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Chapter XXVIII.


Events of the Session of 1909 Show That Before Any Effective Reform Can Be Brought About in California, Good Government Republicans and Democrats Must Unite to Organize Senate and Assembly - Appointment of Senate Committees May Be Taken Out of the Hands of the Lieutenant-Governor.

In the opening chapter it was stated that the machine element in the Legislature of 1909, although in the minority, defeated the purposes of the reform majority, because of three principal reasons:

(1) The reform element was without organization.

(2) The reform members had, except in the anti-racetrack gambling fight, no definite plan of action.

(3) The reform members of both Houses permitted the machine to name presiding officers and appoint committees.

This third reason must appeal to those who have read the foregoing pages as the most important of all. The story of every machine success, in face of opposition, is that of advantage gained through the moral support given by the presiding officers[105], or of co-operation of committees, or of both. But, unfortunately, a stupid partisanship - a partisanship which the machine finds far more potent than bribe money - makes this cause of machine success more difficult to overcome than either of the others. Already a movement is on foot, the details of which the writer is not at liberty to make public, that will unite the reform element of the next Legislature into a working body, from the day nominations are made. Steps to this end were taken before the last Legislature adjourned. In the same way, the work of bringing reform issues before the public - reform of the ballot laws, amendment of the Direct Primary law, the simplification of the mode of criminal procedure - is being taken up in the same effective, commonsense way as was the Anti-Racetrack Gambling bill. But here the progress of the commonsense element of machine opposition seems to halt. In spite of their experience of the last session, Democrats and Republicans who stand for good government hesitate at the suggestion of non-partisan organization of Senate and Assembly. The writer has shown in the foregoing chapters that the machine Republicans and the machine Democrats were for practical purposes a unit in the organization of the Legislature of 1909. Why, then, should not the anti-machine Republicans and the anti-machine Democrats unite for purposes of organization, just as they united, at the session of 1909, to oppose vicious measures and to work for the passage of good bills? That is a question which has never been satisfactorily answered. It leads us, however, to the question of the real line of division in Senate and Assembly, and, for that matter, in State politics[106].

That the real division is no longer between political parties, or even between party factions, is apparent to the observer who has given the question any attention at all.

Not once, for example, did the California Legislature of 1909 divide on a party question; nor did it have to deal with any problem that had not at one time or another been endorsed by both parties. Both Democrats and Republicans in either State or county platforms had declared for the passage of an Anti-Racetrack Gambling law, for an effective Direct Primary law, for an effective Railroad Regulation law, for the submission to the people of a Constitutional Amendment granting the people the privilege of initiating laws. In the same way, county conventions of both parties - and county conventions are the closest to the people and most representative of them - had declared for local option, for the election of United States Senators by direct vote of the people, for amendments to the codes that should simplify proceedings in criminal cases, for effective railroad regulation. Estimating the purposes of the two parties by their county and State platforms, none of these reforms can be regarded as any more Democratic than Republican, and these were the issues with which the Legislature of 1909 was called upon to deal.

A glance at the tables of votes in the appendix will show that the Assemblymen and the Senators who voted against the Anti-Racetrack Gambling bill, generally speaking, voted against the effective Stetson Railroad Regulation bill and for the ineffective Wright bill, opposed the provision in the Direct Primary bill giving the people an effective part in the selection of United States Senators, supported the passage of the Change of Venue bill, opposed the passage of the Local Option bill, opposed the submission of the Initiative amendment to the electors of the State. This negative element, opposed to policies which the normal citizen regards as making for the State's best interests, has in these pages been called the machine[107].

As has been shown in these pages, the interests of the several beneficiaries of the system are in effect pooled; one element helps the other. The managers of the several elements, the political agents, if you like, of the tenderloin, Southern Pacific, racetrack, and public-service monopolies generally; in a word, all who seek to evade the law or to secure undue special privileges or to continue secure in the possession of such privileges already secured, recognize that they must hang together or submit to a reckoning with the public, which must necessarily result in the breaking of the particular monopoly which each enjoys, be it in transportation, nickel-in-the-slot graft, or traffic in the bodies of young women. Should the political bureau of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company, for example, lose the support of the tenderloin, or of the racetrack gamblers, or of any other powerful group of its political associates, the corporation could no longer continue its strangle-hold upon the State. But none of its associates would dare thus offend. Such is the machine, which, in the name of a protective tariff, "sound money," Abraham Lincoln, or Theodore Roosevelt, has organized the Legislature of California for sixteen years. Previous to 1895, there were California Legislatures organized in the name of Thomas Jefferson. But the machine has not taken the name of Thomas Jefferson in vain in California for many years[108].

