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[To be released Saturday p. m., June 20,1914.]
Duty and Opportunity of the Present Ruling Majority in





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L. O W E N ,

O K LA H O M A ,

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S a tu rd a y, J u n e 20, 191k-

Mr. OWEN. Mr. President, the Democratic national plat­
form includes the following pledge:
W e call attention to the fact that the Democratic Party’s demand
for a return to a rule of the people, expressed in the national platform
four years ago, has now become the accepted doctrine of a large
majority of the electors.
W e again remind the country that only by
the larger exercise of the reserved power of the people can they pro­
tect themselves from the misuse of delegated power and the usurpation
of governmental instrumentalities by special interests. For this reason
the national convention insisted upon the overthrow of Cannonism and
the inauguration of a system by which the United States Senators
could be elected by direct vote. The Democratic Party offers itself to
the country as an agency through which the complete overthrow and
extirpation of corruption, fraud, and machine rule in American politics
can be effected.

No plank in the Democratic platform was o f greater im­
portance than the pledge to overthrow corruption, fraud, and
machine rule in politics. Machine rule and corruption in party
government has been the bane o f both the Republican and Demo­
cratic Parties, and one of the greatest difficulties in the way of
perfecting true and honest democratic government.
The means by which machine rule and corruption have accom­
plished their sinister designs are perfectly well understood,
and the remedy is perfectly well understood by students of
The Democratic Party and the members of the Republican
party as well, should join with enthusiasm in eliminating cor­
ruption and machine rule. The Republican Party was torn in
half by machine rule in Chicago in 1912. No Senator on this
floor, I believe, would venture to say that he thought it a wise
policy to permit in any way machine rule, fraud, or corruption
in our election machinery. But no individual seems to feel
charged with the responsibility of preparing the necessary meas­
ure and urging its passage which will make effective the right
of the people to express themselves freely and to have au­
thoritative knowledge of the claims o f the candidates and of
measures and have their will made effective.
I propose, therefore, a resolution charging the Committee on
Privileges and Elections with this duty, in the hope that it
may meet with the sympathetic cooperation not only o f all
Democrats, but of all the Republican and Progressive Senators
as well.
To facilitate these reforms I have prepared and submit here­
with four proposed bills.



First. The first law requiring important amendment is the
law preventing private individuals from contributing unlimited
amounts of money in the campaigns relating to the Presidency
and to the Members of Congress and Senators. I have had this
statute carefully examined and prepared by one of the ablest
experts in the United States on this question. Mr. George H.
Shibley, and I have introduced it and had it referred to the
Committee on Privileges and Elections, Senate bill 5810.
The present law permits any amount of contribution to be
made and expended by private persons in relation to these elec­
tions and permits intrastate committees the liberty of doing as
they please with regard to the nomination and election of Sen­
ators and Congressmen, without any conditions being imposed
by the Federal law. The plan which I have proposed is to lay
down a minimum o f requirements in the way o f contributions and
expenditures by corporations, committees, or individuals; and
if passed, this bill will have an important effect upon diminish­
ing fraud in the election o f Congressmen and Senators, and
would have an important effect on overthrowing machine rule
and corruption.


Second. In order to enable the people to have knowledge of
the claims of the candidates or the public measures upon which
they vote there should be a public pamphlet issued at Govern­
ment expense and delivered by Government Postal Service to the
hands of each citizen, giving proper space to each candidate
and to each measure voted on. In like manner, I have had
prepared and submitted a bill, Senate bill 5865, covering this
subject. This bill would permit a man without wealth to make
the race for the Senate, and also for Congress, and would place
his claims before every voter. The bill proposes a partial con­
tribution, so as to prevent irresponsible candidates entering the

