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- The Progressive Democracy of James M. Cox - 5/14 -
just passed. The co-operation of the United States with the League and its continuance as a member thereof, will naturally depend upon the adherence of the League to that fundamental purpose.'
"Such a declaration would at least express the view of the United States and justify the course which our nation would unquestionably follow if the basic purpose of the League were at any time distorted. It would also appear to be a simple matter to provide against any misunderstanding in the future and at the same time to meet the objections of those who believe that we might be inviting a controversy over our constitutional rights, by making a senatorial addition on words something like these:
"'It will of course be understood that in carrying out the purpose of the League, the government of the United States must at all times act in strict harmony with the terms and intent of the United States Constitution, which cannot in any way be altered by the treaty-making power.'
"Some people doubt the enduring quality of this general international scheme. Whether this be true or not, the fact remains that it will justify itself if it does no more than prevent the nations of the earth from arming themselves to the teeth and wasting resource which is necessary to repair the losses of the war. No one contends that it is a perfect document, but it is a step in the right direction. It would put the loose ends of civilization together now and do more toward the restoration of normal conditions in six months' time than can the powers of the earth, acting independently, in ten years' time. The Republican senatorial cabal insists that the treaty be Americanized. Suppose that Italy asked that it be Italianized-- France that it be Frenchized--Britain that it be Britainized, and so on down the line. The whole thing would result in a perfect travesty.
"The important thing now is to enable the world to go to work, but the beginning must not be on the soft sands of an unsound plan. If this question passes to the next administration, there should be no fetich developed over past differences. Yet at the same time there must be no surrender of vital principles. It may be necessary if partitions and reparation require changing, to assemble representatives of the people making up the nations of the League, in which event revision may not be so much an affair of diplomats. But I repeat the pressing task is getting started, being careful however that we are starting with an instrument worth while, and not a mere shadow."
To an extent to which very few public men favoring the League of Nations have gone, Governor Cox has expressed the firm conviction that the League will enable the people of Ireland to bring their contention and claims before a world tribunal. It was his statement before an audience in Cincinnati that the League would be the means by which the Irish case could be heard in the highest court in the world, and he stated that thus far it had never been heard even in a magistrate's court. Sentiments on the question of self-determination were also expressed in his article in the New York Times. In this the Governor said:
"We are a composite people in the United States and the belief of students of government in years past that our democracy would not endure was based entirely upon the idea that we could not build a nation from the blood of many races which had old inherited prejudices. It is very important, particularly at this time when racial impulses and emotions have been stirred world- wide as never before, that we make the utmost effort to prevent division along these lines. In this connection it is well to bear in mind that the armistice which preceded the peace was based upon fourteen cardinal points; one of the most, if not the most, important of which was the right of self-determination.
"Wars in the past have resulted largely from dispute over territory and imposed restraints of racial aspirations. Governmental entities are more apt to last and to live harmoniously with others if groups are bounded by racial homogeneity rather than by the physical characteristics of the earth in the form of mountains, rivers, etc. Individual aspiration is a God-given element and distinct ambitions possess the soul of racial unity. In harmony with this theory, the San Francisco convention should emphasize the Democratic belief in the principle of self-determination in government. Our citizens will not deny to any race of people the right to hold the emotions which stirred the founders of our Republic."
The Governor's position on the League was amplified in his Address of Acceptance at Dayton on August 7th, 1920, in which he said:
"We are in a time which calls for straight thinking, straight talking and straight acting. This is no time for wobbling. Never in all our history has more been done for government. Never was sacrifice more sublime. The most precious things of heart and home were given up in a spirit which guarantees the perpetuity of our institutions--if the faith is kept with those who served and suffered. The altar of our republic is drenched in blood and tears, and he who turns away from the tragedies and obligations of the war, not consecrated to a sense of honor and of duty which resists every base suggestion of personal or political expediency, is unworthy of the esteem of his countrymen.
