Two Years of President Harding

"In American politics, it is usually dangerous to make predictions. It is doubly dangerous when world conditions are in so kaleidoscopic a situation as they are just now." A critique of a president who would be assassinated before the end of his term


On the fourth of March Mr. Harding’s administration passes its second year anniversary—an occasion which invites some comments in mid-term. Is the administration measuring up to what might reasonably have been expected? Is the country getting what it bargained for? 

Now it may seem unfair, on the face of things to attempt any appraisal of an administration’s faults or merits until it has exhausted its four years of opportunity. And, in a sense, it is unfair: no ruler of men can be dispassionately judged until after he has ceased to be a ruler, or, indeed, for many years thereafter. Yet the fact remains that in remarkably few instances has any presidential administration given good cause for the revision of fair judgments passed upon it at mid-term. Two years are ample to determine its pace and direction. Some presidents have done better, with experience; and some have done worse; very few have done differently.

In any case, the American practice of holding a Congressional election midway between two presidential campaigns may be said to provide an irresistible temptation for taking a political inventory, whether the time be opportune or not. The results of this off-year election are bound to be construed, by the great bodies of unreflective opinion at home and abroad, as an endorsement, or a repudiation of the party in power. The political history of the United States during the past forty years seems to indicate, moreover, that they may rightly be so interpreted. Never during these four decades has the party in power, having lost the mid-term Congressional elections, failed to lose the presidency two years later. And only once during this period has the dominant party carried the House in the off-year election and failed in the next presidential campaign.

If we view the results of last November’s Congressional campaign in the light of the precedents, therefore, it will appear that the Republicans have no reason for being unduly disheartened. But that is not the light in which results have been interpreted, and are still being interpreted, through the land. The marked shrinkage in the Republican Congressional majorities has been almost everywhere taken to imply that the people are becoming impatient with the inaction of Congress, are losing faith in Mr. Harding, and are getting ready to cast the Republican party into outer darkness. This may be a correct deduction from the November returns; there is no certain way of determining, at this stage, whether it is or not. But it is, at any rate, not the only possible interpretation, nor, indeed, the most reasonable one.

Recall for a moment what happened in 1920. Mr. Harding was elected by a popular plurality of about seven million votes; his supporters in both Houses of Congress were swept into the winning column as by a tidal wave. This, however, was not the doing of the Republican Party alone: it was the work of the most variegated host that ever ranged itself upon a single side at any American election. Included ad hoc in the Republican ranks were millions of men and women who were not Republicans by tradition, and who had no honest sympathy with the principles of Republicanism. Their allegiance to the party was nominal only, and no one but the veriest tyro in politics should have imagined that it would endure for any length of time. One bond, and only one, held this vast aggregation together: namely, a disinclination to endorse the foreign and domestic policies of the Wilson Administration. So it was beyond peradventure that disintegration would set in, and that right speedily. He was a poor prophet who could not have foreseen a great recession in the strength of this titular Republicanism by the time the next Congressional elections should arrive.

But whether the shrinkage proved to be greater than might fairly have been anticipated, and whether it cut more deeply into the Republican ranks than a mere restoration of the old party lines would have warranted—these are questions which leave some room for difference of opinion. The casualties were heavy, more so than the Republican leaders had reckoned upon. But they involved no loss of control over either House. Therein the Harding Administration fared better than that of Arthur in 1882, Harrison in 1890, Cleveland in 1894, Taft in 1910, and Wilson in 1918. This is a phase of the situation which has had little attention in the political sermons and editorials of the past five months. Desertions by the million have taken place from the ranks of those who placed the present Administration in power; but over the greater part of the country there is no indication that this departure of the guerrillas who fought with the Republicans in 1920 has made the party appreciably weaker than it has been on many previous occasions.


When President Harding called for a return to 'normalcy.' he presumably did not have in mind the deflation of his own party to its normal strength. But that was a necessary implication, was it not? The country is normally Republican, but not by any such margin as was reflected at the elections of 1920. It may well be doubted whether any programme, however wisely framed, or any amount of leadership, however skillfully exercised, would have availed to maintain the hegemony disclosed on that occasion. Inevitably it could not be done by pursuing the laissez-faire policy which Mr. Harding outlined in his inaugural address. The feat of holding the distended ranks of the Party together could be accomplished, if at all, only by aggressive leadership of a type which the President was equipped neither by temperament nor by training to give.

