The day of the true statesman is here; the day of the demagogue is done! The rule of the orator is over the ideals and hopes of men. The demagogue prostitutes this power. His rule is over the passions, prejudices, and resentments of men. He cries aloud in the market-place, and rogues and ward-heelers, and evil-minded politicians, group themselves around him. He waves his sceptre over the vulgar and the rascals of the town.
The vital problem of municipal reform is not the shattering of the ring, the overturning of the boss, the gagging of a few loud tongues. It is the problem of the training of better bosses; the education of men and women in social control; their enlightenment, from childhood up, in civic duties, in national affairs, and the conduct of civil power. Thereupon oratory turns to its higher ends. Through statesman, preacher, and political teacher, it cries aloud of righteousness. I look for the time when the typical politician shall be an honorable man; when to be “in the ring” of municipal or national control shall mean to be an integral and orderly part of the administration of God’s great world; when city life shall be purified; and when international law shall be the interpretation of the will of the Almighty for the rule of nations. We have honest doctors, lawyers, tradesmen; shall we not have an honest politician and an upright ward-boss?
Public service is a god-like service! Our Presidents shall more and more be chosen, not alone for ideas, experience, or for party affiliations: the President shall be chosen because he is a moral hero! Something has stirred in the heart of the American people, which shall not soon be stilled: a spiritual outlook upon political preferment. In the White House we long to have the great spiritual exemplars of our race. Not alone in church shall we offer up a “Prayer before Election.” The time is coming when each true ballot-slip shall be a prayer.
Within the next fifty years shall be determined some of the greatest questions of history. Among them shall be questions of industrial adjustment and development, and of social progress. We must have in our Cabinet not only the representatives of War and State, of Finance, Trade, Labor, and Agriculture; but also of Education and of Social Health. This is not a dream. You and I may live to see the results of this religious awakening: it is elemental and epochal.
Back of all individual dominion there is rising a yet higher dominion—the dominion of the English-speaking race. We, having been called by the providence of God to stand at the head of the march of progress, may well ask ourselves concerning our imperial powers. The line of progress for a nation is to allow no spiritual ideal to stagnate or to retrograde. The spiritual aspiration of a nation always dominates what is called the Social Mind. We grow toward what we worship. It is ours to plant the dominion of civilization in foreign lands, and to supplant a waning culture by a richer, truer, and nobler way of life. The first thought of each of us, entering these new lands, whether merchant, soldier, educator, or missionary, should be to hold Christ aloft, that all tribes may come to His light, and kings to the brightness of His rising.