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The Spirit of American Government (John Harvard Library)


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Publisher:Belknap Press, 1965



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Excerpt: and support the party boss is indebted for his continuance in power. 157 To accomplish these ends it is necessary Pg 217 to give the party an internal organization adapted to its real, though not avowed, purpose. The people must not be allowed to use the party as a means of giving clear and definite expression to public opinion concerning the questions wherein the interests of the general public are opposed to the various private interests which support the party machine. For a strong popular sentiment well organized and unequivocally expressed could not be lightly disregarded, even though without constitutional authority to enforce its decrees. To ensure successful minority rule that minority must control those agencies to which the people in all free countries are accustomed to look for an authoritative expression of the public will. The party machine can not serve the purpose of those interests which give it financial support and at the same time allow the people to nominate its candidates and formulate its political creed. Nevertheless, the semblance of popular control must be preserved. The outward appearance of the party organization, the external forms which catch the popular eye, must not reveal too clearly the secret methods and cunningly devised arrangements by which an effective minority control is maintained over the nomination of candidates and the framing of party platforms. The test of fitness for office is not fidelity to the rank and file of the Pg 218 people who vote the party ticket, but subserviency to those interests which dominate the party machine. The choice of candidates is largely made in the secret councils of the ruling minority and the party conventions under color of making a popular choice of candidates merely ratify the minority choice already made. Popular elections under such a system do not necessarily mean that the people have any real power of selecting public officials. They merely have the...

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