Rarely, indeed, has there been greater need for vigorous political leadership in the United Status than during the past two years. This is not because the national problems have been more difficult of solution, or the tasks confronting the nation more stupendous, than at various other periods in American history; but because the public mind has been so badly bewildered. The issues have been ambiguous, confused, obscured. There has been no approach to a consensus on any subject, even within the ranks of the political parties themselves. The country has been in a mood of reaction, skepticism, negation. It has been in a disillusioned, restive, diacritical frame of mind. Leadership of an authoritative and dominating sort has been sorely needed during the past two years to rouse the electorate to an attitude of positivism on public questions. Getting a new orientation is a difficult business, whether for an individual or for a whole nation; there is bound to be much floundering in the process. Congress has merely shown itself a faithful mirror of this flux and chaos in the public sentiment; it has known its own mind no better than the people who elected it. Left to its own resources, without guidance or direction, there is no reason why the Sixty-Seventh Congress of the United States should have done otherwise than grow restive in its desire to do something, yet knowing not what to do.

The larger a Congressional majority, the more urgently is firm leadership desirable. An overwhelming victory at the polls is certain to make a political party over-confident; over-confidence begets indolence; then the days and weeks flit by with nothing done. A majority that is not kept on its mettle by the relentless pressure of a strong opposition becomes remiss, complacent, and ill disciplined. The history of legislatures affords innumerable examples of the truism that, in politics as in war, the trammels of discipline are more readily loosened by victory than by defeat. Hence the need for a dominating will in the councils of a political party is most imperative on the morrow of a landslide such as took place in this country at the last presidential election. This is, or ought to be, a self-evident proposition, a commonplace of polities.

Accordingly, the lack of effective leadership in Congress, unfortunate enough under the most favorable circumstances, has been doubly so during the past two years by reason of the wide margin between the majority and minority parties. The framers of the Constitution assumed that Congress would lead itself; at any rate, they provided on agency of guidance within its own ranks. But where constitutions and laws are silent, usage Commonly steps into the breach. It has done so in many fields of American government, but unhappily not in this. There was a time when it could be said that the House at least had succeeded in providing itself with a prime minister ensconced in the speaker's chair; but the revolution of 1910-11 ripped this arrangement wide open. So, if leadership there is to be, it must be provided from outside the Capitol, and the White House is the only place from which it can come.

To a certain extent, Grover Cleveland put this idea into practice. Theodore Roosevelt followed his example somewhat more extensively, and certainly with a greater relish for the task. President Wilson, however, was the first chief executive to brush aside all considerations of political theory, and to assume the role of a Congressional mentor, without misgivings or apology. So long as he had a Democratic majority to deal with, he combined the functions of prime minister and president. Good or bad as we may choose to look upon it, Mr. Wilson's combination of these functions was at least productive of results upon the statute-book. During his first term he obtained from Congress substantially all that he asked of it. The legislative record of these years is almost without parallel in the political history of any country. It was as positive as the past two years have been negative.

It is easy to say, of course, that Ms. Harding should have recognized the folly of leaving a strongly Republican Congress to set its own pace; should have grasped his opportunity, as Presi­dent Wilson did; and should have carried through, in the first two years of his administration, the proposals which he has recently made to a Congress that is now slipping out of his reach. But to say this is to forget that no man can do, by mere decision, what he is not competent to do. Any such thought or action on Mr. Harding's part would have been out of key with his own temperament, his own ideals, and his own experience. He was out nominated by the Republican Convention of 1920 because he was believed to possess the attributes of leadership. Prior to his nomination he had held no executive post of any importance; during six years of service in the Senate, he had demonstrated a commendable ability to follow, but not to lead. Indeed, it was this trait of amenability which commended him to those of his senatorial colleagues whose influence prevailed at the Convention. If Mr. Harding had been a leader, whether of the Cleveland, Roosevelt, or Wilson brand, he would never have been nominated, or elected. The Convention took him for what he was known to be, and therein it did exactly what the public sentiment of the day desired it to do.

No observer of the national currents, as they were running in 1920, could doubt that the country had grown tired of personal government. It desired a return to tranquility and humdrum—that, at least, was its mood for the moment. It had become weary of tidings from Washington which sounded like communiqués from a battle-front. Without being able to decide the merits of the various controversies between the Capitol and the White House, the masses of the people felt that there must be something wrong when the two ends of Pennsylvania Avenue found themselves in such persistent and relentless discord. Government by irreconcilables, bitter-enders, and diehards may stir the electorate for a season, but the people ultimately grow tired of it. Representative government is, in essence, government by harmonizers, cooperators, and men of compromise.

