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safely on friendly shores. Even supposing candidatures to be inordinately multiplied, the room for wise choice can hardly be said to be so curtailed as to provoke lengthy doubt or impel to disastrous mistake.
And this is particularly true because in all the outcrops of the present campaign thus far, the matter of mere men has been subordinated to the matter of measures. Considering the earnestness of all, the magnitude of measures, the solemnity of the political situation, what we as a people of workers and business are to escape, what to remedy, what to confront, there is no good reason to suppose that campaign beginnings do not exactly reflect their endings, and that the final verdict will be the proclamation of a much needed and desirable result.
This displacement of leaders, especially the candidates, by the measures they represent, happily leaves little provocation for vulgar, personal politics. All must remember with humiliation the indecent opening of the campaign of 1884. For weeks, and even months, it was a game of personal sharpshooting, an occasion of revilement, a fiery furnace of character attacks and defences, most degrading to party honor and despicable in the eyes of individuals whatever their political predilections. Such an exhibition cannot be repeated now, if ever. Candidates are not standing for more than measures. In this, as very likely in all the political battles of the near future, it is hardly probable that voters will permit an overthrow of their deliberative mood, and an eclipse of issues at stake, by halting to indulge in the vile tactics of personalism.
Honorable partisanship is the making of a campaign. As issues broaden and deepen, their very solemnity smoothes the rough and acerb edges of partisanship, gives it healthy tone, adapts it to the high and noble work of clear, fair, truthful statement, and calm, deliberative, forceful defence. The true partisan becomes the best of political school-teachers. He may be the statesman of the hour, the leader of the future. This campaign is prolific of opportunities for that class of partisans who have honest convictions, fearless natures, clear judgments, fair spirits and gifted expression. The partisan of only heated words, loud expletives, false assertions, specious logic and idle promises, will find himself without a mission, or ought to so find himself, at a time when dispassionate discussions should rule the hour and when all bitterness and falsehood' should be at lowest discount. The orator of this grandest of all political occasions, a presidential election, will have before him such an audience as he never before addressed. It will be a large audience, for the masses are in motion; a critical audience, for the masses are inquiring; a studious audience, for the masses are thinking; a subdued audience, for the masses are not in jubilee humor, but in grimly defiant mood. A forcible fact is going to avail far more than a pyrotechnic spurt. Vituperative thunder is going to addle very few brains. Sophistical balloons will find themselves punctured ere they reach a floating medium. There may be localities in which all this will prove an exception, but they will be few and wide apart. There may be men foolish enough, or ignorant enough, to rely for argument and effort on sarcasm, bitterness, vituperation and deceit, but they will certainly look in vain for spirited applause or sincere converts.
The activities and energies of the campaign can hardly fail to prove variegated and interesting. What will be lacking in the spectacular will be made up in that assiduity of speech and competitive vigor of work which the political situation demands. The crisis warrants a "campaign of education" in the highest and most diversified sense. The issues seek enlargement, require emphasis. Campaign agency must prove vigorous and untiring, energy, restless and persevering, devotion, sincere and uncompromising.
National questions were never more national. So the popular verdict should be all the more dispassionate. This campaign and election should emphasize the era which notes the final departure of all dishonorable means for securing political victories.
This campaign, as it surges along, makes rapid headway toward the two only issues that the past few years have rendered logical and inevitable. The sweep of events has been so magnificent and irresistible as to crush out of sight party questions of minor moment, and to subordinate all lesser political differences to those of supreme magnitude. Ever since 1887, there existed a determination on the part of those who passed as tariff reformers to wage relentless war upon the existing economic system of the country. In the national battle of 1888 they suffered signal defeat. Not daunted, however, they reopened the war more vigorously than ever, and in the national engagement of 1892 they scored a significant triumph, which they speedily put to use by overthrowing the tariff system of 1890, and introducing that quite opposite system of 1894.
For reasons of whose accuracy everyone must be left to judge for himself, the country was dissatisfied with a regime so opposite to that which had been overthrown, and so full of melancholy contrasts with it. This dissatisfaction was made manifest in the State elections ot 1893. In the Congressional elections of 1894, it assumed the proportions of emphatic protest, and the political situation was entirely reversed. In 1895 the verdicts of disapproval were still stronger. Democracy lost in its very strongest holds.
Here, then, was a full three year trend toward a culmination which was unavoidable in 1896. No matter what politicians, economists and parties thought, as to the propriety of a battle royal, in 1896, over the tariff issue, the voters themselves had seemingly determined in advance that the time was opportune for them to recast their judgment of 1892. Thus there was no escape in 1896, from the issue that had not been allowed to rest for three years. There must be another trial of strength over a question so vital to national welfare and so intimately woven with individual prosperity. In all the preliminaries of the campaign of 1896, throughout all its earliest stages, the parties looked to such a trial as inevitable and braced themselves for it. But the tariff was not to be an issue merely ; it was to be the main issue. Nothing could eclipse it in importance. It meant meat, clothing and shelter for toilers. It meant revived industry, living wages, an era of restored prosperity and happiness, where all was idleness, poverty and discontent. This on the one hand; on the other hand it meant for those who saw in the tariff of 1894 the culmination of anti-protectionism an opportunity to confirm the wisdom of the doctrine they had carried to triumph in 1892, and had so fully and energetically incorporated into our economic system. They could not but be eager to repeat that triumph, for then the tariff policy of the country would be fixed in their favor for a generation at least.
But while the parties with their banners were thus lining up for the tariff fray, there came upon them a diversion which quite transfixed them for a time at least. It could not be said to have come suddenly nor unexpectedly, but its fervor manner and force were so overwhelming as to carry with it a sense of shock, if not dismay. The question of free silver coinage was an old one, and one which had been made familiar by its especial champion, Mr. Bland. It had been made a cardinal doctrine by the People's, or Populist, party in their platform of 1892, and had been stoutly advocated on the stump wherever that party exercised its campaign energies. With the spread of Populism in the West and South, it became more and more a party tenet, and its advocates in both Democratic and Repub lican ranks made it stronger with themselves than their party allegiance. They used it in the Fifty-fourth Congress as a foil to the legislation which the House had passed, the condition being that no legislation of moment should be completed by the Senate unless it bore the free silver coinage stamp.
Statesmen and publicists of both the leading parties felt that a grave political error had been committed in 1892 by Mr. Cleveland's party managers in seeking alliances with the Populists in the Western States. They were warned by the most astute minds in the Democratic party that such alliances would prove troublesome, it not fatal. But they adhered to their purpose, feeling that all was fair in politics, that the Republicans could receive no harder blow, and trusting to Mr. Cleveland's power to hold all that would be gained to strict party allegiance, and mould all to the dominant party will.
It took but little time to ascertain that these alliances had given an impetus to the free silver coinage sentiment, which threaten to sweep Democracy from its