repugnant to the just liberty of parties and the private rights of politicians. They appeal to the past as illustrating the true sphere of law and of the liberty of partisans, precisely as the authors of intolerable nuisances and the builders of unsafe houses make the same appeal, when for the first time safe walls and good sewerage and ventilation are required by law.


—A resort to the same reasoning is also prompted by other motives. The control of primary elections by party managers—by chieftains and bosses in their final development—creates powerful combinations and interests in behalf of its continuance. A specious appeal to a pretended natural right and to familiar usage is thus made to cover gross forms of corruption and extreme methods of despotism.


—Further than this, those who make a trade of politics, and find a profit in giving their time to manipulating primaries and dictating nominations, charge those who can not give so much attention to politics with neglecting their political duties, and with complaining of abuses of which their own neglect is declared to be in large measure the cause. There is unquestionably some foundation for this charge; but it is vastly overstated. The important question is, whether we have a good primary system, whether a better one is practicable, and whether the facilities for making a lucrative trade of politics may not and should not be checked by law.


—There is yet another cause worthy of notice, which facilitated the toleration of those abuses until long after their magnitude had required the hand of the legislator. Besides, being of a character little open to observation, they were connected with a discharge of public duty by those causing them, the very performance of which seemed to supersede the need of the citizens giving much attention to the elections. To assail the abuses, therefore, seemed to combine ingratitude with self-condemnation. It was only when the evil began to be alarming that the higher public opinion began to boldly condemn such specious arguments, and to reason soundly on the subject.


—It was in the very nature of these abuses that they should be the greatest in New York city, where population is most concentrated, the greatest number of officers are to be elected, and the extremes of ignorance, poverty and wealth are the most developed. They had there become so threatening before 1866, that in that year the New York legislature, in a statute in a loose way covering the principle of adequate legislation, made penal certain forms of bribery at primary elections. The active and venal classes interested in the corruptions of her primary system have thus far, however, been strong enough to prevent an efficient execution of the law. But, in the meantime, the sense of peril and duty has developed far more potentially, demanding more comprehensive enactments in the same spirit. This demand caused two limited enactments on the subject by the New York legislature of last winter. In the same spirit there has been legislation on the subject in Ohio, Virginia (applicable to Richmond) and in Pennsylvania, though on several points it is yet very defective. The two laws enacted in Pennsylvania last winter are far more comprehensive and penal than those of the same date enacted in New York. But in some respects the statutes of Ohio on the subject are superior to both. In Ohio (Rev. Stat., vol. i., §§ 2916-2921, and vol. ii., §§ 7039-7044), primary elections are in large measure brought under the general election laws. Notice of the elections must be published and posted. Judges, clerks and supervisors of the elections are to be sworn. Any qualified elector may challenge any one offering to vote, and questions must be put touching his qualifications. The offering or accepting of money or reward by a voter to influence his vote at a primary election, or the making of threats, or any attempts to intimidate or distract a voter at such election, are made penal, and are also a disqualification; and so is the asking or receiving of any money or property by any delegate from any candidate for nomination, or the paying or promising of any money by any candidate to any delegate for the purpose of obtaining any influence or vote in a convention. It is also made penal and a disqualification for holding the office, for any candidate for nomination by a political party for an office of trust or profit, to do any act forbidden as aforesaid, for the purpose of securing influence in his behalf. These provisions are in a high degree comprehensive and salutary, and they deserve the attention of other states. Yet they are less complete, in important particulars, than the English bribery and office-brokerage laws in this article referred to.


—The statutes of California make the calling and holding of primary meetings under the election laws optional. But, in case they are so held, some special provisions of a mild character are added. The entire provisions are meagre and inadequate. (Political Code, section 1357.)


—In New York the corruption and despotism of her system of primary elections are now regarded as so intolerable that the state convention of each party, for the present year, has made a pledge in its platform to reform that system. But much diversity of opinion exists as to the most appropriate and efficient means.


—To comprehend the system is the first essential step toward a remedy for its abuses. Wherever such abuses exist, they tend to become identical with those in New York, falling short as do population, complexity and ignorance. If a remedy can be found there, it can be found everywhere. If the evil grows at that great centre, it encourages imitation in every other city. Let us, then, see what they have become.