Howsoever opinions may differ, accordingly, as to what the election of 1920 proved with respect to the major issues, there can be no doubt that it registered a popular protest against the government of the country by a mind of the single-track variety. It called for a return to the traditional methods of government by checks and balances, by give and take, by a higgling of the political market. If this in not what the voters said, it is at least the way a great many of them felt. Why, then, should the country complain that Mr. Harding has failed to impose his will and wishes upon the legislative arm of the government? He was not born a leader, not trained, nominated, or elected to be one. He was given no mandate to do the country's thinking for it. It may be true that you cannot indict a whole people; but if an indictment must be framed in this instance, there is none other against whom it can fairly be directed.


Public opinion in a democracy is uncertain, coy, and hard to please. In his inaugural address Mr. Harding pledged nothing, illuminated no issue of foreign or domestic policy. On America's attitude toward the chaos of Europe there was nothing in this address that could not have been deduced from his campaign speeches. Not a word did the address contain about the many internal problems which were already on the horizon, and which have since loomed into full view—the railroads and their labor troubles, the soldiers' bonus, relief for the farmer, federal aid to education, and so on. Even the tariff found itself dismissed with the cryptic suggestion that it ‘ought to be adjusted to the new order’—­whatever that might mean. The address, in short, intimated both to Congress and the country that the President had abdicated the post of prime minister. It gave neither guidance nor promise of guidance; it provided no foundation upon which any programme of constructive legislation might be based. Yet the country as a whole received it favorably, applauded its sonorous rhetoric, and accepted without a murmur the implication that five hundred legislators were competent to handle the problems of government, without suggestions from the chief executive.

But, whatever the theory of American government may be, executive silence on questions of legislative policy is not possible in the practice of it. If a president does not speak his mind voluntarily, Congress will smoke him out, as the saying is, and force him to an expression of his views. Or, if Congress does not do it, the newspapers will. The White House is the biggest pulpit in the country; its congregation is a body of one hundred million people who demand to know what the president thinks, feels, desires, or dislikes. To its first citizen, indeed, the whole country looks for its cue when the pros and cons of any great question puzzle the average mind, as they so often do. Large bodies of men and women will take the president's word on any public question; it is so much easier to do this than to think matters out for themselves. Some presidents have used to the full their opportunities along this line, Colonel Roosevelt especially. On more than one occasion he averted a clash with Congress by making his own opinions known early, and by using all the force of his own dynamic personality to drive them into the public mind.


Presidents are sometimes judged by the cabinets they select—even as men are judged by the company they keep. If history should frame its judgment of President Harding on this basis, it will deal generously with him. In selecting his official family, Mr. Harding showed a better appreciation of individual ability, and was far less influenced by considerations of personal friendship, than was Mr. Roosevelt. Unlike Mr. Wilson, he has not disdained to surround himself with men whose minds run in other channels than his own. Had he been guided by the example of his immediate predecessor, he would never have summoned either Mr. Hughes or Mr. Hoover to the council board. The selection of Mr. Hughes was an intimation that the President did not intend to be his own Secretary of State. It was also a plain warning that the function of handling the foreign relations of the country was not going to be abdicated to the Senate. It set at rest the misgiving, held at the outset even by many well-wishers of the Administration, that Mr. Harding in the White House would be the creature of that 'senatorial oligarchy' which was believed to have procured his nomination. No presidential cabinet during the past half-century has been better balanced, or has included within its membership a wider range of political experience.

To all appearances this Cabinet has worked with the President harmoniously. There have been no indications of waning confidence on either side. In matters of the most vital consequence, Mr. Harding has given his coadjutors an unusually generous scope for the exercise of their own initiative. This has been true of all the administrative departments (with possibly one exception), and particularly true of the Department of State. Mr. Wilson, as everyone knows, was his own foreign minister. He dictated both the substance and the form of diplomatic communications. To a lesser degree, the same thing was true of both Cleveland and Roosevelt in their respective presidencies. Mr. Harding, to all appearances, has no desire to make the State Department a personally conducted affair. At any rate, Mr. Hughes has spoken and acted like a free man. The scope of his freedom to act was made clear during the Washington Conference. For the first time in a generation the Secretary of State crowded the president off the front pages of the newspapers. The White House disclosed no umbrage at this, but warmly applauded the work of the Conference, and directed the full force of its influence to have this work ratified by a somewhat reluctant Senate.

