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more strongly now than I was a year ago; but before affirming it in any other form than I did then, I am going to ask for any differences of opinion with regard to that point.
The second question, which I would like to see this conference discuss, is, What type of organization do you think best fitted to secure municipal reform and what offices are you going to attack? Are you going to try to cover them all or are you going to do as Chicago has done, concentrate, for instance, upon the city council.
The third question, which I would suggest for some discussion, is to what extent, if at all, can militant political good-government organizations do constructive work between campaigns ?
Lastly there is a form of reform work, which has never been given a hearing at the National Municipal League. I refer to the work of organizations like the Brooklyn Young Republicans Club which, confining its activities entirely within the organization of the Republican party of that city, does strive to secure the nomination and election of fit men to public offices.
Now, I suggest that we take these things up in order; and first, let us have any expression of opinion on the question of separate municipal parties as opposed to municipal voters' leagues. Mr. Bettman, you have still got a City Party, have you not?
MR. ALFRED BETTMAN, Cincinnati, Ohio: We have had one. We had a Citizens' Municipal party for a short time. As you probably know the Citizens' Municipal Party of Cincinnati was organized some years ago and placed a ticket in the field in a purely municipal election. The Democratic party decided to stay out of that campaign, allying itself with the Citizens' Municipal Party for that one campaign, although the vote did not show that the entire Democratic party voted the ticket.
The party then entered the campaign for the judicial offices, the judicial offices in our county being voted for at the time the county, state, congressional and national offices are voted for, and not as a rule at the time of municipal elections. It succeeded in getting the Democratic party in that campaign to endorse its judicial candidates.
At the time of the municipal election immediately previous to the one that we have just passed through, however, there was a City Party in the field opposed to the candidates of both the regular parties, and frankly opposed to both of them, growing out of a disagreement with or displeasure to the regular national party tickets. The two regular national party tickets having been put into the field first, the City Party's ticket was put into the field after them, all of which tended to place upon its candidates the inference of their being in personal opposition to the candidates on the other tickets.
There is grave danger in the present situation because of the fact that belief in an independent city party is not very strong, owing to the experience of the last City Party election and the fact that we have now a new direct primary bill, under which bill every man's right to vote at the primary is dependent upon his vote at one of the regular fall elections. It is not dependent upon his experience as to whether he is a Democrat or a Republican, but is dependent upon how he voted at the previous regular fall election. The result is that those independents desiring in a municipal election to have some part in the choice of candidates find themselves more and more compelled to ally themselves with one of the regular national parties. The tendency of this direct primary law is to weaken the cohesion of the independents, to drive them into one or the other of the two parties.
Mr. Mayo FESLER, St. Louis: A number of the gentlemen here are very much interested in the third question which you proposed; viz., What constructive work can these organizations do when the campaigns are not on? I should like to call upon a man, who has given a great deal of attention to this question and who is a very modest man,-Mr. Allen T. Burns, Secretary of the Civic Commission at Pittsburgh.
MR. BURNS: It is of the experience of the Municipal Voters' League at Chicago of which I will speak. That League had come to feel recently that they were living upon the record of glory and reputation made
in past days, that their activity and success had come Chica To
about largely because of the people's interest in the League's traction question, and that with the passing of that Experience question as an immediate problem before Chicago
the League influence would likely slump. This was impressed upon them by what they considered very largely their own failure in the matter of the recent telephone ordinance that was passed there, which indicated that they had lost influence both with the public and with the Council.
With this in view they felt, after discussing the matter for a number of months, that they perhaps needed to revise their platform and stand for more constructive and concrete questions. Accordingly they propounded to be proposed candidates for alderman last winter certain very searching questions on the relation of aldermen to city contracts and other acts of the city with which the aldermen were connected, and their financial interests. It is believed that graft, as formerly practiced in the old days in Chicago, exists comparatively little, but that corruption has taken on a new form and that the people need to be educated upon the more indirect connection between the city officials, and financial profit. There fore, they took this advance step, beginning with it quite a little while befo the nominations. To this new platform or plank in their platform they ascribed the fact that at the recent city election they perhaps achieved the greatest triumph in their history. Just preceding that, when they saw what was going to happen they at once began to form an entirely new platform. The old platform had served them for a number of years, but they felt that the time had now come for them to speak more constructively, to provide newer issues in order to educate the citizens upon some new points in the city's situation, and in that way go on with success. They now feel that they have achieved a new reputation and they believe that they are still living. (Applause.)
THE CHAIRMAN: If the Chairman may interfere, he would like to say in a certain sense, that is constructive work; that is, it is an attempt to build up and advance public opinion. But what was more particularly in his mind was the situation which has to be faced in an American city of from 100,000 to 500,000 population, which has we will say a municipal voters' league, but which has an antiquated city charter, which has a rotten fiscal system, that needs a better system of city accounting; a city where there has been no attempt made at any adequate city plan. Now, under such conditions, how far is it wise for an organization, which is militantly dealing with persons seeking public offices, to attempt to secure, we will say, a type of city plan or a type of city charter or a new fiscal system, or a new system of accounting? It is perfectly apparent, of course, that an organization, in dealing with candidates, can put to these candidates any question or set of questions that it feels like; and that if these questions are wisely chosen they may tend to constructively educate public opinion with regard to the candidates; but that is not quite the question which was intended when this was originally propounded.