Third. I propose a preferential ballot in order to prevent
minority or plurality nominations, which is the most important
instrument in the hands o f the machine politicians who have
always a highly organized, militant minority under their con­
trol, led by captains and lieutenants. They divide the un­
organized but more honest majority into three or four or more
groups by bringing out a number of unsophisticated candidates,
each of whom can command a popular following because of indi­
vidual merit, and with an organized minority of twenty to
thirty per cent o f the voters, aided by selfish interests and by
fraud, the machine can put over its plurality nomination and
win the party nomination and then demand party allegiance
and party loyalty in support of their unfairly minority-nomi­
nated candidate.
The preferential ballot automatically coheres a majority of
electors in favor o f the candidate most acceptable to the ma­
jority and destroys the plurality nomination, which, as I have
stated, is the chief agency of the political machine. The Demo­
cratic Party can not make effective its platform pledge unless
it disarms the political machine. I have had prepared a suitable
statute, as above, on this point, Senate bill 5S09, which I urgently
commend to the attention o f the Senate, not only the Democrats

but the Republicans as well, because it is equally important to
honest Republicans as to honest Democrats that a majority of
the Republicans should be permitted to nominate candidates
acceptable to a majority o f their party members, as it is to the
Democrats to have the right to nominate candidates acceptable
to a majority of their members.
I remind the Senate that the preferential ballot was adopted
by both branches of Congress in the Federal reserve act, sec­
tion 4, for the selection of the directors of the 12 Federal reserve
banks, and this system is perfectly well understood by the

Fourth. I have also had drawn in like manner Senate bill
5864, to define corrupt practices in connection with campaigns
for the nomination or election of United States Senators and
Congressmen, and to provide punishment therefor. I believe
that every Senator will agree, whether he be Democrat or Re­
publican or Progressive, in the importance o f having the nomi­
nations and elections of the Congressmen and Senators free
from corrupt practices.
These and other steps are obviously necessary to carry out
the pledge of the Democratic national platform at Baltimore, in
which the Democratic Party offered itself to the country as
“ an a g e n c y th ro u g h w h ic h th e c o m p le te o v e r th r o w a n d e x tir p a ­
tio n o f c o r r u p t io n , f r a u d , a n d m a c h in e r u le in A m e r ic a n p o litic s
ca n

he e ffe c te d .”

I think we should provide for the nomination o f candidates
for the Presidency and the Vice Presidency by the preferential
primary ballot, and that proper statutes should be drawn and
enacted covering this point along the line recommended by the
President in his annual message last December.
The Democratic platform upon this point declared:
The movement toward more popular government should be promoted
through legislation in each State which will permit the expression of
the electors for national candidates at presidential primaries.

In order to have uniformity in the 48 States. Congress should
lay down a few fundamental rules, which would be a minimum
condition imposed upon the States in this legislation. At pres­
ent Congress requires the States to conform to certain rules in
selecting Senators, and the constitutionality of the imposition
upon the States of a reasonable requirement in regard to this
matter will not be denied, since it is the practice o f a hundred
The State primaries on presidential, senatorial, and con­
gressional candidates could be ordered to take place the second
Tuesday in June, beginning in 1916, and the national conven­
tion authorized and required to meet within 30 days thereafter
for the sole purpose of ratifying the primaries and writing the
The conventions should consist of nominees for Congress, for
the Senate, and of hold-over Senators not defeated in the
The Federal Government within its sphere is as sovereign as
are the States within their sphere, and the Federal Government
can and should by statute indicate the minimum requirements
that should be provided by the laws of the several States in

perfecting the right of the Federal Government to have its
officers nominated and elected by a majority of the people,
safeguarded against fraud and corruption. If the minimum
requirements are not provided by the State law, then the
Federal requirement should apply, as in the case of the recent
statute for the election of Senators.
If the Democratic Party now in power leaves the country un­
der tlie machine-rule system, with the door wide open to fraudu­
lent practices in nominating and electing Senators and Members
o f Congress, after its solemn promise to the American people
and after it has been trusted with i>ower by the American people,
for the chief purpose of controlling the special interests and
the vicious alliance between corrupt business and corrupt poli­
tics, it will undoubtedly receive severe condemnation for vio­
lating these vital promises so intimately affecting integrity of
I move, therefore, the following resolution :
Whereas the party now in power appealed to the American people in
1912 upon the following statem en t:
“ The Democratic Party offers itself to the country as an agency
through which the complete overthrow and extirpation of corrup­
tion, fraud, and machine rule in American politics can be effected; ”
Whereas it is the sincere desire of all patriotic men of every party to
terminate corruption in governm ent:
Resolved, That the Committee on Privileges and Elections prepare the
bills necessary to more strictly control corruption, fraud, and machine
politics in the nomination and election of the officers of the United
States, and to enable the people to have authoritative knowledge with
regard to the claims of candidates.