The time I write—mid-July—would seem appropriate for leisurely taking stock of our political parties and their relation to the great issue. Lest some suspicious person see a sea serpent in this article, let me say at once that most public men fight for reëlection to office only because they are not quitters. If the voters are good enough to relieve them, there comes in time a great sense of gratitude for freedom and determination to hold on to that blessed state. And this state develops objectivity. But objectivity in these hours does not imply neutrality.
My concern with political parties to-day is that they perform their prime responsibility. That is, they should align themselves with intellectual honesty and present to the people the opportunity to express their will as to the real issue of our times—possibly the greatest issue of one hundred and sixty years. The essence of the real political contest of to-day is personal liberty, which includes the rights of minorities. To-day that issue is confused in both parties. It is obscured by indecision, by phrases, denials, contradictions, and evasion.
There is a certain obviousness in the statement that political parties are necessary to the functioning of a democracy. Also it is obvious that they must be systematically organized and constructively led. Otherwise the ballot box cannot perform its function of replacing violence or exploding feelings or advancing the welfare of the people. It is equally plain that there cannot be more than two major parties, or the result is government by minority or by negation, which is frustration of democracy. It is likewise obvious that the party out of power has a public responsibility to oppose extreme and irrational action and to oppose it vigorously.