THE more popular a government the greater the disadvantages it faces in preparing for and waging war. Government action must wait on the development of a substantial measure of supporting consent. And the support must come not only from public opinion but from the legislative representatives of that opinion. Effective preparations are hampered and military effort is checked if, instead of joining forces in the face of a common enemy, the executive and the legislature waste their strength in jurisdictional quarrels. An emergency, however, is no time to dispense with or even unduly to subordinate a legislature. It may have to change its activities, but it can play a high, albeit a different, rôle in making a militant representative government more vigorous and effective.
Representative governments have now well-nigh vanished from the continent of Europe. Herr Hitler's Gauleiters have taken their places. Only in Great Britain and the British Dominions, in the United States and in the continent to the south of us, are there governments which are still representative. Only these states, therefore, face problems which involve the relationship of executive and legislature, whether in peace or in war. When, in wartime, these problems are solved, representative governments which at the start have faced disadvantages of disunion and delay develop a resiliency and superiority of spirit which can carry them to victory. That was abundantly demonstrated from 1914 to 1918. And since September 1939 all observers of the House of Commons agree that it has played a not inconsiderable rôle in making Britain's effort as effective and as magnificent as it has become. On the other hand, the failure of the French executive and parliament to subordinate personal and factional quarrels and to give to the country the vigorous leadership it needed was one of the reasons for the French collapse.
In the United States, as I write, relations between the President and Congress are unsatisfactory but they are not yet ominous. So long as the war is a white war
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