Civic Victories: The Story of an Unfinished Revolution

Civic Victories: The Story of an Unfinished Revolution

Civic Victories: The Story of an Unfinished Revolution

Civic Victories: The Story of an Unfinished Revolution

Excerpt

The preachers who tell corrupt cities that the people are steeped in sin are the descendants of those who used to associate sin and plagues.

-- National Municipal Review , 1936

THE people -- pronounced by the orators "pee-pul"! Or "the plain people," who, we are to understand, have certain supernatural virtues not possessed by "the people"! It is in some minds èsemajesté to allege that there are limitations to the people in either morals or learning. Rounded periods are out of fashion on every other subject, but rhetorical vaporings still enshroud "this great people." And if you should have the temerity to opine that most of the people vote for a state treasurer blindly without adequate knowledge of his qualifications, editors (after having looked up the name of the state treasurer themselves to be sure of it) will explode in paragraphs of scorn -- "Doesn't he trust our people?" In the same editorials, after exalting the virtue of the people, they may proceed to deplore their wanton "apathy."

Apathy is assigned as the reason for every failure of the democratic process. Tie upon the backs of the people a triple burden of duties and if they do not carry it well, if they do not do the tasks which writers of state constitutions and city charters assigned to them, bewail their "apathy"!

SAME PEOPLE -- DIVERSE RESULTS

But we see in the United States some clear phenomena that upset the notion that the people are always to blame when things go wrong. The government of New York City has been over a period of some years markedly better than that of Chicago in the view of both informed New Yorkers and Chicagoans. Must we then assume . . .

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