"The men and women who by expressed policy at the San Francisco Convention charted our course in the open seas of the future sensed the spirit of the hour and phrased it with clarity and courage. It is not necessary to read and reread the Democratic platform to know its meaning. It is a document clear in its analysis of conditions and plain in the pledge of service made to the public. It carries honesty of word and intent. Proud of the leadership and achievement of the party in war, Democracy faces unafraid the problems of peace. Indeed, its pronouncement has but to be read along with the platform framed by Republican leaders in order that both spirit and purpose as they dominate the opposing organizations may be contrasted. On the one hand we see pride expressed in the nation's glory and a promise of service easily understood. On the other a captious, unhappy spirit and the treatment of subjects vital to the present and the future, in terms that have completely confused the public mind. It was clear that the senatorial oligarchy had been given its own way in the selection of the presidential candidate, but it was surprising that it was able to fasten into the party platform the creed of hate and bitterness and the vacillating policy that possesses it.
"In the midst of war the present senatorial cabal, led by Senators Lodge, Penrose and Smoot, was formed. Superficial evidence of loyalty to the President was deliberate in order that the great rank and file of their party, faithful and patriotic to the very core, might not be offended. But underneath this misleading exterior, conspirators planned and plotted, with bigoted zeal. With victory to our arms they delayed and obstructed the works of peace. If deemed useful to the work in hand no artifice for interfering with our constitutional peace-making authority was rejected. Before the country knew, yes, before these men themselves knew the details of the composite plan, formed at the peace table, they declared their opposition to it. Before the treaty was submitted to the senate in the manner the Constitution provides, they violated every custom and every consideration of decency by presenting a copy of the document, procured unblushingly from enemy hands, and passed it into the printed record of senatorial proceedings. From that hour dated the enterprise of throwing the whole subject into a technical discussion, in order that the public might be confused. The plan has never changed in its objective, but the method has. At the outset there was the careful insistence that there was no desire to interfere with the principle evolved and formalized at Versailles. Later, it was the form and not the substance that professedly inspired attack. But pretense was futile when proposals later came forth that clearly emasculated the basic principle of the whole peace plan. It is not necessary to recall the details of the controversy in the senate. Senator Lodge finally crystallized his ideas into what were known as the Lodge reservations, and when congress adjourned these reservations held the support of the so-called regular Republican leaders.
"From that time the processes have been interesting. Political expediency in its truest sense dwarfed every consideration either of the public interest or of the maintenance of the honor of a great political party. The exclusive question was how to avoid a rupture in the Republican organization. The country received with interest, to say the least, the announcement from Chicago, where the national convention was assembled, that a platform plank dealing with the subject of world peace, had been drawn leaving out the Lodge reservations, and yet remaining agreeable to all interests, meaning thereby, the Lodge reservationists, the mild reservationists and the group of Republican senators that openly opposed the League of Nations in any form.
"As the platform made no definite committal of policy and was, in fact, so artfully phrased as to make almost any deduction possible, it passed through the convention with practical unanimity. Senator Johnson, however, whose position has been consistent and whose opposition to the League in any shape is well known, withheld his support of the convention's choice until the candidate had stated the meaning of the platform, and announced definitely the policy that would be his, if elected.
"The Republican candidate has spoken and his utterance calls forth the following approval from Senator Johnson:
"'Yesterday in his speech of acceptance Senator Harding unequivocally took his stand upon the paramount issue in this campaign--the League of Nations. The Republican party stands committed by its platform. Its standard-bearer has now accentuated that platform. There can be no misunderstanding his words.'
"Senator Harding, as the candidate of the party, and Senator Johnson are as one on this question, and, as the latter expresses it, the Republican party is committed both by platform in the abstract and by its candidate in specification. The threatened revolt among leaders of the party is averted, but the minority position as expressed in the senate prevails as that of the party. In short, principle, as avowed in support of the Lodge reservations, or of the so-called mild reservations, has been surrendered to expediency.
"Senator Harding makes this new pledge of policy in behalf of his party:
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