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CHAPTER III

THE REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY

Popular Government.-Since the United States is a representative democracy and is attempting to create a government of this sort in the Philippines, it becomes necessary to study this form of government with great care.

In the phrase of Abraham Lincoln the government of the United States is a "government of the people, by the people and for the people," that is, popular government. It is important to remember that not all the people in any democracy take part in the election of public officers and the making of laws. In the most liberal of democracies women, with few exceptions, are excluded from a share in the government. Even in the United States only about one-fifth of the whole population is entitled to vote. Popular government differs in degree in different democracies. What constitutes a democracy is not the number of people who vote but the fact that the people are the source of the laws.

Civil Rights. All the citizens of a state are entitled to the equal protection of the laws and to a proper share in the benefits which the government gives to the people. The most important of these benefits are the protection of life and property, equal justice, freedom to move from place to place, and to choose the occupation which one prefers. These, with some others, are called civil rights. They belong to all, male or female, young or old, rich or poor alike.

It will be noticed that these matters all relate to the "life, liberty, and happiness" of the individual person, hence they are often called personal rights.

Political Rights.-Political rights are the rights which are given to some of the people to vote for public officers and to hold public office. Properly speaking, voting and holding public office are not rights but privileges. The civil rights are called the "rights of man" because it is believed that they belong to every man and woman by birth and that no government can justly take them away. They are the things which it should be the object of every government to secure to all the citizens. But political rights are simply the means by which the government secures civil rights for the citizens. Every state has the right to limit political privileges in the way that it believes will best secure the personal rights of the people.

Therefore when we say that popular government is the best kind of government we do not mean it is the best kind of government for every country. History shows that some popular governments have been destructive of the liberties of the people, because the people were not ready for that kind of government. The first French republic, for example, resulted in a reign of terror, followed by the dictatorship of Napoleon I. The object of government is to secure personal rights; political rights are mere tools that may be changed to suit the needs and conditions of the particular people to be governed.

The Suffrage.-The right to vote for public officers and laws is called the right of suffrage. It is a polit

ical right. As we have said, no state gives this right, or privilege, to all its citizens. It is easy to see that it would be foolish to give it to the insane, to very young people, and to criminals. Every one can see that there are at least two things that should be required of those to whom the suffrage is to be given; they should have a certain amount of intelligence, and they should be friends of the state, and not outlaws.

It is sometimes difficult to say just how much one should know to be qualified to vote. In the United States, where popular education is so efficient and widespread, some states grant the suffrage to all males over twenty-one years of age. In many of the states, however, an educational or property qualification is also required. This often greatly reduces the number of electors. In the opinion of many the suffrage should be still further restricted in the United States. It would certainly be a very foolish step. to grant unlimited suffrage to people like some of the negroes of Africa, who in many cases know hardly enough to build a hut over their heads.

Woman Suffrage.-Even in the United States the full rights of suffrage are not granted to women, except in four states. Many of the women are exceedingly intelligent and possess every qualification of mind and character that the male voters have, but they are not allowed to vote, because the suffrage is not a right but a privilege. This privilege it is not considered necessary to extend to women at present. If the votes of women were necessary to secure civil liberties to the people it would be entirely proper to

grant them the suffrage. We shall learn later in this book what qualifications the government considers necessary for the exercise of the suffrage at the present time in the Philippines.

Majority Rule.-One of the fundamental principles of popular government is the rule of the majority. It must not be thought that this any more than the suffrage is one of the rights of man. It is simply one of the methods of democratic government. If the state thought best it might change this rule. It might require a two-thirds vote for a decision, or even a unanimous vote. There are several reasons why the decisions of the majority should be followed.

Reasons for Majority Rule.-The state is created chiefly by the majority. The taxes of the majority usually pay most of the expenses of the government. If the country is attacked, the lives of the majority form its chief defense. The greater the majority the more clearly this is true. We may say, then, that, as a rule, the majority does more for the minority than the minority does for the majority and therefore it has the right to say what the laws shall be. It is the many who support the few, not the few who support the many.

If one of three children in a family did not like the father it would not be right for him to rebel against his father and prevent him from doing what the other children wished him to do. As long as a child remains in the family and shares in the common benefits of family life he should agree to the decision of the majority of the family. The state resembles a great

family and the will of the majority is the will of the greater number of children.

Those who are not accustomed to obeying the will of the majority often find this hard to do. Majorities are sometimes mistaken; one wise man knows more than a hundred simpletons. Thus it sometimes happens that a majority is composed largely of rash and evil people who have not as much judgment and patriotism as the minority. This will not often occur, however. If it does happen occasionally, it is better to let the will of the majority prevail, for without. this we cannot have popular government. It is better that some mistakes should be made, even if they are great, than that a state should abandon hastily the principle of majority rule.

The Rights of the Minority.-It is the duty of the majority to have some consideration for the opinion of the minority. The opinions of the minority should be attentively heard by the majority. The majority should not make the defeat of the minority hard by scorning them; it should be slow to accuse the minority of being traitors to their country; it should remember that the majority is governing the country for the good of all the people, not simply for the benefit of the successful majority. The excitement of elections, the fiery speeches of rival candidates, and the strong differences of opinion about public affairs in a democracy often make the citizens of a republic act like enemies to each other. After the decision of the election all bitterness should be laid aside and all hard words forgotten. The government is the govern

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