—The vastness of the population and the great number and variety of the officers to be elected are important elements of the problem. In towns and villages, every shoemaker at his bench, and every woman over her wash tub, may know the merits of the candidates. But in a city of 1,200,000 people, not one voter in a hundred is acquainted with one in twenty of the candidates. Besides voting for governors and federal electors, the city elects seven members of congress, five state senators, and twenty-four members of the assembly. To these the local judges, justices, coroners, the mayor and aldermen, and other officers, both executive and judicial, who are elective, must be added. Each party, and sometimes each faction, has its candidates. An official list of the candidates to be voted for in November, 1881, though no governor or lieutenant governor, only two members of congress, and no judge of any one of the three higher courts in the city, were to be elected, yet shows 165 candidates in the field to be voted for on the same day. At some elections hardly less than 200 candidates are pressing their claims. There are 688 different places where the votes are received in the city. The legislative officers of a town or village represent the peculiar local interests and views as to the corporation, of which the voters are well informed. These views and interests are the basis of responsibility and the test of fidelity. In a great city, the districts or wards, in which such officers are elected, and which in theory they represent, are little more than nominal divisions—the dwellers in so many blocks of houses separated only by streets from the next divisions—having no organic relations and no peculiar interest or opinions to be represented; such conditions are very unfavorable to a high sense of responsibility to constituents. They make all local test of fidelity almost impossible. The boundaries of the 688 polling districts are as arbitrary as those of the districts for representation. The voters, on an average, perhaps do not know by sight one in twenty of the persons who vote at the same place. All such facts add new facilities to those afforded by the heterogeneousness of the population and the great number of the candidates, for double and treble false voting, fraudulent personation and counts at these numerous polling places—evils which the most stringent registry laws and the most efficient inspection can do little more than mitigate. Ignorance on the part of the voter of much that he needs to know, a sense of irresponsibility on the part of candidates and officials, and an almost impenetrable complication in the whole machinery of primary elections, are natural under such conditions. They suggest the possibility of making a vast and profitable business and a potent influence in politics, through controlling "the primaries," and thereby predetermining the elections. For many of those candidates the whole city votes; for others only a few wards or districts: for still others only a single one of the smaller districts. The great parties—the chieftains, bosses and their lieutenants who have reduced the nominating machinery to a system and become experts in its management—are a central power, the whole force of which can be concentrated upon the smallest district. Those who confront it there stand alone. Citizens who do not make a business of politics lack the organization and time necessary for resisting successfully the aggressive and ceaseless activity of the great party managers. The greed of many for office; the ambition of scheming leaders for patronage and supremacy; the fierce zeal of partisans for party victory; the heat, recklessness and impetuosity born of nearly 200,000 voters contending together in the political arena of a single city, in which a nomination at the primaries, unless there be a popular uprising, is essential to an election: these are but a part of the elements which give importance to primary elections, and concentrate upon them all the cunning, intrigue and interests of the politician class. That class acts upon the theory that the primary elections practically decide who is to be elected, and that the control of them is, in a general way, the control of the legislative, executive and judicial authority, by which 1,200,000 people are governed.


—The other elements of the primary system are more venal and corrupt, being in part the outgrowth of the abuses of the primary system itself. 1. There are subordinate to these elected officers, about 10,000 officials and many employés in the city, of whom the annual compensation (including that of the elected officers) is nearly eleven millions of dollars. And of federal officials there are in the city more than 2,500 (besides employés), whose annual compensation exceeds $2,500,000. There are to be added also many salaried officials of the state who serve in the city. It has long been the practice of both parties (and sometimes even of chieftains and bosses on their own account) to levy upon such salaries and wages amounts varying from 1 to 3 or 4 per cent., under the name of "political assessments" (see ASSESSMENTS, and "North American Review," for September, 1882); and the large sums thus extorted have been used to meet the expenses both of the primary system and of party management generally. 2. This habit of assessment extortion, which is really the enforcement of an annual rent upon his office against the public servant (a practice vigorously supported by the elected officers) naturally led to the practice of demanding money for a primary nomination. Vast sums are thus obtained, to be used for the same objects as the assessment collections. Here is a practice having all the iniquity of a public sale of offices. There is, in fact, what may be called a customary price required for nomination to the respective grades of office, and good reason for thinking that from $500 to $1,000 is exacted for a nomination to the legislature and from $1,000 to $5,000 for nomination to a judgeship. (See last citations.) The demoralizing effects of such practices, and the vicious and almost irresistible potency they give to the regular nominating machinery, are obvious. 3. The other great element of corruption at the primaries is not less powerful and demoralizing. Under the spoils system (see article under this heading), this vast army of subordinates, federal, state and municipal, have had their appointments dictated by the elected official and the party chieftains. It has been a part of the conditions of the nomination, not only that they should pay such assessments or be removed, but that, subject to the same penalty, they should render active feudal service to the powers that gave them places. Failing to do this, they are, under that system, sure to be removed. (See REMOVALS.) These thousands of officials under such a tenure, have swelled the list of obedient voters at the primary meetings, and of subservient workers for the election of the nominees of such meetings.


