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In these two respects the federal administration stands out sharply against those of the States and cities, in having one man in every place, and all appointed, down to the lowest position, directly from the president, who is the single member of the whole system holding his office by popular election. Two defects are, however, common to it with those of the States and cities, the confirmation of executive appointments by some legislative authority, and the exclusion of the executive from any voice in legislation. Almost equal to the reverence for the veto is the tenacity with which our people cling to the idea of confirmation of the appointments made by the president, governor or mayor by the senate, council' or aldermen. Yet, so far from being a security for good administration, it is almost certainly fatal to it. It deprives the executive at once of control over administration and of responsibility for it. It converts the legislature from critics of the executive power and from enforcing responsibility, into sharers of that power and diffusing and weakening responsibility. It compels the executive to make appointments, not with a view to the wants of government, but to those of members and the most influential of their constituents. It is the heaviest of all obstacles to civil service reform, as will readily appear from a review of the recent history of the United States Senate. As has been remarked, the greatest forward step which has been made, not only in city government, but in any government in this country since the adoption of the Federal constitution, was made in Brooklyn in 1880, when the full power of appointment was given to the mayor, without confirmation by anybody. This example was followed in New York in 1884, these two being the only instances, within my knowledge, throughout the whole United States, while even here the power of removal, which seems to be its necessary complement, was jealously withheld. No doubt, bad mayors have still been chosen in both cities, but it has been made much more clear who were good and who bad mayors, and has brought the responsibility
home to the people, except so far as other defects of organization have still obscured the problem. Moreover, it has made good mayors possible, which they were not when the best men were powerless to control administration, and must stand condemned before the whole city for bad government, which they were wholly unable to prevent. The removal of such a restriction is quite as important for the States as for the cities.
The most important of all the means of readjusting the balance between the powers is to give to the executive the same opportunity of pleading his cause and defending his rights before the people that the legislature has.
On the fourth of February, 1881, a committee of eight members of the United States unanimously recommended a bill as follows:
"That the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of War, the Secretary of the Navy, the Secretary of the Interior, the Attorney-General, and the Postmaster-General shall be entitled to occupy seats on the floor of the Senate and House of Representatives, with the right to participate in debate on matters relating to the business of their respective departments, under such rules as may be prescribed by the Senate and House respectively.
That the said secretaries, the Attorney-General, and the Postmaster-General shall attend the sessions of the Senate on the opening of the sittings on Tuesday and Friday of each week, and the sessions of the House of Representatives on the opening of the sittings on Monday and Thursday of each week, to give information asked by resolution, or in reply to questions which may be propounded to them under the rules of the Senate and House; and the Senate and House may, by standing orders, dispense with the attendance of one or more of said officers on either of said days.
"The first section provides for a voluntary attendance, to take part in debate. The second section provides for a compulsory attendance, to give information. In order to carry into effect the second section, rules somewhat like the following should be adopted by each House, mutatis mutandis:
That the secretary of the Senate shall keep a notice-book, in which he shall enter, at the request of any member, any resolution requiring information from any of the executive departments, or any question
intended to be propounded to any of the secretaries, or the PostmasterGeneral, or the Attorney-General, relating to public affairs or to the business pending before the Senate, together with the name of the member and the day when the same will be called up.
"The member giving notice of such resolution or question shall, at the same time, give notice that the same shall be called up in the Senate on the following Tuesday or Friday: Provided, That no such resolution or question shall be called up, except by a unanimous consent, within less than three days after notice shall have been given.
"The secretary of the Senate shall, on the same day on which notice is entered, transmit to the principal officer of the proper department a copy of the resolution or question, together with the name of the member proposing the same, and of the day when it will be called up in the Senate.
"In the Senate, on Tuesday and Friday of each week, before any other business shall be taken up, except by unanimous consent, the resolutions and questions shall be taken up in the order in which they have been entered upon the notice-book for that day.
"The member offering a resolution may state succinctly the object and scope of his resolution and the reasons for desiring the information, and the secretary of the proper department may reply, giving the information or the reasons why the same should be withheld, and then the Senate shall vote on the resolution, unless it shall be withdrawn or postponed.