The President has been insistent, moreover, that there shall be no interference with the State Department or either branch of Congress, as Senator Borah soon discovered when he put the matter to the test. The initiative in diplomatic affairs has been with Mr. Hughes since March 4, 1921, and there it bids fair to remain.

So, if the policy of the Administration has failed to satisfy those to whom Mr. Wilson once referred as the 'forward-looking' elements, it is not because the Harding Cabinet has been lacking in strength, harmony, or executive support. Cabinets, whether strong or weak, do not make or mar an administration. The indecision of a commanding general cannot be offset by any amount of wisdom and harmony on the part of his general staff. There is a psychological reason for this, and it operates as strongly in statesmanship as a oar. The attitude and actions of a cabinet, and of its individual members, are bound to be colored by the president's own personality. From him his advisers are certain to derive, in some measure, the inspiration of their own moods. The men who worked with Roosevelt, for example, were profoundly affected by his dynamic qualities. Some of them were not inherently given to vigor of thought or action; but they inevitably tended to became so by reason of the Rooseveltian example. Mr. Wilson tried to choose men whose minds already ran along with his own; Colonel Roosevelt took a varied assortment of minds, and compelled them all to run with his.

A cabinet, after all, is what the president makes it. Its collective work rests wholly on usage, not on the Constitution or the laws of the land. Its functions are primary or secondary, as the president chooses to make them. Of no president can it be said, however, that he succeeded or failed by reason of the counsel given to him by others. During the last presidential campaign, the country was completely oblivious to this significant fact of American history. It was commonly said, and many people believed it, that Mr. Harding's deficiencies as a leader would be made good by the galaxy of best minds with which he would surround himself. It was a futile hope. Deficiencies in a leader cannot be made good in this way—certaintl not under the American plan of government.


In the field of foreign relations, the most notable achievement of the Harding Administration has been connected with the Washington Conference. When one recalls the long succession of abortive European conferences that have been held during the past two years, the results which Mr. Hughes and his colleagues secured from the Washington gathering are entitled to more than perfunctory commendation.

It was not easy to secure an agreement on naval disarmament among nations which have found themselves able to agree on nothing else. And as for the Four Power Treaty, it is a fair prediction that this pact will some day rank as a master-stroke of far-sighted and efficient diplomacy, great in its influence for the preservation of peace. If these Washington agreements, by reason of delayed ratification in Europe, have not yet been endowed with their full force and effect, it is through no fault of the American Administration. So far as America is concerned, the ratifications are complete.

It would probably have been better for the world, and better for the United States, if the outstanding lesson of the Washington Conference had been more earnestly taken to heart. This conference demonstrated, in as far as such a thing is susceptible of occult demonstration, that an international consensus on even the most important questions affecting the peace of mankind is possible under one condition: namely, that America is ready to supply the initiative and the guidance. It is apparently not within the range of possibilities under any other condition. There appeared to be some ground for hoping, a year ago, that the success of the Washington Conference would be followed up by the exercise of American initiative on a broader scale. The occasion was opportune, but the Administration halted and let it pass. Possibly it feared that the sentiment of the country would not rally to such action, and it may be that this fear was justified. To neither of the two great political parties have the lessons of 1918-1980 been forgotten; in both there is a disinclination to let the country be drawn into anything that might be regarded as an ‘entanglement,' with a resulting hostile reaction from the electorate.

The fundamental reason for so little display of America's international leadership in 1923 is that there was so much of it in 1919. Mr. Wilson, misjudging the attitude of his own countrymen, went too far and too fast. In the terminology of football, he 'ran ahead of his interference.' Permanent gains are not made by that process. So one can hardly blame Mr. Hughes if he prefers to move circumspectly; it would profit neither America nor the world were he to begin any enterprise that the mind of this country would not permit him to finish. The Administration cannot well take the lead in helping Europe out of political and financial chaos until the people of the United States are ready, not alone to tolerate, but to support it in so doing. That time may be approaching; there are some indications that it is. Meanwhile, the Administration has endeavored to maintain contact with the European situation through the medium of 'observers' and other representatives, whose status is unofficial but whose authority to speak the mind of the State Department is usually clear enough. From unofficial to official participation in a world conference will be but a short and easy step, when the time arrives, if it ever does arrive.

