THE CONSTITUTIONAL BASIS OF NATIONAL POLITICS
THE ambitious and realistic politician who, in the absence of great parties of the kind described by Burke and lamented by Tocqueville and by Bryce, sets about the task of creating a national party of his own, or even the humbler task of securing power through the instrumentality of such national parties as may exist, is immediately confronted by certain practical difficulties resulting from the nature of constitutional government in the United States.
Power, under the American system of government, is limited. In the first place, it is distributed between the federal government and the governments of the fortyeight states. Secondly, the particular powers which have been granted to the federal government are not only carefully enumerated in the federal Constitution, but their extent is also more or less precisely defined. The foremost concern of the practical politician is to hold power, and he who aspires to eminence in national politics must take into account the peculiar nature of the power which he seeks to hold. If he begins, as Tocqueville believed he would, by discerning his own interest, and then discovering those other interests which may be collected around and amalgamated with it, he must understand the nature of the powers which a victorious party may most conveniently utilize for the gratification of the interests it seeks to enlist in its support. He cannot hope to form a new party which will long endure, or to strengthen substantially an