Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 52.djvu/141

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EDITOR'S TABLE.

they hope, will go better ever afterward. We are not sure that there is not some illusion in this. No monarch ever placed himself on his throne by his own unaided action; and no boss ever acquired his position by the sole exertion of his own will. The origin of the boss, as we take it, is this: Government with all its powers being thrown into the hands of the people, there arises a keen struggle as to who shall wield those powers and enjoy such advantages as may be incident thereto. Such a struggle necessarily develops into a faction fight; and where there is fighting there must be organization for fighting purposes. The boss is the leader of the faction, the man who surveys with a comprehensive eye the whole field of battle, who enforces discipline, who gives the word of command, who directs the campaign. The old saying that in the midst of arms laws must keep silent is verified in these political struggles. The place which ought to be filled by some competent man prepared to serve the public to the utmost of his ability has to be given to some one whose appointment will "strengthen the party"; and the party is understood to be strengthened when an important office is bestowed in such a manner as (1) to encourage party workers, and (2) to furnish funds for party uses. Neither in actual warfare nor in politics are battles won by discourses on moral philosophy. The boss engages to carry his party to victory, or to nurse its energies after defeat; and he must be allowed a large discretion as to the means to be used.

A little reflection, therefore, will make it clear that the only way to get rid of the boss is to do away with the necessity for his services. As long as he is wanted he will be there, and there is very little use in finding fault with him or with his methods. As well find fault with a general in the field for shelling a town in which the enemy have fortified themselves, or setting fire to standing grain, or doing any other of the thousand wasteful acts that characterize ordinary warfare. War is war the world over, and—bloodshed apart, which, however, may not be far in the background—political warfare has all the signs and characteristics of war in its murderous form. It is a matter of strategy. It involves waste of property, and gains its ends, whenever necessary, by ruse and deceit. The question how to get rid of the boss is merged, therefore, in the much wider one, how to get rid of the conflict that calls the boss into existence and invests him with dictatorial power.

There is but one way that we can see, and that is to persuade the electorate that appointments to office are not things to squabble about, and that, in so far as any man governs through his vote, he is bound to do it in the interest of the country at large. We are not enthusiastic enough to believe that such a change in public sentiment can be brought about in a short time. Still, we consider it important that the seat of the trouble should be distinctly recognized. So long as men are bent on fighting for the control of patronage it is vain to ask them to set aside the leaders upon whose talents for organization, strength of will, and general resourcefulness all their hopes of victory depend. The efforts of reformers should be bent, not on showing how many deplorable acts the different bosses are responsible for, and how little in general they consult the public interest in the exercise of their power, but in bringing home the responsibility for this whole condition of things upon the thousands of electors who never ascend to any correct view of their