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The rule of all rules, the one, indeed, which ruled the Democratic Party out of the 1924 election is being questioned as 1928 appears on the political horizon. The New York Times, interesting itself in the matter sent out a questionnaire to members of the Democratic National Committee. Twenty-eight of them replied, and all but seven favored the abolition of the rule. The majority were evidently actuated by disgust at the spectacle enacted in 1924. But it might be supposed that the seven standpatters would give specific reasons which made them immune from the general turn of opinion.
The reasons given, however, are but three all bromides. Several members would seek a meeting of the whole committee before answering categorically. Others point to the traditional value of the rule. One remarks that parliamentary usage often sanctions the two-thirds requirement on motions of importance. It is remarkable that the first objection is equivocal and that the last two depend for their effect on doubtful matters of degree.
The Times' questionnaire has thus proved that the majority of Democratic Committeemen willing to express an opinion do not care to have their party repeat its previous performance. To students who care to view the questionnaire in a detached manner, it exhibits man, the political animal, re-acting unscientifically on the basis of a single instance. Even those who do not react stand pat only on the ground that they have not been sufficiently horrified.
One is reminded that politics bear little relation to scholarship, that the men who urge it are seldom scholars, and that the people on whom they depend are much less so. Political agitation, manoeuvering, and conviction depend largely upon impression. Sometimes in the higher reaches of legislative or executive activity, a particular politician acquires personal prestige enough to translate a careful program into law. But in such things as managing a national convention, one must look out for the careless prejudices of the nation at large.
According to this view, it is Quite to reasonable for the Democratic politicians to react so easily without reason to the bad taste left by their last convention. One gathers from the consensus of opinion gathered by the Times that the change will prevail and the next Democratic nominee will be the choice of only a majority of delegates to the convention.
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