Mr. Taft's Borrowed Plumes

Performed by William Jennings Bryan
Recorded September 14, 1908

What good things does Mr. Taft stand for that is not borrowed from the Democrats? He favors an income tax when we need it, but thinks we do not need it now. Is the income tax a good thing? Where did Mr. Taft get the idea? From the income tax law enacted by the Democrats in 1894 and opposed by the Republicans. The last Democratic national platform endorses the income tax; the last Republican national platform is silent on the subject. Mr. Taft favors railroad regulation, where did he get the idea? From the President’s recommendations? But the President’s recommendations were suggested by three Democratic national platforms, platforms which endorsed regulations when Republicans were silent on the subject. Mr. Taft is personally inclined towards the election of senators by the people---where did he get the idea? The proposition was endorsed in the House of Representatives by the 52nd and 53rd Congresses and both of these Congresses were Democratic. The Proposition was afterwards endorsed by Republican Congresses, but it was rejected by the last Republican national convention by a vote of 7 to 1. In declaring for it, therefore, Mr. Taft is in line with the Democratic platforms of 1900, 1904 and 1908, and out of harmony with his own platform. Mr. Taft advocates a certain kind of publicity, of campaign contributions, but in doing so he is endorsing a proposition which the Democrats urged in the House but which was rejected in his own convention. He does not go as far as the Democratic platform goes, but in so far as he goes at all, he goes towards the Democratic platform and away from his own. Mr. Taft is advocating tariff revision; this is not equivalent to tariff reduction and yet in admitting that some of the tariff schedules ought to be lowered, he is recognizing the righteousness of the Democratic protests against the present high tariff law which the Republicans have heretofore refused to touch. Mr. Taft even recognizes that the Filipinos must ultimately have independence. He put this off, it is true, for a least two generations, but heretofore we have not been able to get the Republicans to discuss the subject at all. The Democrats have said from the first, that ultimate independence was the only policy consistent with American ideals. These are some of the things which Mr. Taft has borrowed from the Democrats. He has not gone as far as he ought to have gone on these questions. But the Democrats can claim credit for having compelled such a stance as he makes. The Democrats, however, are not responsible for his position on trial by jury in cases of indirect contempt, or for his failure to take the people’s side of the trust question. On the labor question and the trust question, we will not claim that he had borrowed anything from the Democrats, but we do claim that his position on these subjects would be better if he had borrowed, and that on other questions he could have strengthened his position by borrowing more than he had. And to conclude, Mr. Taft has imitated the Democrats in using the talking machine as a means of reaching the public.