Mizora, by Mary E. Bradley Lane

Chapter 11

The Government of Mizora not being of primary importance in the estimation of the people, I have not made more than a mere mention of it heretofore. In this respect I have conformed to the generally expressed taste of the Mizora people. In my own country the government and the aristocracy were identical. The government offices and emoluments were the highest pinnacles of ambition.

I mentioned the disparity of opinion between Mizora and all other countries I had known in regard to this. I could not understand why politics in Mizora should be of so small importance. The answer was, that among an educated and highly enlightened people, the government will take care of itself. Having been perfected by wise experience, the people allow it to glide along in the grooves that time has made for it.

In form, the government of Mizora was a Federal Republic. The term of office in no department exceeded the limit of five years. The Presidential term of office was for five years.

They had one peculiar — exceedingly peculiar — law in regard to politics. No candidate could come before the public seeking office before having a certificate from the State College to which she belonged, stating her examination and qualifications to fill such an office.

Just like examining for school-teachers, I thought. And why not? Making laws for a State is of far more importance than making them for a few dozen scholars. I remembered to have heard some of my American acquaintances say that in their country it was not always qualifications that get a candidate into office. Some of the ways were devious and not suitable for publicity. Offices were frequently filled by incompetent men. There had been congressmen and other offices of higher and more responsible duties, filled by persons who could not correctly frame a sentence in their native language, who could not spell the simplest words as they were spelled in the dictionary, unless it were an accident.

To seek the office of President, or any other position under the General Government, required an examination and certificate from the National College. The examinations were always public, and conducted in such a manner that imposture was impossible. Constituents could attend if they chose, and decide upon the qualifications of a favorite candidate. In all the public schools, politics — to a certain extent — formed part of the general education of every child. Beyond that, any one having a predilection for politics could find in the State Colleges and National Colleges the most liberal advantages for acquiring a knowledge of political economy, political arithmetic, and the science of government.

Political campaigns, (if such a term could be applicable to the politics of Mizora) were of the mildest possible character. The papers published the names of the candidates and their examinations in full. The people read and decided upon their choice, and, when the time came, voted. And that was the extent of the campaign enthusiasm.

I must mention that the examinations on the science of government were not conducted as are ordinary examinations in any given study that consists of questions and answers. That was the preliminary part. There followed a thorough, practical test of their ability to discharge the duties of office with wisdom. No matter which side the sympathies or affections might be enlisted upon, the stern decree of justice was what the Mizorean abided by. From earliest infancy their minds were trained in that doctrine. In the discharge of all public duties especially, it seemed to be the paramount consideration. Certainly no government machinery ever could move with more ease, or give greater satisfaction to the people, than that of Mizora.

They never appeared to be excited or uneasy about the result of the elections. I never heard an animated political argument, such as I used to read about in America. I asked a politician one day what she thought of the probable success of the opposite party. She replied that it would not make any difference to the country as both candidates were perfectly competent to fill the office.

“Do you never make disparaging statements about the opposing candidate?” was my inquiry.

“How could we?” she asked in surprise, “when there are none to make.”

“You might assume a few for the time being; just to make her lose votes.”

“That would be a crime worthy of barbarians.”

“Do you never have any party issues?”

“No. There is never anything to make an issue of. We all work for the good of the people, and the whole people. There is no greed of glory or gain; no personal ambition to gratify. Were I to use any artifice to secure office or popularity, I should be instantly deprived of public esteem and notice. I do my duty conscientiously; that is the aim of public life. I work for the public good and my popularity comes as it is earned and deserved. I have no fear of being slighted or underrated. Every politician feels and acts the same way.”

“Have politicians ever bought votes with money, or offered bribes by promising positions that it would be in their official power to grant when elected?”

“Never! There is not a citizen of Mizora who would not scorn an office obtained in such a way. The profession of politics, while not to be compared in importance with the sciences, is yet not devoid of dignity. It is not necessary to make new laws. They were perfected long ago, and what has been proven good we have no desire to change. We manage the government according to a conscientious interpretation of the law. We have repealed laws that were in force when our Republic was young, and dropped them from the statute books. They were laws unworthy of our civilization. We have laws for the protection of property and to regulate public morals, and while our civilization is in a state of advancement that does not require them, yet we think it wisdom to let them remain. The people know that we have such laws and live up to them without surveillance. They would abide by the principles of justice set forth in them just as scrupulously if we should repeal them.

