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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/620

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

and of every other question that threatens the slightest party division. Again, questions are kept to the front that have no more vitality than the dust of C├Žsar. Long after the civil war the issues of that contest formed the stock in trade of the politicians and enabled them to win many a battle that should have been fought on other grounds. If need be, the grossest falsehoods are embodied in the platform, and proclaimed as the most sacred tenets of party faith.

When the campaign opens, the ethics of the platform assume a more violent and reprehensible shape. Not only are its hypocrisies and falsehoods repeated with endless iteration, but they are multiplied like the sands of the beach. Very few, if any, editors or orators pretend to discuss questions or candidates with perfect candor and honesty. Indeed, very few of them are competent to discuss them. Hence sophistry and vilification take the place of knowledge and reason. Were one party to adopt the Decalogue for a platform, the other would find nothing in it to praise; it would be an embodiment of socialism, or anarchism, or some other form of diabolism. If one party were to nominate a saint, the other would paint him in colors that Satan himself would hardly recognize. Not even such men as Washington and Lincoln are immune to the assaults of political hatred and mendacity. As the campaign draws to a close, we have a rapidly increasing manifestation of all the worst traits of human nature. In times of quiet, a confessed knave would scarcely be guilty of them. False or garbled quotations from foreign newspapers are issued. The old Cobden Club, just ready to give up the ghost, is galvanized into the most vigorous life, and made to do valiant service as a rich and powerful organization devoted to the subversion of American institutions. Stories like Clay's sale of the presidency are invented, and letters, like the Morey letter, are forged, and, despite the most specific denials of their truth, they are given the widest currency. Other forms of trickery, like the Murchison letter, written by the British minister during Mr. Cleveland's second campaign, are devised with devilish ingenuity, and made to contribute to the pressing and patriotic work of rescuing the country from its enemies.

But this observation of the ethics of war does not stop with the close of the polls, where bribery, intimidation, and fraud are practiced, and the honest or dishonest count of the ballots that have been cast; it is continued with the same infernal industry in the work of legislation and administration. Upon the meeting of the statesmen that the people have chosen under "the most perfect system of government ever devised by man," what is the first thing that arrests their attention and absorbs their energies? More intriguing, bargaining, and bribery in a hundred forms, more or less subtle, to secure election and appointment to positions within the gift of the legis-