—In these facts we find the intimate relations between the purification of the primaries and the great problem of civil service reform. If the primaries were honest and made worthy nominations, the great officers could no longer secure money and henchmen by plundering and enslaving the humble member of the civil service. If the civil service was filled by the more meritorious, selected through competitive examinations (see CIVIL SERVICE REFORM), subordinate officials would be under no pledges and have no inclination to pay assessments or perform degrading partisan work.


—With such facts in mind, let us see what kind of a primary system has been developed in New York. The practical methods of that system, as it is now enforced by either party, were matured under the control of the Tammany society. That society, generally designated as "Tammany Hall," was founded in the first year of Washington's administration, and was incorporated in 1805. It had originally a benevolent or patriotic purpose, and a distinguished membership. But as early as 1812 It was seeking political control. In 1827 it began to meddle with the primaries, and by 1834 it was dominant in city politics. There seems to be good authority for saying, that, in the forty-eight years since which New York has elected her mayors, Tammany Hall has controlled their nomination for at least thirty years. Its power had become absolute alike over nominations, appointments, assessments, removals, and all city expenditures, long before the saturnalia of corruption, pillage and despotism, during which Tweed, Barnard, Fisk, and their associates, flourished. The society is permanent. It has a central general committee with autocratic power, whose action is final and secret. There are subcommittees in each of the twenty-four assembly districts, whose members are drawn from each of the 784 election districts in the city; there being, in all, from 2,500 to 3,000 of these working committeemen. The general committee appears to have power to supersede any nomination made in any of the districts, and it may remove any subcommittee man for insubordination. While this great central authority has not wholly prevented the growth of powerful factions in the democratic party, it has, with slight exception, controlled with a resistless hand all the primary elections of the party, and no rebellious faction has long survived. It has sold nominations, and levied assessments in vast amounts, to fill its treasury, and has used the money to pay its expenses, to bribe the press, to purchase the support of persons of influence, and to reward its own chieftains. It has also rewarded its friends and bribed its opponents by the gift of places in the public service. It has converted those who fill that service into henchmen as servile, and into voters as compliant, as its own dependent committees. Its perpetuity of corporate life; its long experience in the arts of manipulation; its ability to fill its own treasury by indirectly plundering, through assessments, that of the city, state and nation, as well as by the sale of nominations; its great army of workers made up of its own subordinates and the public officials: these vast elements of power have made Tammany Hall almost as irresistible as it has been audacious, greedy and aggressive. It only needed the authority to say who should be members of the primaries, and, as a result, who should be allowed to vote for delegates and nominations, in order to make such an organization absolutely despotic. That final step was not difficult. With resources so unlimited, within the partisan circles, it was easy to dictate the terms upon which the new generations should enter them. It was not long after 1834 before such authority was acquired. The primary organizations in the smallest districts were changed into partisan (Tammany) clubs, with a continuing membership and strict tests for admission. Neither long adhesion to the party, nor sincere devotion to its principles, would secure admission to the local primary. Every applicant must secure the vote or consent of a majority of the old members after his election, before he would be admitted. If elected, he must come under two pledges: 1, to obey all orders of the general committee, and 2, to support all regular nominations, before his membership would be complete. The members of these primaries were the only recognized members of the party, and hence the only persons eligible to any office or able to participate in any action or honors of the party. Whoever attempted, even in the most obscure district of the city, to bring forward any candidate not approved by the great central mercenary authority, at once felt the crushing weight of this powerful, all-pervading, despotic primary system. How hostile such a system is to all free and noble aspiration, to all exposure of abuses, and to all disinterested effort in politics, and how naturally and rapidly official degradation followed from such a system, need not be pointed out. It is plain enough, too, that such a system would never give a true representation of the people, especially of the more patriotic and self-respecting portion of them.


