He shook his head, staring, and he was so mystified that I said that most people were pretty terribly punished for being born poor and common. He nodded, but he wasnt interested or enlightened, apparently. And you learned, somehow, that the thing to do was to get yourself on, get up out of it, make a success of your life?
In that first interview we had, I said, you insisted that, while the business boss was the real boss, the sovereign, you had some power of your own. And you described it today as the backing of your own ward, which, you said, you had in your pocket. When you became boss, you got the backing, the personal support, of other wards, didnt you?
The common people, I went on, and he was about to nod, but he didnt. And his fingers became still. Your own peoplethe great helpless mass of the friendless mobliked you. His eyes were fixed on mine. They followed you; they trusted you.
They didnt set a watch on you, did they? I continued. They voted as you bade them vote, elected the fellows you put on the tickets of their party for them. And, after they elected them, they left it to them, and to you, to be true to them; to stick to them; to be loyal.
And youyou betrayed them, I said; and I hurried on, piling on the fuel, all I had. They have power, the people have, and they have needs, great common needs; and they have great common wealth. All your fat, rich franchises, all your great social values, the values added to land and franchise by the presence of the great, common, numerous mass, all the citys public propertyall are theirs, their common property. They own enough in common to meet all their great common needs, and they have an organization to keep for them and to develop for their use and profit all these great needed social values. It is the city; the city government; city, State, and national. And they have, they breed in their own ranks, men like you, natural political leaders, to go into public life and lead them, teach them, represent them. And they leave it all to you, trusting you. And you, all of younot you alone, Boss, but all of you: ward leaders; State leaders; all the national political bossesyou all betray them. You receive from them their votes, so faithfully given, and you transform them into office-holders whom you teach or corrupt and compel to obey you. So you reorganize the city government. You, not the Mayor, are the head of it; you, not the council, are its legislature; you, not the heads of departments, are the administrators of the property and the powers of the people of your city; the common, helpless, friendless people. And, having thus organized and taken over all this power and property andthis beautiful faith, you do not protect their rights and their property. What do you do with it, Boss?
You sell em out; you turn over the whole thingthe city, its property, and its peopleto Business, to the big fellows; to the business leaders of the people. You deliver, not only franchises, privileges, private rights and public properties, and values, Boss: youall of you togetherhave delivered the government itself to these men, so that today this city, this State, and the national government represent, normally, not the people, not the great mass of common folk, who need protection, butBusiness; preferably bad business; privileged business; a class; a privileged class.
Thats the system, I repeated. Its an organization of social treason, and the political boss is the chief traitor. It couldnt stand without the submission of the people; the real bosses have to get that. They cant buy the peopletoo many of them; so they buy the peoples leaders, and the disloyalty of the political boss is the key to the whole thing.