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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

But if you had to make a choice between Thatcher and Bassett


"That's

all right; but if you had to make a choice between Thatcher and Bassett?"

Dan shrugged his shoulders impatiently.

"You mustn't exaggerate the importance of my influence. I don't carry United States senatorships around in my pocket."

"You're the most influential man of your age in our state. I'm not so sure you wouldn't be able to elect any man you supported if the election were held to-morrow."

"You've mastered the delicate art of flattery, Colonel; when the time comes, I'll be in the fight. It's not so dead certain that our party's going to have a senator to elect--there's always that. But all the walls are covered with handwriting these days that doesn't need interpreting by me or any other Daniel. Many of the younger men all over this state in both parties are getting ready to assert themselves. What we want--what you want, I believe--is to make this state count for something in national affairs. Just changing parties doesn't help anything. I'd rather not shift at all than send some fellow to the Senate just because he can capture a caucus. It's my honest conviction that any man can get a caucus vote if he will play according to the old rules. You and I go out over the state bawling to the people that they are governing this country. We appeal to them for their votes when we know well enough that between Thatcher and Bassett as Democrats,

and 'Big' Jordan and Ridgefield in the Republican camp, the people don't stand to win. It may tickle you to know that I've had some flattering invitations lately to join the Republicans--not from the old guard, mind you, but from some of the young fellows who want to score results for policies, not politicians. I suppose, after all, Colonel, I'm only a kind of academic Democrat, with no patience whatever with this eternal hitching of our ancient mule to the saloons and breweries just to win. In the next campaign I'm going to preach my academic Democracy all the way from Lake Michigan to the Ohio River, up and down and back and forth--and I'm going to do it at my own expense and not be responsible to any state committee or anybody else. That's about where I stand."

"Good; mighty good, Dan. All the rest of us want is for you to holler that in your biggest foghorn voice and you'll find the crowd with you."

"But if the crowd isn't with me, it won't make a bit of difference; I shall bark just the same."

"Now that we've got down to brass tacks, I'll tell you what I've thought ever since Bassett got his clamps on the party: that he really hasn't any qualities of leadership; that grim, silent way of his is a good deal of a bluff. If anybody ever has the nerve to set off a firecracker just behind him, he'll run a mile. The newspapers keep flashing him up in big headlines all the time, and that helps to keep the people fooled. The last time I saw him was just after he put through that corporation bill you broke on, and he didn't seem to have got much fun out of his victory; he looked pretty gray and worried. It wasn't so easy pulling through House Bill Ninety-five; it was the hardest job of Mort's life; but he had to do it or take the count. And Lord! he certainly lost his head in defeating those appropriation bills; he let his spite toward the governor get the better of him. It wasn't the Republican governor he put in the hole; it was his own party."


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