LINES OF CLEAVAGE.
The announcement that the "Committee of Forty-Eight" will convene in Chicago in July to form a new political party will not raise any appreciable havoc in the Republican or Democratic camps. The program of the Committee has been stigmatized as capitalistic and reactionary by the mass of radical thinkers in the country, while it savors too much of state socialism to make any strong appeal to even the most progressive wings of the traditional conservative elements.
It indicates, however, a strong tendency which political managers even at this stage of the game may not ignore. It is illustrated not only by the sincere though fantastic program of the "Committee of Forty-Eight," but by the probably less sincere and less fantastic Non-Partisan League, and by the palpably insincere and dangerous machinations of William Randolph Hearst. It is the tendency, somewhat justified, we must grant, to regard the "old-line" parties as having ceased to fulfill any salutary political functions, and to regard the formation of a new and powerful "third party" as the logical means of forcing a political realignment.
Sooner or later this realignment must inevitably take place. The line of cleavage between the Republicans and Democrats, once fairly marked, has recently become less acute, less perceptible, and in many cases has been obliterated. Great issues have become more identified with personal than with political partisanship, as the Treaty fight has shown. In both the old parties the more radical elements are threatening to wrest the sceptre from the grasp of the "Old Guard." With elements in both parties striving to outdo each other in radicalism, there will be an opportunity for constructive statesmanship untainted with reaction to acquire the political balance of power, without the disruption which attends the birth of a third party. This is the opportunity for patriotic service which the Chicago and San Francisco conventions should not allow to slip through their hands.