Public Men in and out of Office

By J. T. Salter | Go to book overview

26
EARL WARREN "So-called Nonpartisan"

BY THOMAS S. BARCLAY

IT HAS LONG BEEN COMMONPLACE THAT CERTAIN FACTORS in the American political system make exceedingly difficult the development of recognized, nation-wide leaders. The national government operates with irresponsible political parties and diffused controls. This is particularly true so far as the minority party is concerned. The leadership of the party in power at Washington is monopolized by the President himself; he is leader because he is President and not President because he is leader. The methods and conditions which control the procedure of Congress are hardly adapted to produce a unitary national leadership for the opposition. Our constitutional practices result in the nomination of "available" men and in the rather complete elimination of the defeated candidate from a position of acknowledged party leadership.

Among the several advantages of the federal system, however, is the fact that the states constitute "reservoirs from which national leadership may be drawn." The successful governor of a doubtful and strategic state attracts attention and interest in other parts of the nation; his record and qualifications are meticulously examined; he frequently becomes "available" as a presidential possibility.

Thus, of the twelve successful candidates for the presidency since 1876, seven have been governors of their respective commonwealths, while six of the defeated opponents have likewise held that office. To designate California as an important state is not merely to appeal to local pride and sentiment. The state ranks high in population and has twenty-five electoral votes. If

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