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The Game Of Politics
by [?]

I.

IF ONE were to declare himself a Democrat or a Republican and the claim should be contested he would find it a difficult one to prove. The missing link in his chain of evidence would be the major premise in the syllogism necessary to the establishment of his political status–a definition of “Democrat” or “Republican.” Most of the statesmen in public and private life who are poll-parroting these words, do so with entire unconsciousness of their meaning, or rather without knowledge that they have lost whatever of meaning they once had. The words are mere “survivals,” marking dead issues and covering allegiances of the loosest and most shallow character. On any question of importance each party is divided against itself and dares not formulate a preference. There is no question before the country upon which one may not think and vote as he likes without affecting his standing in the political communion of saints of which he professes himself a member. “Party lines” are as terribly confused as the parallels of latitude and longitude after a twisting earthquake, or those aimless lines representing the competing railroad on a map published by a company operating “the only direct route.” It is not probable that this state of things can last; if there is to be “government by party”–and we should be sad to think that so inestimable a boon were soon to return to Him who gave it–men must begin to let their angry passions rise and take rides. “Ill fares the land to hastening ills a prey,” where the people are too wise to dispute and too good to fight. Let us have the good old political currency of bloody noses and cracked crowns; let the yawp of the demagogue be heard in the land; let ears be pestered with the spargent cheers of the masses. Give us a whoop-up that shall rouse us like a rattling peal of thunder. Will nobody be our Moses–there should be two Moseses–to lead us through this detestable wilderness of political stagnation?

II.

Nowhere “on God’s green earth”–it is fitting, that this paper contain a bit of bosh–nowhere is so much insufferable stuff talked in a given period of time as in an American political convention. It is there that all those objectionable elements of the national character which evoke the laughter of Europe and are the despair of our friends find freest expression, unhampered by fear of any censorship more exacting than that of “the opposing party”–which takes no account of intellectual delinquencies, but only of moral. The “organs” of the “opposing party” will not take the trouble to point out–even to observe–that the “debasing sentiments” and “criminal views” uttered in speech and platform are expressed in sickening syntax and offensive rhetoric. Doubtless an American politician, statesman, what you will, could go into a political convention and signify his views with simple, unpretentious common sense, but doubtless he never does.

Every community is cursed with a number of “orators”–men regarded as “eloquent”–“silver tongued” men–fellows who to the common American knack at brandishing the tongue add an exceptional felicity of platitude, a captivating mastery of dog’s-eared sentiment, a copious and obedient vocabulary of eulogium, an iron insensibility to the ridiculous and an infinite affinity to fools. These afflicting Chrysostoms are always lying in wait for an “occasion” It matters not what it is: a “reception” to some great man from abroad, a popular ceremony like the laying of a corner-stone, the opening of a fair, the dedication of a public building, an anniversary banquet of an ancient and honorable order (they all belong to ancient and honorable orders) or a club dinner–they all belong to clubs and pay dues. But it is in the political convention that they come out particularly strong. By some imperious tradition having the force of written law it is decreed that in these absurd bodies of our fellow citizens no word of sense shall be uttered from the platform; whatever is uttered in set speeches shall be addressed to the meanest capacity present As a chain can be no stronger than its weakest link, so nothing said by the speakers at a political convention must be above the intellectual reach of the most pernicious idiot having a seat and a vote. I don’t know why it is so. It seems to be thought that if he is not suitably entertained he will not attend, as a delegate, the next convention.