WHAT do the political parties of to-day stand for? This question is often asked, and it is rarely answered to the satisfaction of the inquirer. Republican and Democratic politicians have their answers ready enough, but these answers are mutually contradictory and, since they are never disinterested, it is not surprising that they are not convincing. The most authoritative answers are those which are contained in the national party platforms, but what these platforms mean no man can tell by merely reading them.
It is not difficult to ascertain what the parties have stood for in the past. In the light of past performances one may form an opinion concerning what they might be expected to stand for in the future under similar conditions. But precisely similar conditions will never return, and predictions of future policy based on past performance may go far astray. It should be possible, however, at least to form an opinion concerning the future usefulness of the present political organizations. Should they be scrapped, in order to make way for more serviceable parties? Or should they be kept in such state of repair as may be practicable, despite the great changes in the paramount political issues which have occurred since they were first organized? And if there is to be a realignment of parties in national politics, what sort of parties may be expected in place of those we now have?
These are some of the questions which are discussed in the following pages. In the first chapter the problem of partisanship in national politics is stated and the point of