In our March/April 2012 issue, Frederick E. Allen explores the history of America’s two-party system — an issue that The Saturday Evening Post was talking about more than a hundred years ago. In the following poem from the December 23, 1911 Post, J.W. Foley rhapsodizes about straight-ticket voting.
I am the Upright Citizen —Taxpayer is my name;
I’m one of the City’s Solid Men and I’m everywhere the same;
I’ve built the sewers and paved the streets, and paid for the parks, you see,
and all the Contractors, Bosses, Beats and Leeches feed on me—
you see, I’m a Regular Party Man—it’s bred in my flesh and bone.
I’ve voted for every Republican since the party has been known
I always vote my ticket straight, though at times it’s a bitter pill;
but I never split it, and I may state that I hope I never will.
Now Smith, next door, is a Democrat, and another Solid Man,
who always knows right where he’s at— and he votes by the selfsame plan ;
and Smith is an Upright Citizen, and his name’s Taxpayer too ;
and as one of the City’s Solid Men he’s down on the Grafting Crew ;
and so am I—so we go to the polls and vote straight down the line :
two square and quite well-meaning men —and his vote offsets mine!
NOW I’ve talked with Smith and he’s talked with me, and we’ve talked quite plainly too;
and I’ve said to him : “Now, Smith, you see, I’m down on this Grafting Crew ;
our man is the man to win the fight—he’s a clean and able man.”
And Smith says: “Yes, I guess that’s right ; but he’s a Republican.
And I always vote my ticket straight from A to Z—that’s how
I’ve always done and it’s getting late to change my methods now.
Our man isn’t what he ought to be—I quite agree in that;
but he’s the party nominee, and you know I’m a Democrat.
So I guess I’ll stick to the good old ship and vote right down the line.”
And Smith makes one cross on his ballot slip—and so his vote kills mine!
SMITH talks with me in the selfsame way, and he says: “This paving job
is a downright steal, I’m free to say ; and our man’s pledged to play hob
with the deal they’ve made and we ought to stand behind him to a man.”
And I know our man has made a trade—but he’s a Republican.
So I say to Smith: “I’d like to vote for your candidate, that’s flat;
but somehow it sticks fast in my throat, for he is a Democrat.
And you know I belong to the G.O.P.—the party of Lincoln and Blaine—
and it ought to be good enough for me; so I’ll vote her straight again.”
And so we go to the polls and vote for the Gods of the Faith That Is—
it’s not just good; but what’s the odds ?—and so my vote kills his!
NOW Smith and I, we mean all right and we want things on the square;
but when there’s a Regular Party Fight, a man must do his share.
My faith comes down from Fremont’s time and his from Jefferson;
and to cling to an old-time faith’s sublime—no odds how the paving’s done!
Sometimes I think his man’s the best—sometimes he thinks mine is;
but I vote straight, north, south, east, west, and he votes straight for his.
We quite agree on little things, like the taxrolls and the streets,
the city schools, police, white wings, and the health of milk and meats;
but when it comes to matters big, like a Regular Party Plank,
why, Smith is stubborn as a pig and I’m somewhat of a crank.
And we’d like to vote alike—and then we could down the Grafting Crew ;
but we’re both Regular Party Men—so what are we going to do?
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