—The-republicans not only found this primary system complete, but, early, there came into their ranks thousands of politicians familiar with its enforcement, and greedy for its spoils. The time and manner of its reproduction in the republican party we need not recount. It is enough that, not long after the war, assessments, nominations made for a price, officials converted into partisan henchmen, the old democratic primary methods, an aristocratic secret central committee, and servile pledges of support and obedience at the gates of the primaries, were all a part of the machinery of the new party. No one could become a member of a primary unless elected by a majority of the old members. No one not a member, however true and worthy a republican or noble a citizen, had any vote for a delegate, any chance for an office, any recognition by the party leaders. The smaller the membership of the primaries, the more easily they were manipulated by the chieftains and bosses, and the more certainly the henchmen could outvote the more independent members. At no time did that membership exceed in number a fourth of the city voters of the party, and for several years it has hardly been one-sixth. All nominations and all platforms, save when the independent unite in rebellion, are made by the delegates of these primaries. The pledges and servility required for getting into a primary have excluded the more independent and conscientious voters. There is nothing in the republican primaries corresponding to the original primary meetings of New England, in which every adherent of the party was presumptively a member. Hence there is, even in theory, no real representation of the party, but only a confederation of selfish, partisan clubs, under the name of primaries and the pretense of representation. The organization of the twenty-four republican primaries of the city is as complicated, and the access to membership is as difficult, as that of any private club. The name of the applicant must be posted on a bulletin, and there stand until the next monthly meeting, before it can even go to the committee on admissions. If favorably reported, it must yet gain a majority of those present at a monthly meeting of the primary; a result quite problematical if the pliant obedience of the candidate is not made clear, or if he is not a member of the faction or the follower of the boss domineer in his primary; and his application must be to the primary of his district. If he secures a majority, he must yet not only take in substance the old Tammany pledge, "to obey all orders of the general committee" (whose action is secret), and "to support all nominations approved by that committee," but he must also bind himself not to join any organization which does not recognize the authority of the primary association he seeks to join! This is, of course, intended to prevent all movements for reform. If elected, he may at any time be expelled by a majority of the members at any meeting of the association, if he is held to have violated any of those pledges. After an expulsion, he can get back only by a vote of the primary. Such is the liberty of a member.


—The growth of these evils has long been apparent. The servile conditions of membership have repelled the better class of citizens. A large part of the money gained by assessment and the sale of nominations has found its way into the pockets of the henchmen and schemers, by whom, generally, the primaries have been controlled. From the same fund venal demagogues and mercenary journals have secured liberal pay for doing the dirty work of politics. An unscrupulous, greedy generation of partisans has made a profitable trade of party management, and has obtained the control of the city primaries. These classes have brought the party management under a low morality and poor ability, in the same degree that they have disgusted and alienated its worthy members. Such causes have greatly increased the indefensible inclination of many citizens to stand aloof from politics.


—It is in such associations, and through the votes of members thus deprived of half their manhood and all their independence, that the delegates of the republican party are selected, by whom the seats of its conventions are filled, the declarations of its principles are framed, and the nominations of its great officers are made. Nowhere else in the state is the primary system so arbitrary as in the city of New York, but much of its theory is enforced in all the municipalities, and its spirit is felt even in the towns. It is such a system in New York, and hardly less in Philadelphia, which has made possible the servility in conventions, the feudal despotism of party leaders, the shameless forgeries for carrying nominations, and the open warfare of factions, by which the better citizens are disgusted, politics are degraded, and great parties have been enfeebled, demoralized and corrupted. In a letter dated August, 1871, the present governor, Mr. Cornell, then chairman of the republican state committee of New York, after saying that "the interests of the party could not be intrusted to the republican primaries, and that their rolls contain fictitious names," declares that "when the delegates to the general committee of 1871 were elected, a very large portion of the true republicans in every district declined to take part in such election, on account of the frauds and violence and the facts hereinbefore set forth"; and that "many of the presidents of the republican associations were in the direct employment of the city officials. * * Members of the general committee have since acknowledged that they were paid large sums of money to vote in accordance with the dictates of the Tammany officials. * * As might be expected, the elections of delegates to conventions in nearly all of the districts were mere farces."


