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BY THE FORUM PUBLISHING COMPANY.
THE PUBLISHERS' PRINTING COMPANY
82, 84 LAFAYETTE PLACE
SIX political organizations have nominated a Presidential and VicePresidential ticket for the campaign of 1904. These nominations are as follows:
REPUBLICAN-Theodore Roosevelt, of New York, and Charles W. Fairbanks, of
DEMOCRATIC-Alton B. Parker, of New York, and Henry G. Davis, of West
POPULIST-Thomas E. Watson, of Georgia, and Thomas E. Tibbles, of Nebraska. PROHIBITIONIST-Dr. Silas C. Swallow, of Pennsylvania, and George W. Carroll,
SOCIALIST-Eugene V. Debs, of Illinois, and Benjamin Hanford, of New York. SOCIALIST LABOR-Charles H. Corregan, of New York, and William W. Cox, of Illinois.
While it is true that the conditions which existed four years ago were entirely different from those which prevail during the present campaign, it may be worth while, as a matter of convenience, to present the aggregate of the popular vote cast at the last election for the candidates named by these six political parties as follows:
It must be borne in mind, of course, that the vote thus shown for the Populist candidates four years ago does not by any means represent the true strength of that party in the United States. The Democrat
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Populist combination in 1896 and 1900 was most effective; and Mr. Bryan, as the candidate of both parties, received practically all of the million votes which, in 1892, had been given to James B. Weaver, of Iowa. Where will these votes be cast on the 8th of next November? The question is one which, if accurately answered at this writing, would solve the problem of the campaign. Will the Populists, disgruntled with the outcome of the St. Louis convention, return to their old allegiance? Their campaign is certainly most active. Ex-Representative Watson, their Presidential nominee, is a shrewd, able, and persistent worker, and he not only has intimate knowledge of the Populist mind, but a large personal following as well. In selecting New York as the place to receive the formal notification of his nomination, he carried the war into the enemy's country; and it is noticeable that his attack upon the Democratic party for having surrendered to the moneyed interests was given wide circulation and indorsement in Mr. Hearst's "American," a newspaper which is to the laboring classes what the Bible is to the Christian. Mr. Watson, in his own State of Georgia, is addressing very large and enthusiastic audiences along lines which, four and eight years ago, were in harmony with the Democratic platform.
If, with all his efforts, Mr. Watson can induce the Populists to support him, the consequent defection from the Democratic ranks would, in my opinion, be larger than any gain which might result from the return to the party of those Democrats who, believing in the gold standard and objecting to association with a radical element, deserted Bryan in 1896 and 1900. Every one knows, of course, that the votes cast for Palmer and Buckner, aggregating 133,148, did not represent the Democratic disaffection, for a very large number of Democrats voted the Republican ticket outright. It is yet to be determined whether a goodly proportion of these Democrats will remain this year in the Republican party. It is yet uncertain also whether many Republicans will, for one cause or another, prefer to vote for Judge Parker rather than President Roosevelt. In fact, the more the situation is analyzed, the greater is the reason for appreciating the uncertainty which prevails in the headquarters of the two leading parties. The campaigns of 1896 and 1900 created such wide breaches in the organizations, party lines were so disrupted, and such unique conditions resulted, that readjustment is not an easy matter.
Not only is it true that there is an unusually large number of insoluble factors in the contest, but it is also a fact that, although the
campaign is now within a few weeks of its conclusion, the country exhibits only the most languid interest in its progress. So far as the voters are concerned, there is no anxiety and comparatively little curiosity as to the outcome. They are apathetic, listless, and indifferent. They realize that, no matter what the result may be, the country will not be wrecked and ruined. There is no widespread feeling of real alarm, such as prevailed in 1896. The apprehension of danger is entirely absent; and thus with election day almost at hand, no absorbing interest is anywhere manifested. Although the nominating conventions were held in June and July, the month of September arrived before there was much more than a ripple on the surface of political affairs. Into Maine and Vermont, where early elections were held, the campaign managers threw a generous supply of spellbinders; but the noise of their oratory and the glare of the accompanying red fire were not heard or seen outside of the State boundaries. The almost universal apathy was fully appreciated by those who have undertaken the management of the campaign, and they announced that the latter would be of brief duration; stating, in so many words, that, while there might be some preliminary skirmishing, the actual fighting would not commence until October, some four or five weeks before election day. Republican leaders profess to find in this indifference a satisfaction with existing conditions which betokens Republican victory; while the Democrats argue that a lack of interest on the part of the voters always operates to the disadvantage of the party in power. Both assertions are plausible; and only the announcement of the result in November will determine which is correct.
One reason for the absence of popular concern is the confidence which is reposed in President Roosevelt and in Judge Parker; but another, and still more potent, reason is the fact that the issues between the two leading political parties are not sharply defined. In 1896 and 1900 the financial policies of the Republican and Democratic parties were as far apart as the two poles; while in 1892 and 1888 their positions on the tariff were equally distinct, the Republicans advocating the highest degree of protection and the Democrats boldly espousing the cause of free trade. This year, however, the independent voter whose mind is influenced by principles is nonplussed. Both parties are pledged to the maintenance of the gold standard, the one in its platform utterance and the other through the declaration of its Presidential candidate. Both express an abhorrence of trusts and kindred monopolies; both declare for honest and economical government; both indorse the Isthmian Canal.
When the question comes to the consideration of the tariff, there is by no means the diametric opposition of former years. The Republican party, even with its "stand-pat" doctrine, has learned that there is danger in upholding the principle of protection in its extreme, and assures us that needed reforms will be granted; while the Democratic platform, denouncing protectionism as a robbery of the many to enrich the few, does not hint at free trade, but is careful to assert that the proposed reduction of the tariff will be gradual, thus quieting the natural apprehension that the equilibrium of the commercial world may be too suddenly and disastrously disarranged.
Nor is there a vital difference respecting a Philippine policy. In his address accepting the nomination, President Roosevelt said that the Philippine Islands were now governed by Americans, assisted by Filipinos. "We are steadily striving," he declared, "to transform this into self-government by the Filipinos, assisted by Americans." In discussing the same subject in his speech of acceptance, Judge Parker remarked that the United States should not disregard the responsibility which brought the Philippines into our possession, "but," he continued, “that responsibility will be best subserved by preparing the islanders as rapidly as possible for self-government and giving to them the assurance that it will come as soon as they are reasonably prepared for it." Thus, the leaders of both parties are pledged to ultimate self-government for the Filipinos; and the only point wherein they differ is that, from Judge Parker's point of view, the Filipinos ought to be given immediate assurance of it.
Not only is the money question settled and retired from the field of political agitation, but a Republican Senate will stand during the next four years as a barrier to any hostile tariff legislation which might emanate from a possible Democratic House of Representatives or be suggested by a possible Democratic President. With no danger threatening the national finances, with the tariff protected against assault, and with no serious minor issues to be considered, it is not remarkable that so little interest is manifested in the campaign. Even the Democrats appreciate that, so far as the tariff and the trusts are concerned, a vote for their national candidates cannot be more than an expression of opinion, a mere ineffectual protest against conditions which they do not approve.
With this situation confronting the country there is no necessity for a long campaign, and the announcement of a brief contest has been accepted with general satisfaction. Business interests do not