Nicholas Longworth '91, speaker of the United States House of Representatives, and Theodore Roosevelt '08, former assistant Secretary of the navy and more recently unsuccessful candidate for Governor of New York, have granted interviews to the Crimson in which they advocate more emphasis on governmental teaching in colleges and emphasize the need for and opportunities for college graduates in political life.
"College men, no matter what their walks of life after graduation, will find it increasingly necessary to understand the political aspect of society, as well as the economic, during the coming years," said speaker Longworth.
"I heartily endorse a movement toward focusing the attention of college men upon the governmental machinery of their country, and believe that their cooperation is necessary to the conduct of civic affairs, whether they seek public office for themselves, or not. While it cannot be contended that a college education is necessary for political success, still it is a great advantage, for college life closely resembles the life of politics.
Political Education Needed
"All college men need some political education, but to make political life a definite career, a man under modern conditions must resolve upon it as his sole career. He must devote practically his whole time to it, and must give up any thought of improving his financial condition. Any thing less is not doing his whole duty to government. It is, of course, possible for a man to be active in private professional affairs and also active publicly, but such a man ought not attempt to hold public office for long periods.
Should Start in Public Life When Young
"Some men, who have been able to make a fortune early in life may be of great service to the community in public office, after retirement, but from my experience I think it rare that a man who has given all his early life to private affairs makes a good public official. It is very nearly essential that a public servant shall have started when young in public office, and whether he holds public office continually for years or not shall have acquired the faculty not of oratory, but of easy address, and of clear consecutive thinking and statements. This ease of address is rarely acquired late in life.
"For the bulk of men who have neither the bent toward public life, nor the ability to insure early retirement. I wish the pleasures which come from the contact greater field than their own community There is work there for all college men, present lack of curiosity in those subjects seems to be giving away to a general interest in all that has to do with their world, of which this is one very great phase."
Theodore Roosevelt '08, son of President Roosevelt, emphasized the need of more participation and interest in politics.
"What we need primarily, of course, in this country, is a more general interest in government", he said. "Men and women, no matter how busy, ought to take an interest in the issues of the day and ought to turn out to register their opinions in both primaries and elections. Next to this, we need as many honest and intelligent men in professional politics as we can get.
College Men's Money Helpful
"In this category college men should qualify, for they have had exceptional opportunities. In addition, many college men have some money. Though it is not absolutely necessary to have outside means when you go into politics, it is not only convenient but it helps a man to think and act straight. We all rightly blame the public official who thinks simply in terms of popularity and wants, like the Vicar of Bray, to hold office at all costs. If, however, a man's livelihood and that of his children depends on holding office, it makes it very hard for him to decide to go against public opinion, no matter how wrong he may think it.
Law School Valuable Training
"If some friend of mine in college came to me and said he wanted to go into politics, I would suggest first that he take a course at the law school and pass with and the understanding of political life, if they seek these pleasures in no his bar examinations. This would give him not only valuable training, but also an occupation when defeated, as he surely will be at times. I did not take a law course and am sorry for it.
"When he had finished his law course, I would tell him to start at once and to start as a professional politician. In politics, as in sport, the old maxim holds, 'a third rate pro is an over-match for the best of amateurs'. He will have to begin at the bottom. Politics is no different from any other profession. You cannot start at the top. I have had many friends who at one time or another thought they would like to enter politics, or 'public service' as they generally preferred to call it. Too often they have decided that they wanted to begin by being, let us say, a congressman, and have retired in high dudgeon when they found that they could not expect more than a membership on the county committee, and even that they would have to fight for. The man who wishes to be valuable in politics should first become recognized as district leader and county committeeman. Office holding will come after this.
Party Men Have Most Influence
"At a party convention, the men whose opinions are valued are those who represent delegates. When there is a conference on candidates or policies the men who are called to that conference are those whose opinions will be taken by groups of the delegates at the convention. Even when the state is a direct primary state, party machinery has a very large influence and those who control the party machinery are the men whose influence counts.
"College men who have the bent and can afford it should go into politics. They should look facts in the face when they do. It is hard work and at times very disappointing work. It is, however, the most interesting work there is. Above all, there is the satisfying knowledge that win or lose, you are trying to do something for the country.
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