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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 84.djvu/542

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The Current Trend of Affairs

NO one in this generation has expressed the idealism of the American people as well as Mr. Roosevelt in his best moments. Speaking at Jamestown, Virginia, he said:

The corner stone of the Republic lies in our treating each man on his worth as a man, paying no heed to his creed, his birthplace or his occupation, asking not whether he is rich or poor, whether he labors with head or hand; asking only whether he acts decently and honorably in the various relations of his life, whether he behaves well to his family, to his neighbors, to the state.

In the pursuit of this ideal, the present era of reform is beset with five difficulties. The first is the difficulty that arises from flattering the intelligence of the common man. A political order in which every man has one vote irrespective of his intelligence encourages the erroneous idea that one man knows as much as another, and makes the employment of the scientific expert appear to be a waste of the public money. Many a man who has clearly demonstrated his> incapacity to manage his own affairs feels entirely competent to run the much more complicated affairs of the state and the nation.

Nothing pleases the average mortal more than an assurance that his abilities would have qualified him to do something else much better. It gives him such a comfortable sense of completeness and versatility. Convince a curate that he would have made a capital buccaneer, and he will break most of the commandments for you. A man of science, persuaded that his first-rate abilities for the practical work of the world are wasted for lack of outlet, is as wax in the hands of the persuader.[1]

The second is the difficulty of distinguishing between reformers that are genuine and those that are fakes. According to scriptural writ, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven." Neither is every measure labeled "progressive" necessarily what it pretends to be. When some profess to be conservatives and others profess to be progressives, it is difficult enough to tell which is which, but when practically every one claims to be a reformer it is doubly difficult to draw the line between the quack nostrums of pretenders and well-meaning but unbalanced reformers, on the one hand,

  1. Hartley Withers, op. cit., p. 66.