Apart from the hesitancy of public opinion in the United States, there is another factor of considerable importance in the situation. Europe has not, thus far, been willing to give politics a rest. Every attempt to settle such questions as reparations, sanctions, and the stabilization of finances, has been frustrated, during the past two years, by the exigencies of politics in the various countries concerned; and it is likely that such failures will be repeated so long as politicians continue to dominate the conferences. The main question at these periodical gatherings has not been, 'What is the best thing to do?’ but 'What is the most politic thing to do?'—in other words, what action will best conduce to save a ministry's face, or keep it from tottering to ruin?

There is one way, therefore, in which Europe can hasten official assistance from America, if such is genuinely desired. This way is to adjourn politics for a season so far as international questions are concerned. Secretary Hughes, in his address at New Haven last December, indicated the channel through which this might be most easily accomplished. The fundamental trouble comes from the continued disorganization of finance and credit; the immediate desideratum is to restore these things to a stable basis. That is not a task for politicians, whether great or small. It is a job for a body of financial end economic experts, whose livelihood does not depend upon the popularity of their findings among the people of their respective countries. It is true that no plan for the alleviation of Europe's acute problems, if worked out by a body of experts, would be ineffective unless agreed to by the various governments; but a government would find it much easier to concur in an unpopular solution reached in this way than in one reached by any other procedure. Before America can be of real assistance in Europe, therefore, some reorientation must take place overseas. England desires America's participation as a restraining hand upon the impatience of France. France, in turn, desires it in so far (but only in so far) as it may help compel the performance of German obligations. And Germany desires American intervention, to the end that the provisions of the Versailles Treaty may be relaxed. As for the other countries of Europe, they desire America to stretch a hand across the sea, but not an empty hand. At all European discussions of American participation in the affairs of the distracted Continent, there has been too much emphasis upon what America might do if she were sufficiently generous – as generous as she seemed to be five years ago.

It is small wonder that Mr. Hughes should hesitate to take any step which might be construed as an encouragement to these diverse expectations. For the present, at least, America will enter no permanent political compact for the regulation of world-affairs. That is, or ought to be, a self-evident proposition. For the present, at least, the United States will participate in no attempted solution of Europe's economic situation based upon the cancellation of Europe's indebtedness to this country. The time may come, indeed is likely to come, when public opinion in the United States will support a different attitude; but that time is not yet. There are indications that both Europeans and Americans are gradually approaching a common point of view on the underlying facts of the existing world-situation; but the process is necessarily slow. Any attempt to hasten it unduly might be productive of serious harm. Watchful waiting, as the current of public opinion slowly undergoes essential change, is rarely a popular policy. Mr. Wilson found this to be the case; Mr. Harding cannot expect to find it otherwise.


Turning from foreign to domestic affairs during the past two years, what has the Harding Administration managed to accomplish? The record here is not altogether barren of results, but it comes perilously near being so. Two sessions of Congress have virtually been frittered away. There has not been hood produced, during those two sessions, a single constructive piece of legislation that compares with the Congressional landmarks of the Wilson period. Throughout the years from 1913 to 1919 the Republican leaders bitterly criticized the way in which one monumental enactment after another was driven through Congress, with the full force of the President's influence behind it. They roundly denounced this 'executive usurpation of legislative power.' Recall the passage of the Adamson Law, for example. How the organs of Republican opinion throughout the country fanned themselves into indignation over what they termed the browbeating of Congress at the instance of the railway brotherhoods! The sole purpose of the measure, they cried out, was to help procure Mr. Wilson's reelection. Well, if this law was born in iniquity, it is iniquitous still. And being so, one might have expected an overwhelmingly Republican Congress to lose no time in remedying this great wrong of 1916. During two whole sessions, however, a Republican Congress has not altered one jot or one tittle of the Adamson Law; neither has a Republican President recommended that it do anything of the sort.