Nevertheless, although acting under the name Republican, the machine is quite as dependent upon "Democrats" as upon "Republicans," and as dependent upon either as upon the tenderloin, the brewery trust or the racetrack gambling element. It monopolizes neither party, but it divides both parties. Or it may be described as a canker that has eaten into both, diseased both, rendered both unwholesome, until a condition exists in the dominating parties that requires that the uncorrupted element of both unite to cut the diseased portion away[109].

As the machine divides the parties, so did it divide the Republican and Democratic delegations in the Senate and the Assembly of the California Legislature of 1909. Hare and Kennedy, for example, Democratic Senators, voted constantly with Wolfe and Leavitt, Republican Senators, for machine policies. Nor was the opposition restricted to party lines. Black and Boynton and Cutten, Republican Senators, were found voting constantly with Campbell and Holohan, Democratic Senators, against the machine. Between Black and Wolfe, Republicans, there was nothing in common during the entire session; nor was there anything in common between Campbell and Kennedy, Democrats. On practically every important issue, however, Kennedy, Democrat, and Wolfe, Republican, made common cause, while Black, Republican, and Campbell, Democrat, opposed them.

The same comparisons could be made in the Assembly, where such Democrats as Wheelan and Baxter were found with Mott and Coghlan, Republicans, supporting machine policies, while opposed to them were anti-machine Republicans of the character of Bohnett and Callan, and anti-machine Democrats like Polsley and Mendenhall.

Thus, for practical purposes, the Legislature can not be divided on party lines. The only practical line of division is between the machine element, and the anti-machine element. Such, at the session of 1909, was the division on every important issue; such will it be at the legislative session of 1911. Why should not the same division govern the organization of Senate and Assembly?

As a matter of fact, the machine disregards party lines even in organizing. In making up its committees it considers fealty to machine interests above party name. For example, Hare and Kennedy were the Democratic Senators who this year affiliated with the machine. Kennedy was appointed to practically every important committee, at least to those before which important fights were to be made. Thus we find him on the Committee on Commerce and Navigation, Contingent Expenses, Elections and Election Laws, Prisons and Reformatories, and Public Morals, Hare was appointed to the Committee on Commerce and Navigation, Elections and Election Laws, Labor, Capital and Immigration, Municipal Corporations, Printing, and Public Buildings and Grounds. In committees, as well as on the floor of the Senate, Hare and Kennedy were found as a general thing casting their influence and their votes on the side of machine policies.

Had the anti-machine Democrats and the anti-machine Republicans in Senate and Assembly, who worked together for the same ends and voted together on practically every important issue, taken the same course, and united for the organization of the two Houses, reform measures which were defeated by narrow margins would have been made laws, and machine measures which became laws defeated.

Such being the case, is it not the duty of the anti-machine Republicans and the anti-machine Democrats who may sit in the Legislature of 1911, to organize both Senate and Assembly to resist machine purposes and policies?

This can be done comparatively easily in the Assembly, where a movement to elect the Speaker such as was started by Drew of Fresno this year, if carried out, would take the Assembly out of machine hands. Although the organization of the Senate looks more difficult, because the Senate has no voice in the selection of its presiding officer, nevertheless, even though a Warren Porter occupy the post of Lieutenant-Governor, at the session of 1911 the reform element can elect its President pro tem., and appoint the Senate committees. In other words, a majority of the Senate, may if it see fit, take the appointing of the committees out of the hands of the Lieutenant-Governor.

There are two important precedents for this course, one established by a Democratic Senate; the other by a Republican Senate.

The Democratic precedent was established in 1887. In that year Robert W. Waterman, a Republican, was Lieutenant-Governor and presiding officer of the Senate. The Senate was made up of twenty-six Democrats and fourteen Republicans. The Democratic majority organized the Senate under the following rule, which will be found in the Senate journal of that session:

"All Committees of the Senate, special and standing, and all joint Committees on the part thereof, shall be elected by the Senate unless otherwise ordered."

The Republican precedent was made in 1897. In that year, William T. Jeter, a Democrat, was Lieutenant-Governor, while a majority of the Senators were Republicans. Instead of leaving the appointing of the committees to the Democratic Lieutenant-Governor, the Republican Senators adopted a rule that "all standing committees of the Senate shall be named by the Senate, unless otherwise ordered, and the first named shall be chairman thereof. All other committees shall be appointed in such manner as the Senate shall determine."