“You spoke of bribes. In remote ages, when our country was emerging from a state of semi-barbarism, such things were in common practice. Political chicanery was a name given to various underhand and dishonest maneuvers to gain office and public power. It was frequently the case that the most responsible positions in the Government would be occupied by the basest characters, who used their power only for fraud to enrich themselves and their friends by robbing the people. They deceived the masses by preaching purity. They were never punished. If they were accused and brought to trial, the wealth they had stolen from the government purchased their acquittal, and then they posed as martyrs. The form of government was then, as now, a Federal Republic, but the people had very little to do with it. They were merely the tools of unscrupulous politicians. In those days a sensitively honest person would not accept office, because the name politician was a synonym for flexible principles. It was derogatory to one’s character to seek office.”

“Was dishonesty more prominent in one party than another?” I asked, thinking how very Americanish this history sounded.

“We, who look back upon the conditions of those times and view it with dispassionate judgment, can perceive corruption in both political parties. The real welfare of the country was the last thing considered by a professional politician. There was always something that was to benefit the people brought forward as a party issue, and used as a means of working up the enthusiasm or fears of the people, and usually dropped after the election.

“The candidate for election in those days might be guilty of heinous crimes, yet the party covered them all, and over that covering the partisan newspaper spread every virtue in the calendar. A stranger to the country and its customs reading one of their partisan newspapers during a political campaign, might conclude that the party it advocated was composed of only the virtues of the country, and their leader an epitome of the supremest excellence.

“Reading in the same paper a description of the opposing party, the stranger might think it composed of only the degraded and disreputable portion of the nation, and its leader the scum of all its depravity. If curiosity should induce a perusal of some partisan paper of the other party, the same thing could be read in its columns, with a change of names. It would be the opposite party that was getting represented in the most despicable character, and their leader was the only one who possessed enough honesty and talent to keep the country from going to wreck. The other party leader was the one who was guilty of all the crimes in the calendar. A vast number of people were ignorant enough to cling blindly to one party and to believe every word published by its partisan papers. This superstitious party faith was what the unscrupulous politicians handled dexterously for their own selfish ends. It was not until education became universal, and a higher culture was forced upon the majority — the working classes — that politics began to purify itself, and put on the dignity of real virtue, and receive the respect that belongs to genuine justice.

“The people became disgusted with defamatory political literature, and the honorable members of both parties abjured it altogether. In such a government as this, two great parties could not exist, where one was altogether bad and the other altogether good. It became apparent to the people that there was good in both parties, and they began to elect it irrespective of party prejudice. Politicians began to work for their country instead of themselves and their party, and politics took the noble position that the rights of humanity designed it for. I have been giving you quite a history of our ancient politics. Our present condition is far different. As the people became enlightened to a higher degree, the government became more compact. It might now be compared to a large family. There are one hundred States in the Union. There was a time when every State made its own laws for its own domestic government. One code of laws is now enforced in every State. In going from one State to another citizens now suffer no inconvenience from a confusion of laws. Every State owes allegiance to the General Government. No State or number of States could set up an independent government without obtaining the consent and legal dissolution from the General Government. But such a thing will never be thought of. We have prospered as a great united Nation. Our union has been our strength, our prosperity.”

I visited with Wauna a number of the States’ Capitals. In architecture the Mizora people display an excellent taste. Their public buildings might all be called works of art. Their government buildings, especially, were on a scale of magnificent splendor. The hollow square seemed to be a favorite form. One very beautiful capitol building was of crystal glass, with facing and cornices of marble onyx. It looked more like a gigantic gem than anything I could compare it to, especially when lighted up by great globes of white fire suspended from every ceiling.

Upon my entrance into Mizora, I was led into the belief that I had arrived at a female seminary, because the dining and sleeping accommodations for the stateswoman were all in the Capitol building. I observed that the State Capitols were similarly accommodated. In Mizora the home is the heart of all joy, and wherever a Mizora woman goes, she endeavors to surround herself with its comforts and pleasures. That was the reason that the splendid Capitol building had its home-like appointments, was a Nation of women exclusively — at least as far as I had as yet been able to discover.

Another reason for the homes of all officials of the Government being within the public buildings, was because all the personal expenses, excepting clothing, were paid by the Government. The salaries of Government positions were not large, compared with those of the sciences; but as their social and political dues were paid out of the public treasury, the salaries might be considered as net profit. This custom had originated many centuries in the past. In those early days, when a penurious character became an incumbent of public office, the social obligations belonging to it were often but niggardly requited. Sometimes business embarrassments and real necessity demanded economy; so, at last, the Government assumed all the expenses contingent upon every office, from the highest to the lowest. By this means the occupant of a Government office was freed from every care but those of state.

The number and style of all social entertainments that were obligatory of the occupant of a public office, were regulated by law. As the people of Mizora believed in enjoyment, the entertainments provided by the Government as the necessary social dues of its officers, were not few, nor scantily furnished.

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 22:36