But when you are unable to convince the majority of your party associates that they are wrong; when they think that you are the person who is wrong, fall in line with them and march in the ranks, battling even more vigorously than you would had you prevailed. If the majority were right and you were wrong, you ought to help execute their views. If the majority were wrong and you were right, the earlier that fact is demonstrated the better for you and everybody.
So keep step with your rank and file, whether your party does what you think it ought to do or not on matters of passing moment. But I repeat, on large issues which come to your conscience—on questions which you think affect the destiny of the Nation, you are a traitor to the Republic if, in spite of your convictions, you stand by your party and against your country.
But to break with your party on minor issues is foolish. A certain class is coming to regard leaving one’s party as a smart thing. But it is not a smart thing. Quitting your party does not necessarily mean independence. It may mean that, and then again it may mean stupidity; and still again it may only mean a “sore head,” as the political phrase has it.
In a country as old as ours there finally comes to be in politics a fundamental division. There is the constructive and progressive on the one side, and the destructive and reactionary on the other side. These are merely the centripetal and centrifugal forces of nature at work in human society. Usually it is found that one of these parties is naturally the Governing Party, and the other one is naturally the Party of Opposition.
Not only your judgment but your instincts will tell you, young man, to which one of these forces you belong. Each has its uses. You can well serve your country in either organization. It is merely a question as to whether you are in character and temperament a builder, a doer of things, or a critic of things done and the doing of them. Each is necessary.
I have no quarrel with your partizan creed, no matter what it is. That is your business. But whatever you are, be National. Be broad. Do not be deceived by catchwords. Remember that this is a Nation in the making. When the first railroad was built across the boundaries of states it modified old-time interpretations of our Constitution.
Telegraph and telephone wires, steam and electric railways, all the means of instantaneous communication which this wizard-like age of ours is weaving from ocean to ocean, are consolidating the American people into a single family.
Natural conditions and the ordinary progress of industry and invention are making old methods inadequate and unjust. So keep abreast of the growing Nation in your political thinking. Solve all American problems from the view-point of the Nation, and not from the view-point of state or section. Consider the American people as a People, and not as a lot of separate and hostile communities. Be National. Be an American. Know but one flag.