In England the two main political parties, conservatives with tories, and liberals with radicals, are based on the same biological laws. But there is this difference - England's present parties arose in a firmly organized land, repeatedly conquered by invaders, where there was a minimum of democratic liberty. Our parties arose in an unorganized land where there was a max'mum of democratic liberty. Hence, our republican parties have been the innovators and radicals while the democrats have been the conservatives, checking the advances made by the organizing party; but in England the party corresponding to our democrats, the radicals or liberals, have been the innovators seeking more individual liberty, while the tories and conservatives, corresponding in their centralizing organizing tendency to our republicans, have been conservative, checking the advances made by the disorganizing party. While the English radicals have been working toward our original position of unbridled personal liberty at the expense of the powers of government upheld by the conservatives, our republicans have been working toward England's original position of great centralized authority at the expense of the liberty of the individual. In the course of time the English conservatives almost invariably cease opposition to a new liberal proposition and adopt it as a fixed national policy, and in course of time our democrats almost invariably cease opposition to a new republican policy and adopt it as a fixed national one. Each nation will in time reach the same middle point. Hence, we see a remarkable series of parallels in the two countries.
It is perfectly natural that our democrats and their liberals should be anti-expansionists because expansion is increasing the efficiency of the central power or organism and is undemocratic. Hence, the violent denunciation of their occupation of Egypt and our occupation of the Philippines came from the same source, liberal and democrat. Yet the liberal Gladstone, when in office, continued the Egyptian policy he had denounced when out of office. His denunciation was theoretically correct from a party standpoint, but practically wrong from a national one. Likewise, our democrats who violently denounce our Philippine venture, are technically correct, but if put into national control will no more dare to evacuate the Philippines than England dares to evacuate Egypt.
Liberals and democrats are opposed to standing armies and navies, except such as are necessary for defense, because they are liable to jeopardize personal liberty. Conservatives and republicans wish them increased to a point where they can secure personal liberty to all. Nevertheless, our democrats invariably consent to increases in military strength to protect the nation, and only recently the English radicals in power were compelled by the Balkan disturbance to increase both army and navy after frantically denouncing military expenses for years.
Liberals and democrats have always been for home rule, State rights, and colonial independence - republicans and conservatives for the opposite. The liberal program of colonial independence will always be checked by the conservative program of firm union between all parts of the British Empire through the surrender of parts of their independence. It was quite natural that the centralism of Great Britain should have ended slavery peacefully, but that in democratic America a bloody war was necessary. Since our democrats theoretically believed in personal freedom so great as to give us liberty to enslave others, they naturally believed that any race too low to resist slavery is unfit for citizenship. "Wherever there may exist a people incapable of being governed under American laws in consonance with the American Constitution, that people ought not to be a part of the American domain." Every place on earth can be governed by Aryan Americans under American laws in consonance with the American Constitution, because we have always been doing that very thing. All men under the American flag (whether voters or not), are now and will be forever "entitled to the protection of the institutions whose emblem the flag is".
Free trade is naturally the shibboleth of democrats here and in England. They demand liberty to do as they please. Tariff protection is a centralizing policy as it gives more aid to more people, and strengthens the nation at the expense of some of its units. Sometimes one policy is best and sometimes the other - matters known to every student of English history.
Naturally, the organizing tendency of the republicans should make of its national convention a well ordered, well organized machine, while that of the democrats, with a rare recent exception, is generally an organized unwieldy mass of units each resentful of any control. They are the epitome of the two biological laws of their existence.
It was natural that Jackson should inaugurate the "turn-the-rascals-out" policy of rotation in office, because that is democratic individualism like the old form of baseball, but a civil service of irremovable good specialists is necessarily an organizing republican plan, and like the new baseball, it is the opposite of rotation in office, and has come to stay.
The Gladstonian policy is that "any community which is in any way entitled to be called a nationality is entitled to work out its own salvation or damnation," and in America, "the democracy believes that the white man will have trouble enough to maintain in its full integrity the white man's civilization in all parts of his own country, and it is neither his duty nor his light to superimpose his civilization by force upon the brown man in the brown man's country." This essay shows that unless we do impose our civilization on the tropics, the brown men will suffer, and we will also.
It is quite natural for parties to shift sides on a question when it is a State or national matter. Democrats naturally object to any measure which increases a State's power at the expense of the people, yet they are champions of the State if there is a similar proposition to weaken it in favor of the central government.
A democrat also deserts his party temporarily when he realizes that a centralizing policy to be voted upon will reflexly help him or when a democratic policy will be disruptive. Hence, the phenomenon of republican successes in national elections at the very time there are democratic successes in local affairs.
The father of our democratic party and the greatest democrat America has produced, Thomas Jefferson, did not dare to introduce his principles into the centralizing government, for he knew they would disintegrate the nation. He has, therefore, been unjustly accused of inconsistency, dissimulation and even worse, but he was a wise President, looking after the interests of the mass. Yet before then, when in the opposition, he was defending the rights and powers of the unit. He was a free trader, but did not attack the tariff; he believed in paper currency, but did not introduce it, or attack the national banks; he objected to government purchase of land, yet he bought Louisiana and tried to buy Florida; he objected to governmental management of any enterprises, but as President he spoke of using surplus revenues on roads, canals and education.
The philosophy of William Jennings Bryan is ideally democratic, constantly striving for the individual, exalting his importance and advocating the reference of great questions to the people to decide. Curiously enough in pandering to the desires of the lower democratic elements, he constantly drifts into advocacy of the paternalism they always demand. It was generally said that his political philosophy did not differ much from the republican, but as a matter of fact they were diametrical opposites.
The war between the North and South was typical of the conflict of the two forces of organization. Many a democrat was compelled to fight for the union, for he saw - like Gladstone - that decentralization is fatal to national safety and reflexly fatal to the units themselves. The States, as independent units, would fall into the possession of Europe, one after another. Consequently, democratic units must be forced to combine, must be coerced for their own benefit - their principles are suicidal if unchecked. John C. Reed* is the first one to recognize the natural laws at the basis of our civil strife.
* "The Brother's War".