The present outgoing Congress has abolished certain taxes, notably the excess-profits tax; it has revised the tariff and increased the duties on imports; it has doled out to the farmer some concessions, which thus far have profited him little. It has reduced the strength of the navy, cut down the army, and, to a rather disappointing degree, has redeemed the promise that the burden of national expenditures would be diminished. But it has shown no such constructive power as might properly have been expected from a reconstruction Congress. Rare opportunities have gone by default. It has idled, and in idling has opened its mind to mischief. The break-down of party lines and the substitution of bloc government, to the extent that this has taken place, is in indication of the way in which the discipline of both Houses has deteriorated. Mr. Harding has not actively encouraged this bloc development; he is on record as deploring it. But he has not thrown the weight of his administration against it, as Cleveland, Roosevelt, or Wilson would have done. Standing on a strict interpretation of his place in the American scheme of government, the President can disclaim responsibility for what Congress does or fails to do; but the country will not accept any such disclaimer nowadays. By the unwritten constitution of the United States the President is the titular leader of his party. He must either undertake the task of loading it in person, or must see that the party is provided with leadership from elsewhere. The mind of the average citizen makes no distinction between the President as the nation's chief executive and the President as the field-marshal of his party. It is much easier to fix responsibility upon one man than upon five hundred, that nine out of every ten voters will follow this line of less resistance when it comes to assigning either praise or blame.

One cannot say, on the other hand, that Mr. Harding has been altogether lacking in courage or in persistence. It took courage to veto the soldiers' bonus bill; it has taken persistence to advocate the ship-subsidy measure so steadfastly as the President has done. Mr. Harding's messages to Congress, with the exception of his inaugural address, have shown no disposition to stand neutral, evade, or plead in avoidance. When he has convictions, he seems to have the courage of them, But many problems have found him without clear convictions, or, at any rate, without convictions which the country could recognize as clear and unequivocal. Nor should this occasion any surprise. Many years ago when Mr. Harding framed a set of rules for the guidance of his fellow-workers in the office of the Marion Star the first of his axioms was this: 'Remember there are two sides to every question. Get both.' But the trouble with this rule, in its application to a man in high public office, is that a given situation may entirely change while the process of hearing both sides goes on.

That is what happened last summer daring the shopmen's strike. The President edged to one side and then to tine other, ultimately emerging with a compromise, after the psychological moment for it had gone by. Had he stood upon his initial position, which is that the rulings of the Railway Labor Board must be implicitly obeyed by all parties, he would have made a far better impression upon all concerned. The emergency created by this strike has passed without disaster to the country; but thus far not a finger has been lifted at Washington to ensure that a similar emergency will not come upon us again. The President desires, of course, that freight rates shall be reduced; and in this the members of the agricultural bloc can be counted upon to support him enthusiastically. But he has shown no indications of a readiness to tackle the other end of the transportation problem, which is the problem of deflating the high scale of wages now being paid to all classes of railway labor. Abolishing the Railway Labor Board, and transferring its functions to the Interstate Commerce Commission, will not achieve this end. On no problem of domestic policy is the country more in need of presidential leadership than on this; yet from no quarter is leadership in sight.


In American politics, it is usually dangerous to make predictions. It is doubly dangerous when world-conditions are in so kaleidoscopic a situation as they are just now. It is a safe prediction, however, that, if the Republican party, in full control of the national government, can make no more impressive record during the next twenty months than it has made during the past twenty-four, its leaders will have a deal of explaining to do when the electorate calls for an accounting in 1924. This does not mean, of course, that a Democratic triumph is already in sight. Far from it, despite the obtrusive optimism that exists in the ranks of the Democracy to-day. The Democratic Party presents for the moment the outward semblance of harmony; but this is only because the party, as such, has had no occasion during the past two years to pronounce itself on any great issue of public policy. Put it to the test to-morrow, and what would be its attitude on America's participation in Europe's affairs? Would it be any nearer unity than it was in 1920? It is easy enough to say that Mr. Harding is not leading the Republicans along the forward path; but who is leading the Democrats in any direction? Nor is it to be forgotten that on one question of internal policy, which is steadily looming larger, namely, the relaxing of the Volstead Law, it will be more difficult to prevent defections from the Democratic than from the Republican ranks when the show-down comes.

There is no good ground, moreover, for the assumption that the Republicans alone will suffer from the disintegration of party allegiance which is now going on by reason of sectional and vocational unrest. The bloc movement, with all that it implies, is bound to cut both ways. When the Western farmer, a little more than a quarter of a century ago, broke clear of his old party allegiance it was not the Republicans who suffered most. In some respects the developments of to-day are headed toward 1896, rather than toward 1912.