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Political Dangers

Discussion in 'U.S. Politics' started by Old_Trapper70, Feb 10, 2018.

  1. Old_Trapper70

    Old_Trapper70 Well-Known Member

    Dec 17, 2014
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    This is an article I found some years ago, and recently came across in my printout pile. How much of it is relevant to today since it was originally written in 1883:


    "It is not merely positively, but negatively, that great aggregations of wealth, whether individual or corporate, tend to corrupt government and take it out of the control of the masses of the people. "Nothing is more timorous than a million dollars — except two million dollars." Great wealth always supports the party in power, no matter how corrupt it may be. It never exerts itself for reform, for it instinctively fears change. It never struggles against misgovernment. When threatened by the holders of political power it does not agitate, nor appeal to the people; it buys them off. It is in this way, no less than by its direct interference, that aggregated wealth corrupts government, and helps to make politics a trade. Our organized lobbies, both legislative and Congressional, rely as much upon the fears as upon the hopes of moneyed interests. When "business" is dull, their resource is to get up a bill which some moneyed interest will pay them to beat. So, too, these large moneyed interests will subscribe to political funds, on the principle of keeping on the right side of those in power, just as the railroad companies deadhead President Arthur when he goes to Florida to fish.

    [10] The more corrupt a government the easier wealth can use it. Where legislation is to be bought, the rich make the laws; where justice is to be purchased, the rich have the ear of the courts. And if, for this reason, great wealth does not absolutely prefer corrupt government to pure government, it becomes none the less a corrupting influence. A community composed of very rich and very poor falls an easy prey to whoever can seize power. The very poor have not spirit and intelligence enough to resist; the very rich have too much at stake.


    The people, of course, continue to vote; but the people are losing their power. Money and organization tell more and more in elections. In some sections bribery has become chronic, and numbers of voters expect regularly to sell their votes. In some sections large employers regularly bulldoze their hands into voting as they wish. In municipal, State and Federal politics the power of the "machine" is increasing. In many places it has become so strong that the ordinary citizen has no more influence in the government under which he lives than he would have in China. He is, in reality, not one of the governing classes, but one of the governed. He occasionally, in disgust, votes for "the other man," or "the other party;" but, generally, to find that he has effected only a change of masters, or secured the same masters under different names. And he is beginning to accept the situation, and to leave politics to politicians, as something with which an honest, self-respecting man cannot afford to meddle.

    [15] We are steadily differentiating a governing class, or rather a class of Pretorians, who make a business of gaining political power and then selling it. The type of the rising party leader is not the orator or statesman of an earlier day, but the shrewd manager, who knows how to handle the workers, how to combine pecuniary interests, how to obtain money and to spend it, how to gather to himself followers and to secure their allegiance. One party machine is becoming complementary to the other party machine, the politicians, like the railroad managers, having discovered that combination pays better than competition. So rings are made impregnable and great pecuniary interests secure their ends no matter how elections go. There are sovereign States so completely in the hands of rings and corporations that it seems as if nothing short of a revolutionary uprising of the people could dispossess them. Indeed, whether the General Government has not already passed beyond popular control may be doubted. Certain it is that possession of the General Government has for some time past secured possession. And for one term, at least, the Presidential chair has been occupied by a man not elected to it. This, of course, was largely due to the crookedness of the man who was elected, and to the lack of principle in his supporters. Nevertheless, it occurred."
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2018

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