Original Document
Original Document
William S. Vare, from "Vindication of Politic Bosses," 1933.

I HAVE the greatest respect for any man or woman who wants better government, and I have always been willing to give a helping hand in this direction. But I have only contempt for the demagogue who, to serve his own ends, appeals only to blind passions to arouse opposition to an established party and has no other purpose in view. And I have had contacts with some few of these personally in my own career.

Political leadership as contrasted with demagoguery must primarily be based upon character. Naturally the man who sits in the council of his party, whether it be that of a city, State or nation, must inspire the confidence of those whom he seeks to direct or otherwise he will fail.

Diverting from these generalities and speaking for myself, and likewise for my two brothers, who were also long in politics, I can say that there is no man or woman living who can truthfully say that any of us ever broke our word.

A liar may go far in some other field, but he cannot survive long in organized politics. I can also say that throughout my entire experience of forty years that there has never been any person, no matter how humble, who could not obtain my ear and likewise my interest were his cause a worthy one. I believe that this practice which may appear to some as a mere minor detail served tremendously to permit me to rise from obscurity to at least a position of leadership.

But irrespective of any advantages which I may have gained as the result of this policy of an open door to the public, I am sincerely convinced that any man who wishes to make headway in public life must brush elbows with the people or otherwise he will fail.

The use of the word "boss" as applied to a political leader is a misnomer. Many of the men with whom I have been associated in active politics have been time and again assailed as "bosses" and yet despite these attacks I have known them to be men of the kindliest nature, guided by most humane and charitable purposes and the victims of innuendoes merely because they interested themselves in public affairs.

The Republican Organization of Philadelphia has, like its leaders, been frequently signaled out for denunciations by either the misinformed or those swayed by their own selfish ambitions. The Philadelphia Organization is in fact one of the greatest welfare organizations in the United States. It must stand for something worthwhile, or otherwise how could it maintain its firm hold on the suffrages of the Philadelphia public through many decades and win victories time and again in every ward of the entire municipality? The answer is this: The Philadelphia Organization is successful because it serves the people.

In every election precinct of the city of Philadelphia there are two representatives of the Organization, elected directly at the Republican primaries who are known as committeemen. They maintain contacts with the voters and are at their beck and call for twenty-four hours of each day of the year.

In times of stress, the poor or other unfortunates always turn to these Organization representatives to assist them. It is they who see that the sick are cared for and that the poor are provided for, and that even in death aid may be rendered. The Philadelphia Organization gives a real social service and one without red tape, without class, religious or color distinction.

It is natural that with the Organization thus responsive-and undoubtedly more so than any other social agency in the entire community-the public should indicate its appreciation by supporting these political forces at the elections.

Far from apologizing for the Philadelphia Organization, I am an ardent champion of its good purposes. I am satisfied that it gives Philadelphia the best of government. Otherwise common sense would indicate that our citizens would rise in their might and repudiate this Organization.

No organization, no leadership, can be maintained in defiance of public opinion. Philadelphia is no ordinary community tamely submitting to the tyrannical rule of any corrupt political machine. It is one of the outstanding great cities of the world. It is the birthplace of American liberty. It is a great centre of education and its school laws are as good as those of any municipality in America. It has little or no illiteracy. Its institutions for instruction in law and medicine have international reputations. It is known as "the city of homes."

It is undoubtedly second to none in the land in the intelligence and integrity of its citizenship and I contend that the Philadelphia Organization could never maintain its firm hold on the suffrage of this people if its purposes were not for the common good.

Credit: William S. Vare, My Forty Years in Politics, Philadelphia: Roland Swain Co., 1933.
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