Tuesday, June 30, 2015

"Keep the people thoroughly informed"

[W]hile the district attorney did his work in the county where the voters could see how they were being served, Washington was a long way off. How were the people to know about the proceedings of Congress and the work of their congressman?

I thought it all over. It was clear to me that the only way to beat boss and ring rule was to keep the people thoroughly informed. Machine control is based upon misrepresentation and ignorance. Democracy is based upon knowledge. It is of first importance that the people shall know about their government and the work of their public servants. "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." This I have always believed vital to self government.

Immediately following my election to Congress I worked out a complete plan for keeping my constituents informed on public issues and the record of my services in Congress; . . . .

When some Congressman made a speech on sound money . . . I would get the necessary number of copies of that speech, and send them to those interested in the money question. When the oleomargarine bill, the interstate commerce bill, and other important legislation was pending, I sent out speeches covering the debates thoroughly. In this way I supposed I sent out hundreds of thousands of speeches, my own and others.
Robert M. La Follette, "La Follette's Autobiography: A Personal Narrative of Political Experiences,"  The American Magazine, Vol. 73, No. 1, Nov. 1911, p. 8

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