August 21, 1913

 

Vardamanism in
Mississippi.

 This is, essentially, the day of Democracy; never before, in the history of this country have the people, the great mass of the people, the workers, the producers, the farmers, the mechanics, the merchants and clerks, taken so large an interest in government or looked into its operation with a closer or more intelligent scrutiny. The day is gone, forever, when government was the function of politicians and office the reward of its skillful manipulation of the political machinery of a party or faction. The people have come to the conclusion that this government is theirs; to be administered and conducted for their benefit; and right or wrong they are going to see to it that the agents whom they employ for that purpose, obey their direction or make room for others who will.
   That is the whole meaning of the present day upheaval which finds expression in Progressivism and other heretical manifestations.
  In Mississippi, it is expressed in what is known as "Vardamanism," because James K. Vardaman is the most conspicuous exponent of that idea in the politics of the State, today. Moreover he was the originator of it; the projector of the idea, in the days when the politician ruled; he had the prevision to see and the courage to seize the opportunity that a new day in government presented, and because he was thus prescient and brave, he was translated from the legislature to the governor's mansion and thence to the senate of the United States, where he carries the Mississippi conception of government into the affairs of the nation. Where he first spoke to a country and, then, to a state, he, now, talks to a nation, that listens, as he talks to a nation, that listens, as he talks. He is carrying the voice of the people, their expressed will, into the government of the nation. It is the will of the people, formulated into coherent expression, to be transmuted into action for the conduct of their government, as opposed to the will of a privileged class that has, hitherto, prevailed.
   Here, in Mississippi, under the convention system of making nominations, we had good government; good men were nominated for office and performed their functions well; we still honor the results of that system in the memories of Stone and Lowry and McLaurin and Longino they were good governors, and honored their commissions. There is no quarrel about their record. They did well and deserve the honor that is accorded to them. Mississippi suffered nothing and gained much from the administration of each one of them.

   But during the administrations of the latter two, it became more and more manifest that the voice of the politician was becoming potent in the administration of the government of the State; that politics had become either a profession or a side line of many men who found profit in its practice; and it became necessary to awaken the people to a recognition of the menace to good government involved in that condition, which, if permitted to endure, would mean, ultimately, their enslavement to the politician's will.
   James K. Vardaman realized this situation, understood its meaning, and appreciated its tendency. His innate sense of Democracy was awakened to the danger involved in that condition and he was resolved to resist and to fight it.
   It is not necessary, here, to review the details of that battle. Suffice it, that every great occasion brings forth a great man to meet it, and James K. Vardaman was the man of this occasion, in Mississippi. HE WENT INTO THE FIGHT TO WIN BACK TO THE PEOPLE THE CONTROL OF THEIR GOVERNMENT, AWAY FROM THE POLITICIANS, AND HE SUCCEEDED; AND THAT IS WHAT VARDAMAN STANDS FOR IN MISSISSIPPI TODAY.

   Vardamanism thus became a faith, a principle of government, a fetich, if you will, that many thousands of men in Mississippi embraced and will adhere to from patriotic motives, for the welfare of their State. They realize that Vardamanism does not stand, alone, for the exaltation of its exponent, but is a principle of government that must be perpetuated for the common welfare; they understand that it means the rescue of their government from the control of the politicians, too often controlled by selfish interests, to restore it to themselves, and when the great prophet of this dispensation arose and pressed this new conception of government to their embrace, it is no wonder that the emancipated seized it and pressed it to their bosoms.
  Vardamanism is, infinitely, greater than its prophet. The creation, except in the Divine, is always greater than the creator.
   Vardaman, through voice and pen, awoke a new sense of Democracy in Mississippi, he reminded the people that this government was theirs; was to be administered in obedience to their will, without reference to an increasing group of politicians, dominated by special interests. He everywhere and, on every occasion, urged this view; he presented it in the legislature and enforced it as governor; and when he became a candidate for the senate of the United States, he became more earnest, still, in the promulgation of that idea.

   That advocacy has created what we call Vardamanism in Mississippi, and it must live on for the welfare of the State and the people. The fires lit by Vardaman, on a thousand hills must not be permitted to go out; we must keep them alive for the safety of the State.
   The ancient enemy of Democracy is not dead, but sleeping; and the forces that oppose Vardaman are busy, at work, today, within the Vardaman ranks, to destroy that organization ; and through such schisms and defections as they may be able to accomplish, they hope to restore the rule of the politician and his satellites of privilege in the government of the State.

 

 

Original Article