—There has been but very inadequate improvement since. George Bliss, district attorney under President Grant, in a letter to President Arthur, dated November. 1879, says: "The rolls are deceptive; in one district half the names of those on the rolls are not known in the district. These bogus names afford a convenient means for fraudulent voting. The rolls of many of the districts are full of the names of men not republicans, and are used by the managers to perpetuate their control of the associations. On the other hand, desirable members, good republicans, who have an absolute right to become members, are excluded. Sometimes this is done by a direct rejection, but oftener by a refusal to vote upon the names presented. * * At elections they are or are not members, according as they are or are not prepared to vote a ticket satisfactory to the controlling powers. So notorious is it that elections in the associations are not fairly conducted, that contests are of rare occurrence." He says, "a reform of the primary system must be made," or the republican party of the state "must and will be swept out of existence." There has hardly been any change in New York for the better since 1879, if indeed her primaries have not become more mercenary and proscriptive. Such are the reasons which have made the question of primary elections in the leading states, and must, not long hence, make them in other states, a subject of great peril and difficulty.


—As the fate of elections and the general welfare is plainly involved in this primary action, there can be no more question of the sound policy of extending the laws over it than there is as to the expediency of registering voters or educating the poor. The real question is, how to do it effectively.


—1. It is plain, that, in the voting for members of the primaries, in their proceedings as organized bodies, in the methods of selecting delegates, and in the discharge of duties of the delegates, there is every opportunity for injustice, fraud and corruption that there is in the formal elections of officers, or in the discharge of their duties. The New York state convention, for example, has just been disgraced by flagrant cases of forgery which have affected, if they have not decided, the nomination of a governor. No New York statute covers such cases, though that of Ohio probably would. It is plain enough, therefore, that the provisions, in principle if not in detail, which punish cheating, falsehood and violence at the final election, should be extended to the primary elections also. A committee of the legislature of New York reported, last winter, that the fraudulent practices at the primary elections now unpunished can be prevented from soon extending to the official elections, only by legal prohibitions. More stringent legislation on it is essential. The two Pennsylvania laws enacted upon this subject in 1881, go far beyond the New York statutes of the same year, and are examples of legislation which well illustrate the better spirit which is becoming potential in both states.


—2. Recognizing the possibility that a disciplined band of politicians may gain too much power in the primaries, whatever legal safeguards may be thrown around them, other bills offered on the subject, and especially in New York have gone further than mere penal provisions, by providing for a direct vote of the people in the primaries for the candidates for election, instead of for delegates to make nominations. The primary elections are thus practically converted into a first vote for officers; the second vote being the elections themselves, at which, however, only those can be voted for who have received the highest vote of the party at the first election. On this theory, strictly applied, delegates and conventions are made unnecessary, but, in some forms of its proposed application, delegates for specific purposes are to be voted for at the time of the first vote. There are also provisions in some of the bills allowing a given number of citizens to put forward a candidate, at the first election, they being in the sense of the law "a party," though not in the popular sense of the word. Their candidate, having the majority of their votes, could therefore be among the highest eligible to be voted for at the second or final election. Much as that device might at first curtail the present power of the primary despots, it is plain that their vicious nominating machinery could be put in force to forestall the first election by making nominations therefor. Without adequate provisions for making a fictitious legal party as aforesaid, it is plain that the rule of confining the final vote to the party candidates having the most votes, would greatly increase partisan tyranny and monopoly. It would make partisan tests more mischievous and controlling than they now are in municipal elections. As both elections, on this theory, are made legal and public proceedings, the expenses of both alike are to be paid from the public treasury. It can not, therefore, be doubted that the legitimate expenses of elections would be considerably increased; though, if the sums gained by assessments and the sale of nominations are added, it is very likely the expenses of the new methods would be less. This experiment of double voting appears to have been tried with some benefit in Richmond, Virginia. The need of bringing the action of the primaries under legal provisions is so plain and imperative, the subject is so complicated, difficult and new to legislation, that the expediency of attaching to it new and doubtful methods of elections is at least very questionable. It may cause great delay.


—3. Other legislation and further remedial measures are needed for the purification of the primary system. We must by penal statutes suppress the raising of money by assessments and the sale of nominations. So long as partisan managers are allowed to gain by such means abundant money for filling their own pockets and those of their camp followers, for bribing the press, and for compensating demagogue oratory, they will be stimulated to a pernicious and almost irresistible activity. The unnatural spectacle will continue, of the lowest class of partisans, having the least stake in the welfare of the country, being the most active in politics and the most influential in the elections. Why should we expect any other result as long as that corruption fund can be divided among them by their own vote or the order of their chieftains? What is it but partisan despotism awarding the prizes for political corruption and servility?


