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With the great extension of state functions during the last fifty years has come an ever-increasing need for efficient administration and clean politics. This demand has not been adequately answered. Our city governments, with a few notable exceptions, have drifted farther and farther from political decency, and the national administration is too often wrapt up in a maze of red tape.
If our political system is to cope with the new problems presented as a result of the war and the industrial growth of the country, it must have more men of distinction and intellectual training. And where are such men to be recruited if not in the colleges of the country?
College men are particularly well fitted for politics. The training they receive as undergraduates aims to develop in them perspective and a broad view of life which should make them able to take part in the large aspects of government in a way that a purely technically trained man can not. Moreover, there are to be found in the colleges those men whose independent incomes make it possible for them to take a disinterested part in government. At present, however, many able university graduates shun political life. The reason, for this is two fold.
On the one hand, the college man stands, to a certain degree, aloof from the rank and file of the nation. A ward boss has a ten to one chance of defeating him in a municipal election. Therefore, he avoids local politics. And, on the other hand, the college man's interest in his own affairs, his desire to make more money, and to avoid controversy and compromise turns his course into business, or anything but politics.
The surmounting of both these obstacles rests largely with the college man himself. Of course the electorate needs education; but much less than it is easy to suppose. If college men would strive to get in touch with the electorate and enter local politics in large numbers they would soon oversome the present misunderstandings.
As to the second obstacle; it is really a selfish one. Great fortunes, though they bring with them power, are not so easily possible today when the government takes such a large percentage of a man's income. And the power itself is often a sham. The only real fulfillment of life for the college graduate rests in service and in creative development. Politics offers the real field for those who are not artistically or scientifically inspired. The need is great; so, also, is the fulfillment.
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