By Walter Bagehot
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And it likes to hear – it is eager to know. Human nature despises long arguments which come to nothing – heavy speeches which precede no motion, abstract disquisitions which leave visible things where they were. But all men heed great results, and a change of government is a great result. It has a hundred ramiﬁcations; it runs through society; it gives hope to many, and it takes away hope from many. It is one of those marked events which, by its magnitude and its melodrama, impresses men even too much.
We should accomplish nothing; for all our energies would be frittered away in minor The English Constitution attempts at petty improvement. One man, too, would go oﬀ from the known track in one direction, and one in another; so that when a crisis comes requiring massed combination, no two men will be near enough to act together. It is the dull traditional habit of mankind that guides most men’s actions, and is the steady frame in which each new artist must set the picture that he paints. And all this traditional part of human nature is, ex vi termini,1 most easily impressed and acted on by that which is handed down.
Tried by their own aims, the founders of the United States were wise in excluding the ministers from Congress. But though this exclusion is essential to the presidential system of government, it is not for that reason a small evil. It causes the degradation of public life. Unless a member of the legislature be sure of something more than speech, unless he is incited by the hope of action, and chastened by the chance of responsibility, a ﬁrst-rate man will not care to take the place, and will not do much if he does take it.
Bagehot: The English Constitution by Walter Bagehot