MR. FESLER: I asked the question, because I have not many ideas. Mr. Hatton has been studying over that question in connection with other organizations in Cleveland. I do not know whether it is fair to him to ask him to state what has been revolving in his mind or not, but the question, Mr. Chairman, may be put to every one of the organizations here represented, whether or not they are militant organizations? Some of them are certainly doing what would be termed constructive work. Some of them are looking after the passage of laws to improve physical conditions. Can these organizations go into the field—for instance, the organization which I represent. When it goes after a piece of legislation, or the adoption of an ordinance or a new charter or a tenement house regulation, which is one of the greatest questions of the time, there are certain men in the municipal assembly who will oppose that kind of legislation. Is it the business of that organization, or will it cripple that organization to go into the field and see that proper men are put in office who will pass proper legislation? These are the questions that have been confronting us, and that was one of the things that I would like Mr. Hatton to discuss if he is willing.
PROF. HATTON : Like Mr. Burns, having had my first experience with those militant organizations in Chicago, and having particularly admired the early work of the Municipal Voters' League of Chicago, perhaps what I say ought to be taken with a certain degree of allowance, for the reason that perhaps I am unduly influenced by what was there accomplished.
It seems to me that in the discussion of constructive work by a militant political organization we have in mind something quite different even from the type of things that the Chicago Municipal Voters' League proposes under its new program. That does not seem to me to be constructive work in the true sense of the term; in other words that new program, so far as Mr. Burns has been able to state it, aims to do nothing upon which there would be a difference of opinion in the electorate as a question of policy. The question is whether this so-called militant organization should between campaigns adopt or take some stand on the questions upon which the electorate is divided. I am personally inclined to think that, and I have expressed this same opinion at the Pittsburgh meeting,-a militant organization, that is an organization that is based upon the fitness of candidates as to honesty and ability, can not safely undertake to do constructive work in the nature of taking a stand upon questions of policy.
The new program of the Chicago Municipal Voters' League is precisely what the Cleveland Municipal Association, so far as I know, has been doing from the beginning. We have always regarded that simply as a means of discovering whether the men that we were recommending according to their fitness or honesty or dishonesty were what we thought them to be. That is not a question of policy; that is not a thing upon which anybody, any two thinking men could have a difference of opinion; but when we
had to consider the question of whether of two men A New Type of whom we are presenting to the people we should reQuestion
commend one man because he believed in the establish
ment of some particular form of park system or because he believed in municipal ownership or not, we are brought face to face with an entirely new type of question. I am inclined to think that that is a step that a militant organization cannot take; because the moment you take that step you split your constituency into halves, because there are reasonable differences of opinion.
Then what can we do?
Clearly public sentiment needs to be educated. It seems to me that the militant political organizations can do this; that may be called constructive work, that they can bring definitely before the people between campaigns and during campaigns the arguments on both sides of these controverted questions. They can perform the work of getting before the electorate a full, a fair statement of the arguments on either side. That we can do. That I think our militant political organizations may very well undertake. Beyond that I am still doubtful whether a political organization can go.
REV. ALFRED W. Wishart, Grand Rapids, Mich.: It seems to me that we have overlooked an alliance of some sort with an organization or institution ... whether a militant organization or not I don't know—that would be very valuable. I refer to the influence of the church in the United States of America. It has been said that Boston is not so much a place as a state of mind. I believe that it is a state of mind that is so often a hindrance in our community to the progress of our institutions, I believe that that state of mind is made up of ideas which the people get from the men who help to mold public opinion to a very great degree, namely the ministers of the United States.
I believe that we have overlooked the fact that many of the churches to-day are taking up in their classes applied Christianity. They are study
ing practical religion, and such questions as are disChurches as cussed before such bodies as this; so that all through Allies
the country there is to-day an increased interest in the
study of applied Christianity; and I believe that this organization by securing co-operation of some of the men who are interested in this work, can help this organization spread the ideas which it wants the people to get hold of. I think that a great many of the ministers of this country need education on this matter. I know that many of them of large influence spread the idea that the kind of work in which we are engaged, and all kinds of social work, is simply dealing with the surface of things. They constantly tell the people that all we need is that men should become Christians, and all our social problems would be solved. While that may be true, if we define our terms, yet the average man is not peculiarly wedded to the theory that in some indefinite fashion he is to reach heaven by and by and therefore he does not need to take up this question of cleansing the environment and changing our civic, political and social conditions in our communities for the better. We have heard at ministerial conventions many and many an address which was opposed to this kind of work in which we are engaged as an attempt to deal superficially with the great social problems that confront us. I believe that steps could be taken to interest that large body of men in this kind of work and show them its value, without entering into the field of sectional or denominational religion, but on the broad principle of cultivating a right state of mind with regard to these problems that confront us [Applause).
MR. A. LEO Weil: The organization which we have in Pittsburgh, the Voters' League, seems to be doing both constructive work between times, and passing upon the candidates when they appear upon the respective nominations of the respective parties for office; we have not found any difficulties from adopting both plans.
Our League perhaps is known more particularly by the aggressive action we have taken at different times with reference to councilmen