In other words, the Republican majority of the Senate named the Senate committees of the session of 1897, taking their appointment out of the hands of the Lieutenant-Governor as the Democrats had done ten years before. There is no good reason why the members of the anti-machine majority in the Senate should not have taken the same course in 1909, and named the committees. Had they done so, and named the President pro tem., they would have organized the Senate in the interest of those policies in advancing which they were soon in open revolt against Lieutenant-Governor Porter, the machine Senators and the machine lobby. Failing to do so, they placed themselves under a handicap which they were unable to overcome.

The reform element of the Legislature of 1911 will have in the experience of the reform element of the session of 1909, an important lesson. And The People of California, who will elect that Legislature, have a lesson as important. The successes of the machine at the session of 1909, where a clear majority of both Houses opposed machine policies, demonstrated that the well-being of the State requires that the opponents of the machine in Senate and Assembly, regardless of party label, organize the Legislature. But back of this is the even more important requirement that there be elected to the Legislature American citizens, with the responsibility of their citizenship upon them, rather than partisans, burdened until their good purposes are made negative, by the responsibility of their partisanship.

[105] See, for example, Speaker Stanton's ruling on the Direct Primary bill when the Assembly was considering the question of receding from its amendments.

[106] The machine recognizes the real division, if the reform element does not. The machine, for example, calls itself Republican, and as such controls the patronage of the San Francisco water front. The appointments to water front jobs are, of course, partisan, but the writer is reliably informed that as many "Democrats" as "Republicans" are employed there. Senators Hare and Kennedy, we have seen, although Democrats, got appointments to holdover committees. The machine recognizes but one line in politics, that which divides those who support machine policies from those who stand for good government and the square deal. When those who stand for good government and the square deal become as clear sighted, the fight against the machine will not be quite so unequal.

[107] The term "machine" is, as a general thing, rather lightly used. It is made to stand for everything, from what might be and should be perfectly legitimate party organization, to the Southern Pacific political bureau. The Southern Pacific political bureau is, as a matter of fact, the dominating factor in machine affairs, which gives some reason for dubbing the machine Southern Pacific. But it is nor more the Southern Pacific machine than it is the Tenderloin machine or the Racetrack gamblers' machine, or the United Railroads machine, or the Electric Power Trust machine.

[108] Bryce in his American Commonwealth, more than a quarter of a century ago, showed the hollowness of the contention of the machine element for arty consideration. "The interest of a Boss in political questions," said Bryce in one of his admirable chapters on this subject, "is usually quite secondary. Here and there one may be found and who is a politician in the European sense, who, whether sincerely or not, purports and professes to be interested in some principle or measure affecting the welfare of the country. But the attachment of the ringster is usually given wholly to the concrete party, that is, to the men who compose it, regarded as office-holders or office-seekers; and there is often not even a profession of zeal for any party doctrine. As a noted politician happily observed to a friend of mine: 'You know, Mr. R., there are no politics in politics.' "

[109] One has a wider view of this condition if he look out beyond the Sacramento Capitol, into the Senate Hall at Washington. The following is from an editorial article which appeared in the Saturday Evening Post, of June 12 last:

"The Iron trade is still in a depressed state. Output is much below the capacity of the mills, and prices have not recovered from the demoralization of early spring. Yet the other day the common stock of the Steel Trust sold higher than ever before. When issued, this common stock was rather thinner than water, and it represented mostly a capitalization of the Trust's tariff graft. At the new high price the market valuation of the graft, therefore, is some three hundred million dollars. A few days before this new high price was made, eighteen Democratic Senators voted with the Aldrich Republicans to take iron ore from the free list - where the House bill had put it - and protect it by a substantial duty. This action was generally regarded as insuring a continuation of the Trust's tariff graft. Hence a record price for the common stock was logical enough, although the iron trade was not exactly flourishing at the moment.

"Similar acts by Democratic Senators were denounced by President Cleveland as party perfidy and dishonor; but the regrettable fact is there is only one party in the United States Senate - just one party, with some scattering Republicans and Democratic Insurgents. For the purpose of getting elected and making stump speeches, different labels and catchwords are employed; but when it comes down to real business in the matter of taxing eighty-odd million users of iron and steel products for the benefit of an opulent trust, we find forty-three Republican Senators and eighteen Democratic Senators staunchly voting aye, against fourteen Republicans and ten Democrats who vote nay.

"With over half of the Democratic members of the Upper House fondly recording themselves as Little Brothers to Protection, there is slight danger that the tariff will be revised otherwise than by its friends."

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