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SILAS WRIGHT BURT
American politician
(1830 - 1912)

It is difficult to estimate the cost of a great presidential campaign. There is no doubt but what it might be measured by millions of dollars, apart from the loss involved in the general destruction of business. It has been said that frequent elections have their value in keeping alive public interest in public affairs, and in educating the people upon the great questions that are to be solved. But when we recollect that a great part of the expenses of the campaign are spent in badges, torchlight processions and other appeals to the imagination and sensation rather than to reason, it seems probable that a very large part of this expenditure is practically valueless, so far as the education of the people is concerned, and is really spent to pervert their intelligence.
      - [Election Day]

Parties are an essential part of representative governments, and can be effective only by organization; but when organization degenerates into a brutal machinery that stifles intelligence and true patriotism, the republic is moribund. As the perfunctory and bigoted exercise of the suffrage has gradually extinguished much of the manhood of American citizenship, so the restoration of intelligence, conscience and individual independence in this prime duty will be the sole effective means of curing many existing evils and preventing others that might be equally dangerous.
      - [Election Day]

The large use of money, both before and after election, in the political campaigns of the present day, is a phase of modern public life that represents one of the great changes in our political methods since our forefathers established and practiced the principles laid down in the constitution. The constitution, as we know, was based on the pure democratic idea of government, in which all power and initiative should proceed from the people themselves. Gradually we have substituted for this, which we might call a spontaneous expression of the people, a mechanism by which, instead of the people's instructing their delegates, the presumption is that the delegates are going to instruct the people. In other words, we have absolutely inverted the original idea that lay at the basis of our political fabric.
      - [Election Day]


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