"In putting any question to the secretaries, or the Attorney-General, or Postmaster-General, no argument or opinion is to be offered, nor any fact stated, except so far as may be necessary to explain such question; and, in answering such question, the secretary, the AttorneyGeneral, or Postmaster-General shall not debate the matter to which the same refers, nor state facts or opinions other than those necessary to explain the answer."
"These rules relate only to the execution of the last section of the bill-to giving information-to putting and answering questions. They in no wise affect the debate permitted and invited by the first section. They have been framed after a most careful examination of the rules and modes of procedure of the British Parliament and French Assembly, and are believed to contain the best provisions of both. They are framed to accomplish the purpose of obtaining the needed information with the least interference with the other duties of the heads of departments. No question can be called up unless after three days' notice to the secretaries; and the answers are limited to the specific points of the question, in order that accuracy may be attained. These rules may be amended as experience shall show their defects.
"The bill confers a privilege and imposes a duty on the heads of departments. The privilege is to give their suggestions and advice in debate, by word of mouth; the duty is to give information orally and face to face."
The limit of space will not admit of discussing this measure in detail. Those interested will find the arguments set forth in two papers* published by the American Academy of Political and Social Science. It may be here remarked that the principle is just as important in the State or city as in the national government, and that the main obstacle to its adoption in all these cases consists in the tenacious grasp of the legislature upon executive power, which is quietly acquiesced in by the people.
One more false principle remains to be noticed, as fatal in the long run to good government of any kind, the deciding of elections by a plurality of votes. The New York constitution expressly provides, in the case of the governor and lieutenant-governor, that the person having the highest number of votes shall be elected, but as to all other elective offices it leaves the question to be settled by implication or by statute. In Massachusetts, the general principle was established at one fell stroke. Up to 1854, all the elective State offices, with one or two possible exceptions, required a majority of all the votes cast. By the vote of two legislatures in 1854 and 1855 and the ratification of the people on May 23, 1855, was passed
ARTICLE XIV. In all elections of civil officers by the people of this commonwealth, whose election is provided for by the constitution, the person having the highest number of votes shall be deemed and be declared to be elected.
No longer single step downward was ever taken in the. politics of the State; and it is a crucial illustration how dangerous is legislation which is not subjected to the stringent and public criticism of the executive branch which is responsible for administration. The very basis of popular government or of democracy is that the majority shall govern. To * Publication No. 37, "Congress and the Cabinet," and Publication No. 106, "Congress and the Cabinet-II."
say tha. the largest of any given number of fractions shall govern is a very different thing. The superiority of the English parliamentary system over all others in Europe is precisely in this, that it has consisted of two organized and disciplined parties, whether Whigs and Tories or Conservatives and Liberals. The recent disintegration of party lines has, perhaps, caused more alarm there than any other symptom. It is admitted that the greatest difficulty with the chambers of the continent is the multitude of groups, dividing and coalescing upon the passions of the moment, but refusing to work together upon any general principle and thus making government almost impossible. Government in this country has been made possible only by placing over against the perennial Democrats a solid body, first, of Federalists, then of Whigs and lastly of Republicans. The same necessity has carried these distinctions, otherwise totally absurd, into the politics of States and cities. Instead of a combining, election by plurality is distinctly a disintegrating force. It leads every theorist who has a pet idea, female suffrage, prohibition, eight hour laws and so on, to work away in creating a new fraction in the hope that it may in time outnumber any other. It leads every rascal to work in multiplying fractions that the proportion of any one to his own may be diminished. It permits any citizen who does not fancy either of the great parties to throw away his vote upon some particular idea which strikes him as praiseworthy, without incurring the reproach of abstention. There is a great deal of talk about minority representation. Under the plurality system there is a good chance that minorities only may be represented. It is as necessary in a democracy as in an army, that the members should be taught that they must pull together, and the way to do this is to require a clear majority of votes at every election. The means of obtaining this is the simplest in the world, and is practiced constantly in Europe. Every undecided election is followed in a few days by a second ballot between the two highest on the previous list, when a majority