—4. We must also, as an essential condition of honest primary elections, take from the great politicians and the elected officers their corrupt patronage, by reason of which, through threats of removal, they make the public officials their servants, and through actual removals they make places and spoils for their followers, who do the basest work of the elections. (See PATRONAGE.) The reform of the primaries is largely dependent upon the reform of the civil service. So long as we allow such opportunities of prostitution and corruption to be the prizes of elections, we have no right to expect them to be pure, and no reason for surprise that honest voters are discouraged and the baser elements so often triumph. If the better classes would elect their candidates, they must use their own money to pay expenses, and must forego the use of places for rewarding their mercenary supporters. The existing system allows the public treasury to be indirectly plundered, and the public service to be directly prostituted, by the politician class for their own ends; and when that system is arraigned, those who live upon its spoils declare that the abuses at the primary are caused by the neglect of the honest and independent voters to attend. In the very outset of their resistance, such voters must take money from their own pockets to match the tens of thousands which machine politicians plunder from the public servants, for campaign expenses. Let both classes alike be compelled to appeal to the voluntary contributions of the voters. When corrupt patronage shall be suppressed by filling the subordinate places through competitive examinations, and assessments and the sale of nominations shall be made penal, so that all classes alike must tax themselves for the election of their candidates, we shall no longer see the most mercenary and [Note: Next two letters missing in original, possibly "un"—Econlib Ed.]patriotic citizen the most active at the elections. Take from the vulgar lords of the primaries in New York or any other great city, the money they gain by extortion and the patronage they dispense by favor; force them thus to organize and to vote, like good citizens, on the basis of principle and duty, and the feverish, mercenary activity of those leaders will cease. The most intelligent and patriotic classes will be not only the most active but the most potential in our politics.


—5. The abuses of the primary system are as intimately connected with the sums which candidates pay, if not directly as a bribe for a nomination, yet indirectly by reason of its having been made, as they are with the moneys extorted through political assessments. A citizen of New York has, in the pending canvass, publicly refused to be a candidate, because the nomination was tendered on the condition of a money payment. The funds secretly gained by either means are secretly expended without legal responsibility, and often in ways utterly corrupt. In England, the laws have for some years required a public statement and official audit of election expenses; and these safeguards, together with her office-brokerage laws, have been a considerable check upon the corrupt use of money for influencing elections. These statutes are worthy our study.


—It might also be found an improvement if the voting papers were furnished, and portions, at least, of the legitimate expenses of the elections were, after proper audit, paid from the public treasury. Such payments would remove various excuses for assessment extortion and the sale of nominations; and, while taking an unjust advantage from candidates who can command money, would make it easier for worthy and scrupulous citizens of limited means, to stand as candidates.


—It would be altogether reasonable, and it would not be difficult, to compel every candidate for an elective office to file a statement, for public inspection, which should clearly set forth all money he had paid or become responsible for, directly or indirectly, by reason of his nomination or toward the expenses of his election; and he might also be made subject to a properly guarded examination before a judge upon the whole subject. The British government gave this theory of opening official doings to public inspection a very radical application nearly a century ago. (See 24 George III., chap. 25, sec. 55, and Eaton on "Civil Service in Great Britain," p. 140.) And an application somewhat analogous has been made in the laws applicable to the city of New York. (Laws of New York, 1873, chap. 335, sec. 109.)


—The purification of the primaries in great cities would be much facilitated by increasing the length of terms and by reducing the number of elective officers. The great number of candidates for election confuses and disgusts the voters in much the same degree that it makes the business of caucus management intricate, active and profitable. The election of such officers as constables, county clerks, secretaries, justices and judges, whose functions are in no sense representative, and who were appointed until the spoils system had become established, is indefensible upon any sound principles. The changes that made them elective were naturally desired by all those interested in the patronage of party chieftains or gains of primary elections. The honest voters, alarmed at the abuses of the appointing power, too readily consented to the change, in the hope that it would be an improvement. But for the abuse of that power, such officers would never have been made elective. With a true reform they will again be made appointive. (See REMOVALS.) Here, again, we see the close connection between the reform of the civil service and the reform of the primary system. To make the reappointment of such officers safe and satisfactory, we must reform the civil service. To relieve the primary system of the demoralizing duty of selecting officers in no sense representative, and only ministerial and administrative, we must make such officers again appointive.


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