Elements of Debating Part 16

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With one breath we are asked to renounce the old system because the people make mistakes, and with the next breath we are solemnly a.s.sured that if we adopt the new system the people will not make mistakes. I confess I am not mentally alert enough to follow that sort of logic.

It is too much like the road which was so crooked that the traveler who entered upon it had only proceeded a few steps when he met himself coming back. You cannot change the nature of men, Mr. Chairman, by changing their system of government. The limitations of human judgment and knowledge and conscience which render perfection in representative government unattainable will still abide even after that form of government is swept away, and the ideal will still be far distant.

Let it not be said or imagined, Mr. Speaker, that because I protest against converting this Republic into a democracy therefore I lack confidence in the people. No man has greater faith, sir, than I have in the intelligence, the integrity, the patriotism, and the fundamental common sense of the average American citizen. But I am for representative rather than for direct government, because I have greater confidence in the second thought of the people than I have in their first thought. And that, in the last a.n.a.lysis, is the difference, and the only difference, so far as results are concerned between the new system and that which it seeks to supplant; it is the fundamental difference between a democracy and a republic. In either form of government the people have their way. The difference is that in a democracy the people have their way in the beginning, whereas in a republic the people have their way in the end--and the end is usually enough wiser than the beginning to be worth waiting for.

We count ourselves the fittest people in the world for self-government, and we probably are. But fit as we are we sometimes make mistakes. We sometimes form the most violent and erroneous opinions upon impulse, without full information or thoughtful consideration. With complete information and longer study, we swing around to the right side, but it is our second thought and not our first that brings us there. Our intentions are always right, and we usually get right in the end; but it often happens that we are not right in the beginning. It behooves us to consider long and well before we pluck out of the delicately adjusted mechanism by which we govern ourselves the checks and brakes and balance wheels which our forefathers placed there, and the wisdom of which our history attests innumerable times.

The simple and primitive life of civilization's frontier has given way to the most stupendous and complex industrial and commercial structure the world has ever known. Incredible expansion, social, political, industrial, commercial--but representative government all the way. At not one step in the long and s.h.i.+ning pathway of the Nation's progress has representative government failed to respond to the Nation's need. Every emergency that 130 years of momentous history has developed--the terrible strain of war, the harra.s.sing problems of peace--representative government has been equal to them all. Not once has it broken down. Not one issue has it failed to solve. And long after the shallow subst.i.tutes that are now proposed for it shall have been forgotten, representative government "will be doing business at the old stand," will be solving the problems of the future as it met the issues of the past, with courage and wisdom and justice, giving to the great Republic that government "of the people, for the people, and by the people" which is the a.s.surance that it "shall not perish from the earth."




Below are several questions with issues suggested which should bring about a "head on" debate. They should be useful at the beginning of debating work or when time for preparation is somewhat limited. A brief bibliography is in each case appended.



I. Woman wants the ballot.

II. Woman is capable of using the ballot wisely.

III. Where woman has had the ballot, the results have been beneficial to the state.


I. A majority of women do not want the ballot.

II. Woman is incapable of using the ballot wisely.

III. A benefit has not resulted in those states which have given woman the right to vote.


"Success of Woman's Suffrage," _Independent_, LXXIII, 334-35 (August 8, 1912).

"Suffrage Danger," _Living Age_, CCLXXIV, 330-35 (August 10, 1912).

"Teaching Violence to Women," _Century_, Lx.x.xIV, 151-53 (May, 1912).

"Violence in Woman's Suffrage Movement: A Disapproval of the Militant Policy," _Century_, Lx.x.xV, 148-49 (November, 1912).

"Violence and Votes," _Independent_, LXXII, 1416-19 (June 27 1912).

"Votes for Women," _Harper's Weekly_, LVI, 6 (September 21, 1912).

"Votes for Women," _Harper's Bazaar_ XLVI, 47, 148 (January, March, 1912).

"Votes for Women and Other Votes," _Survey_, XXVIII, 367-78 (June 1, 10.12).

"What Is the Truth about Woman's Suffrage?" _Ladies' Home Journal_, XXIX, 24 (October, 1912).

"Why I Want Woman's Suffrage," _Collier's,_ XLVIII, 18 (March 16, 1912).

"Why I Went into Suffrage Work," _Harper's Bazaar_, XLVI, 440 (September, 1912).

"Woman and the State," _Forum_, XLVIII, 394-408 (October 1912).

"Woman and the Suffrage," _Harper's Weekly_, LVI, 6 (August 17, 1912).

"Woman's Rights," _Outlook_, _C_, 262-66 (February 3, 1912).

"Woman's Rights," _Outlook_, _C_, 302-4 (February 10, 1912).

"Concerning Some of the Anti-Suffrage Leaders," _Good House-keeping_, LV, 80-82 (July, 1912).

"Expansion of Equality," _Independent_, LXXIII, 1143-45 (November 14, 1912).

"Marching for Equal Suffrage," _Hearst's Magazine_, XXI, 2497-501 (June, 1912).

"Woman and the California Primaries," _Independent_, LXXII, 1316-18 (June 13, 1912).

"Woman Suffrage Victory," _Literary Digest_, XLV, 841-43 (November 23, 1912).

"Woman's Demonstration; How They Won and Used the Votes in California," _Collier's_, XLVIII, 17-18 (January 6, 1912).

"Recent Strides of Woman's Suffrage," _World's Work_, XXII, 14733-45 (August, 1911).

"Woman's Suffrage in Six States," _Independent_, LXXI, 967-20 (November 2, 1911).

"Women Did It in Colorado," _Hampton's Magazine_, XXVI, 426.

"Woman's Victory in Was.h.i.+ngton" (state), _Collier's,_ XLVI, 25.

"Are Women Ready for the Franchise?" _Westminster_, CLXII, 255-61 (September, 1904).

"Argument against Woman's Suffrage," _Outlook_, LXIV, 573-74 (March 10, 1900).

"Check to Woman's Suffrage in the United States," _Nineteenth Century_, LVI, 833-41 (November, 1904).

"Female Suffrage in the United States," _Harper's Weekly_, XLIV, 949-50 (October 6, 1900).

"Ought Women to Vote?" _Outlook_, LVIII, 353-55 (June 8, 1901).

Elements of Debating Part 16

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