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Performed by William Jennings Bryan
Recorded July 21, 1908

The Democratic national platform, recently adopted at Denver, contains a declaration in favor of the election of United States senators by direct vote of the people, and expresses the opinion that this reform is the gateway to other national reform.

This is the third declaration of this kind made by a Democratic National Convention. The first having been made at Kansas City in 1900, and the second at St. Louis in 1904. The Republican National Convention held at Chicago last month, declared against this reform by a vote of more than 7 to 1; and the Republican party has in former campaigns, refused to endorse it in its platform; and yet so insistent are the rank and file of all parties, that the House of Representatives of the Federal Congress, has five times declared in favor of the election of senators by the direct vote of the people.

Two-thirds of the states have also endorsed this proposition to their legislatures, and there is no reason to doubt that among the voters there is an almost unanimous sentiment in its favor. Why do the Republican leaders oppose a reform which even Republican voters demand?

There can be but one explanation. The favor seeking corporations have made the Senate the center of their political influence, and as the Senate must concur, before any remedial legislation is possible, predatory wealth is able to prevent legislation by controlling the Senate.

The excuse, however, given by those who oppose the popular election of senators, is that the Senate represents the states and that a popular election of senators would destroy the representative character of that body. There is no foundation whatever for this argument, because senators will represent their states just as completely when elected by the people as when elected by legislatures of the several states. I may go farther and say that state representation will be even more secure under popular election because the present method of election has dropped such odium upon the Senate that the Senate as a legislative body has suffered.

The state is not a thing apart from the people, the people of the state constitute the state, and the people of the state have just as much right to a voice in the United States Senate as they have to a voice in the House of Representatives. If the people of the state have intelligence enough to select their governors, their state legislators, their members of Congress, and their presidential electors, who will say that they have not intelligence enough to select their senators by direct vote.

Men may differ as to whether the country would be benefited by a high tariff or a low tariff. They may differ in regard to financial systems, and they may even differ as to the economic advantages of great corporations. But among those who believe in the right of the people to self government and in the capacity of the people for self government, there can hardly be any difference of opinion as to the wisdom of putting the election of United States senators in the hands of the people.

So urgent is the necessity for this reform that a number of states have already joined in the call for a constitutional convention to reform the method of electing senators in spite of the opposition of the Senate itself. But it is probable that the Senate will yield when it finds further resistance useless. In the meantime, the voters ought to see to it that only those who are elected to the Senate and to the House of Representatives who have sufficient confidence in the people to grant their reasonable demand for the control of the United States Senate.

Источник: The Authentic History Senter   (по ссылке доступна аудиоверсия)