John N. Garner, of Texas, now speaker of the House, is one of the most capable of the Democratic leaders and stands as one of the most likely of the dark horse possibilities. Selected by the Hearst papers as their candidate for the nomination, Garner's personality and beliefs are discussed by A. C. Frazer '18, author, and a member of the Boston Evening American editorial staff.
The history of political conventions is a curious one. There are those who will tell you the conventions are "framed," that the overlords of the parties simply pull the strings and pop! out comes the candidate of their choice.
It so happens, however, that there is considerable competition between these "rings" of political bigwigs, those men-behind-the-scenes of our political literature, and the competition has usually been healthy even if the "rings" themselves smelled to high heaven.
No political crowd over held the reins but what there was another bunch plotting how to snatch control.
Thus appear the dark horse, the entry the leaders scorneth.
When the tumult and the shouting has died away, it is easy enough for the sophisticated cynics to make out that this gang or that one had the party's nominee all picked out in advance, that they were simply awaiting the strategic moment before opening the paddock gate and trotting out the winner. Harding, for example.
But close inspection of the facts will show that the individual chosen to carry the party's colors was frequently only the grudging, reluctant choice of one influential group or another, who decided at long last to ride him to victory rather than go down to defeat as bitter-enders with the candidate they backed at the start.
In short--the cynics notwithstanding--there are real dark horses.
Strongest Dark Horse
At the present writing one of these creatures with a high degree of potentiality is John Nance Garner, who left a law office in the cattle country about 29 years ago to go to Washington and eventually to become the Speaker of the House.
There are others. But in this forceful Texan are some distinct possibilities which others lack.
The present Speaker of the House has been most outspoken on occasions without number, and he has some very positive views on most matters, notably such important signposts on the nation's economic course as taxation, finance, and the tariff. Everybody who has followed events in the last dozen Congresses is perfectly aware of his position.
His Stand on War Debts
His record is clear. Plain enough to be read by any voter who takes the trouble to keep in touch with things governmental. Garner is pretty consistent and he doesn't pussyfoot. He doesn't pussyfoot on the League of Nations. He doesn't pussyfoot on the war debts. He doesn't pussyfoot on taxation, on which his views are those of the great mass of the common people. He doesn't pussyfoot on anything.
He led the fight against the Fordney-McCumber tariff bill and succeeded in lowering a number of the rates at which he aimed his guns. He led the fight on the Scott-Hawley tariff bill and on the Mellon tax plan. Credit is given him for the graduated income tax.
Under his leadership the House inserted a clause in the moratorium stating that the people of this country had lent, not given, of their wealth to Europe and that the war debts were not canceled.
He voted against the Eighteenth Amendment, but since it was tacked on to the Constitution, he has voted consistently in favor of enforcing that provision, as long as it remains there.
He co-operated heartily with President Wilson during the war but he is against our entering the League of Nations--and everybody knows it, or would know it if they took the trouble to watch the words and actions of the men at Washington. He is definitely not an internationalist.
Opposed Votes for Women
He voted against the Women Suffrage Amendment, but as women won the right to vote, they are not likely to hold that against him. At the time, he believed woman's place was in the home, and he said so.
You don't have to explain or excuse the stand of John N. Garner on any public question. His record is written on the public scrolls for all to read and he does not ask to be allowed to change a line of it. On it, he is aparently quite willing to stand or fall. It's his record and he appears to believe that Mr. John J. Voter has a right to judge him on it, without being cajoled into thinking it's something that it's not.
The manner in which he got the House organized and functioning on important legislation is a matter of recent history, known to all who read the daily press.
Since he became Speaker, his prestige has increased greatly among his colleagues because of his evident impartiality and fairness. Northern Democratic Congressmen find no reason to complain of any slights. In fact they will tell you that they like him more than ever. And although he is a product of the Solid South, they seem to consider him more in the light of a Westerner.
A Democratic Crusader
Moreover, to his supporters at least, Garner represents the true spirit of the Democratic Party which is none too often evidenced in Presidential candidates. They insist he would be a far more popular rallying point than a number of others whose contact over long years with big business has dulled the edge of their crusading blade.
If Speaker Garner were actively directing an organization working nationally in his behalf, he would probably do a workmanlike job of it, for he has a direct way of going at problems that makes for speed, dispatch, and thoroughness. He is not doing so. He is contented where he is, although needless to say, he will be a receptive dark horse. It is not likely, however, on the strength of his record, that he will make concessions to win the nomination.
Compared to Garfield
He will go into the convention with the support of two states. Texas and Louisiana. Garfield, I believe, received only one vote on the first ballot in 1880, the year he was nominated and elected. And the vital and vigorous Congressman from the fifteenth Texas district starts off with the kindly wishes of a good many persons and the friendship of the leaders.
The convention can do worse than nominate John N. Garner, 63 years old of Uvalde, Texas.