Something New in Politics, ca. December 1912



The idea of any great political party organizing its work on the basis of serving the people, especially when not in office, would have been laughed to scorn a few years ago. It is still regarded with skepticism by the old-time politicians.

One of the ablest of the field generals who has handled the game of politics for 50 years, when at work on the plans, said:

"Well, this gets me. I can mass thousands of men and handle brigades of speakers, and tons of literature in a campaign, but when it comes to the work you fellows have in mind, my education begins; and I don't say there's not something in it."

The National Committee, and later the Executive Committee of the Progressive Party, has organized the progressive movement on the basis of serving the interests of the people, with measures as well as with men, and plans to work every day in the year, shoulder to shoulder with other earnest workmen, in building a better democracy.

The National Committee work is therefore divided into four departments:

Organization, in charge of National Committeeman Walter Brown, of Ohio, as Chairman. Mr. Brown will select a committee subject to the approval of the Executive Committee, which will have charge of all matters affecting candidates, offices, party machinery, party organization, etc.

Progressive Service, in charge of National Committeeman Frances A. Kellor, as Chairman. The Committee, as approved by the Executive Committee, includes Samuel McCune Lindsay, of New York; Jane Addams, of Illinois; Gifford Pinchot, of the District of Columbia; Charles S. Bird, of Massachusetts; George L. Record, of New Jersey, and William D. Lewis, of Pennsylvania. This Committee will have the supervision of two bureaus to be conducted by committees, one on education and research, which has not yet been started, and one on [page 2] Legislative Reference. The Executive Committee approved the following members of the committee, which will immediately take up the matter of establishing a legislative reference bureau on a national scale, for the use of all parties:

Dean William D. Lewis, University of Pennsylvania

Dean George W. Kirchway of Columbia University

Prof. Charles R. Merriam of Chicago University

Herbert Knox Smith, Connecticut

Gifford Pinchot, Washington

Dr. Walter Weyl, of New York

Jane Addams, Chicago

James R. Garfield, Ohio

Francis J. Heney, California

The Progressive Service Committee, as soon as funds will permit, will take up the creation of committees under social and industrial justice, conservation, popular government and cost of living, and corporation control, for the purpose of co-operating with organizations and persons already at work on these subjects, and to formulate and focus public opinion of progressive principles.

Publicity, with National Committeeman William Allen White, as Chairman, who will select his committee; which will maintain headquarters in Washington, and have charge of the news service.

Finance, with the treasurer, Mr. E. H. Hooker, as Chairman, who will select his committee. The subscriptions for the general expenses of the National Committee are limited to $1,000, and are apportioned among the States so that a thoroughly widespread representation will be given.

These four chairmen, together with the officers of the Committee, will be primarily responsible for the dissemination of progressive ideas and principles.

The Progressive Service will urge that each state establish a similar service, to be coordinated with the National service. Massachusetts already has an admirable state service plan adapted to all highly organized industrial [page 3] states. The National Service will thus become a clearing house for the state service.

The Progressive Service, national and state, provides a place for women as well as men. In the non-suffrage states while a few women can participate as members of committees, the great rank and file can only be members of clubs. The Service makes it possible for every woman to have a chance for work and for recognition for her work. A suffrage committee will be started immediately for the purpose of aiding in the passage or framing of bills, and to bring Progressive suffrage workers together.

The real idea of the Progressive Service is to bring the interest, enthusiasm, and organization of the progressive movement, into the service of the people, to be used by them for their welfare and advancement.

This, indeed, is in itself an educational measure, when contrasted with the National Committee, whose sole function was naming candidates, wholly irrespective of measures and which went to sleep between campaigns.