In a recent interview for the CRIMSON, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge '71 emphasized the need for reconstruction in this country and the importance of guarding the people's government.
"The Great War," said Senator Lodge, "has shaken to its foundations the entire fabric of society, business and industry. On the continent of Europe the economic and industrial organization has been shattered. In England and the United States it has been shaken and thrown out of gear. Therefore, a vast work of reconstruction confronts all great nations of western civilization, and the United States is not exempted from this task. We, too, need wise measures of reconstruction.
"One great measure of that kind--perhaps the most complicated and difficult--passed through Congress on Monday, the 23d of February. This was the Railroad Bill. But although the most difficult of all the problems of practical reconstruction, it was far from being the only one. Many others must be met and dealt with if we are to restore the economic and social conditions which existed before the war so that they will once more function successfully and for the benefit of the People of the United States and of mankind.
War Increased Executive Power.
"Much of the talk which we hear and of the writings we read in regard to reconstruction is vague, and it is worthy of remark that the fundamental question is so seldom or so lightly referred to. By the shock of war our Government was obliged to confer under the war powers of the Constitution enormous authority upon the Executive, and thereby put the operation of the Government into an abnormal condition.
"More important than any other measure of reconstruction is the duty of bringing the Government back to the limitations and methods of the Constitution, to free them from the distortion caused by war and place them once more on the firm ground and under the control of the principles which have been the foundation of our success and prosperity, for more than a century. Our national government is a government of limited powers divided between three co-ordinate branches, executive, legislative and judicial. The operation of the war powers has gone far toward suppressing for the time being the lawful and necessary functions of the legislative department. These must be restored. The three branches of the Government must once more be brought back to their normal positions where they shall fulfill the duties imposed upon them by the Constitution and not trench upon each other's jurisdiction and functions.
Two Dangers Have Sprung Up.
"In this direction two dangers to democracy have grown up from the imperious necessities of war. One is the tendency which in certain quarters has been cultivated to push our Government toward the form of an autocracy resting on a plebiscite, and thus to the suppression of the legislative branch, which intervenes under our system between the representatives of the people and the powers of the Executive thereby created. We had an example of such a system in the government established by the third Napoleon in the middle of the last century. It can only result, when carried out to its inevitable conclusion, in a form of despotism. We are still far from that point, but, nevertheless, the tendency toward an autocracy and the suppression of the legislative which represents the people must be checked and a return to the Constitutional system made secure beyond a doubt.
Mental Unrest Causes Difficulties.
"The other danger springs from the economic disorders and the mental unrest produced by the war. The Government of the United States, if it is to exist at all, must be what it has always been, a government of all the people, and it must be conducted and sustained by the representatives chosen by the people to make the laws of the United States. Nothing could be more fatal to the ordered freedom which is thoroughly American in its conception and purpose than to have any organization of a minority of the people or of some particular occupation or class undertake to control the government of all the people. That is the road which has been followed in Russia and which has resulted in what is known as the Soviet governments, which are despotisms and minority rule of the most tyrannical kind. This is a danger which it is the duty of the American people to guard against and prevent with all their force. The Government of the United States must be a government of law and order, carried on by majorities duly ascertained by the methods which are fixed by law.
"In dealing with the many great difficulties which we are now facing, the one dominant principle which must be upheld in preference to all others is to see to it that this government of ours is a government of all the people and not of one man or of some of the people. There must be no question permitted as to the power and authority of the people's government, and we must not forget that whether the instrument is an autocrat or a highly organized minority the control of either would mean the failure of that popular government based on law and order and upon equal rights which Lincoln declared must not perish from the earth.