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power. The greatest progress has been made in New York and Brooklyn, and notably in the latter, by giving to the mayor the full power of appointment to office, without confirmation by the aldermen, and by establishing single headed departments in the place of boards or commissions. The danger seems now of erring in the other direction, and of failing to guard this increase of power by a corresponding increase of responsibility. Hon. Seth Low, the greatly respected ex-mayor of Brooklyn, has stated in a public address that the functions of the board of aldermen have been gradually reduced till there is hardly anything left for them to do. This may be said to be a serious political mistake, because the action of a legislature is just as important as that of the executive, and almost as necessary for guarding against abuse of power.
Here we are confronted by the question, What is executive and what legislative power? All our political doctrines are based upon the separation of powers, but it is difficult to point to any line drawn between them. Thus the Constitution of Massachusetts says with great emphasis:
ARTICLE XXX. In the government of this commonwealth, the legislative department shall never exercise the executive and judicial powers or either of them: the executive shall never exercise the legislative \ and judicial powers or either of them: the judicial shall never exercise the legislative and executive powers or either of them: to the end that it may be a government of laws and not of men.
Yet it nowhere lays down any working definition of the powers as to which it is so solemn in its injunctions. The division is, therefore, practically left to the legislature, which does not fail, in accordance with the principles above indicated, to appropriate the lion's share. The people see and know but very little of the governor, who never addresses them directly, unless in the formal speeches of occasions of ceremony; and they see still less of the judiciary. It is the legislature which fills the public eye, and poses as the guide, philosopher and friend. As we have seen, a legislature is
always disposed to take possession of the government. We find further, that every opportunity is given to it for doing so. That it has done so, in every case, with the exception of the cities mentioned, is the gravest political fact with which the country has to deal.
Without any ambitious pretence of settling principles of jurisprudence, we may be permitted, for the purposes of this paper, to establish boundaries of the two powers. The first business of the executive is to carry on the government, to attend to the administration of police, roads, schools, charities, prisons, etc., and to be responsible for it. There will probably be no dispute about that. It is for the legislature to make the law, for the judiciary to interpret it, and for the executive to carry it into effect. But that this may be done it is necessary that whatever laws are made should be adapted to their purpose. If they are contradictory to each other, or omit necessary provisions, they cannot be administered at all. If they are framed with a view to private interest, or with any other purpose than promoting the public welfare, then the executive will fail in its duty of attending to that welfare.
In every business enterprise of private life, the agent who is to carry it on expects to make his own rules subject to the approval of his owners, or if he accepts their rules, to ask for such amendment as he thinks necessary. No directors or owners would think of making rules, unless such as were established and tested by long experience, without the intervention of the manager. The guidance and the conduct of legislation is therefore just as much executive work as administration itself. It is the part of the executive to submit such projects of law as it thinks to be necessary for | the conduct of administration, and to ask at once for the law and the means of administering it. It is for the legislature to discuss and accept or reject those laws and to grant or refuse the money which they involve. Under our present methods, not only is the executive excluded from proposing
laws at all, but the power is open to every individual member of the legislature, and any one of 200 or 300 men can, if he pleases, propose as many laws on as many different subjects. It is evident, therefore, if we take only one point of view, that such laws will not be adapted to the wants of administration, in which members are not directly interested, and for which they are not at all responsible, but to meet the pressure of private and local interests among their constituents. And this brings us to a very delicate question. By the vast mass of our people the executive veto is regarded as the palladium of our liberties, and to question its value is like questioning the authority of Scripture to a Calvinist of the strictest type. And yet, if one thinks of it, does it not seem the height of absurdity that the head of a complex administration should have no power with regard to rules except to say what he does not want? That he should be obliged to wait until 200 or 300 men, under pressure of a great many powerful motives besides the wants of administration, can agree as to what they would like, and then be limited to saying whether or not it will meet the public necessity, his objection being after all of no avail, if an increased proportion of the body insists upon forcing its will upon him? It is often remarked that the veto in Great Britain has never been exerted since the reign of Queen Anne. In fact the veto is applied more or less, every year, not indeed by the executive, but by parliament to which it properly belongs. At least in measures of public interest, the initiative of legislation should be entirely with the executive, and not with members of the legislature. This does not imply any increase of power in the former, as no measure could be passed and no money appropriated without full discussion and explained vote of the legislature, in fact to a much greater degree than now; nor would anything prevent members either singly or by majority from urging the executive to bring forward measures upon any particular subject. What it would prevent would be the bringing forward any
number of measures upon any number of subjects, all at the same time, with no official precedence among them, and of which the fate must depend upon compromise, lobbying and intrigue.
Another element in the defence of executive power against encroachments of the legislature is due subordination and dis- 1 cipline in the ranks of administration. In New York, by the constitution of 1877, as in Massachusetts, the chief officers of the State, the secretary of State, the comptroller, the treasurer and the attorney-general are elected by the people, separately from the governor. He has, therefore, no control over them, as they have none over each other. Administration under such conditions is simply impossible. There is a general conviction that this separate election by the people is the true democratic method. If, by that phrase, we mean giving effect to the will of the people and securing good government for them, nothing can be more undemocratic. What it really does, is to secure the perquisites of office for active politicians, to make the executive offices subject to the same conditions as seats in the legislature, regardless of the effect upon administration, and to make the executive officials the obedient instruments of party managers in the legislature; which, indeed, is in the eyes of that body the true democratic theory of government. In a really democratic system there should be one executive head, with every subordinate, appointed by and responsible to him, so that the people can approve or reject, can maintain or change the results of administration by simply changing the head. The deadlock of administration, resulting from separate elective offices, has been met in a curious way; to some extent in nearly all the States, but in none, perhaps, so much as in Massachusetts. The legislature has proceeded to set up a number of commissions, and in defiance of the constitution to hand over to them the whole of the executive government except that portion which it has thought fit itself to retain. Notwithstanding the supposed democratic importance of separate election, these
commissions are filled by the appointment of the governor, though to neutralize this terrible power and to keep the firm political grip upon them, both appointments and removals are made subject to confirmation by a majority of the senate, or in Massachusetts, of the executive council, as thoroughly a political body as the legislature itself. Moreover, these commissions are renewable by one member each year, so that in case of those having five or more members, no governor has ever appointed more than a bare majority and that after two or three years of office. All their methods and duties are prescribed by the legislature, so that the governor has really no more control over them than over the other State officers. They are impersonal, act in secret and are responsible neither to the governor, nor the legislature, nor the people, about as undemocratic a system as it is possible to imagine, its one merit in the eyes of the legislature being, that it is beyond any independent control by the executive, while perfectly available as an instrument for political purposes by the legislature. It must be confessed that the evil of a bad system has been in the past largely corrected by placing the commissions in the hands of men of the highest character, who, without pay, without hope of gaining even reputation, have devoted themselves to the public service from a pure sense of duty. As the system has been developed, however, salaries have become attached to the places, while, as they are shielded from all responsibility, they can easily be used for illicit gain. For both reasons they are becoming an object of ambition to political workers, and as fast as these establish a foothold they will drive out the better class, who will, indeed, work hard for the public service without reward, but who will not bear the taint of evil deeds, which they cannot prevent, and of which they must be the accomplices. As Hon. Seth Low has truly said, "State commissions for any other purposes than enquiry are the most dangerous, of bodies because they exercise authority without responsibility."