A National Vote on Prohibition and the Bonus
A HUGE POLL, a genuinely national test of the public will on Prohibition and the soldiers' bonus, is now in progress, conducted by THE LITERARY DIGEST. Startling revelations of the true state of the country's attitude toward Prohibition may be predicted on the basis of the ballots already received.
The poll now under way is, in most particulars, the greatest and most representative unofficial canvass ever undertaken in the history of the United States. The only other poll comparable to it is the "Presidential Primary, " conducted by THE DIGEST two years ago.
Our readers will remember the accuracy with which this previous poll revealed the national state of mind, presaging the tremendous majority to be rolled up for the Republican candidates.
The present poll, it can confidently be predicted, will reveal the will of the American people toward
those two most pressing questions. of the day—the status of the Prohibition Amendment and the proposal to pay a Federal bonus to all American soldiers and sailors who wore a uniform in the World War.
Both questions, aside from their personal interest to every citizen, will be controlling factors in the coming Congressional elections in many States. The temper of the country,. as revealed by the poll, will undoubtedly have its effect upon these elections, and thus upon the fate of both Prohibition and the bonus in the new Congress. It is therefore logical and imperative that all ballot-holders with convictions on Prohibition and the bonus mark and return their ballots at once, if they have not already done so.
The reproduction of the ballot, centered in this page, tells a part of the story of the safeguards with which the voting is surrounded. THE DIGEST will serve in this matter, as it serves in others, merely as an unbiased registrar and disseminator of opinions and facts. The 10,000,000 ballots are being distributed to all classes of voters in all States and all communities in the nation, with complete impartiality. Millions will be sent by mail, one ballot in each envelop. Others will be distributed in certain great plants and factories, such as the Edison works in New Jersey, with care that plants in which men are chiefly employed may be balanced by plants chiefly employing women. The distribution and counting both of the mail vote and of the factory polls will be handled in such a way that the country may be assured an unhampered expression of popular opinion.
Recent events have emphasized the need for such a nation-wide poll as is now in progress.
A poll of 1,500 leaders in various fields of activity, taken last month by The Manufacturers Record, showed 85.50 per cent. in favor of strict prohibition. At about the same time the United States was attacked as "incomparably the biggest bootlegger in the world" in view of the liquor-selling on American ships, and the head of the International Temperance Bureau emphasized the fact that much of Europe looks upon us as drinkers-on-the-sly and pious hypocrites.
A leading Cabinet member, Secretary of War Weeks, declaring that the American people were opposed to strict prohibition, came out boldly against the Volstead Act, and in favor of light wines and beer. It was reported from Washington at the same time, that, "in the light of the primaries to date, the net change in members of the House is a gain of three for the drys."
The almost equally debated question of a bonus for all American soldiers and sailors who wore the uniform during the recent war is tied up in some quarters with Prohibition. Federal taxes on beer and light wines, it is argued, would pay the bonus.
A very significant feature, noticed in the comparatively few and scattering returns that had arrived and been tabulated when this page of THE DIGEST was written, is that a majority of the voters who favor a "moist" interpretation of the Prohibition Amendment, that is to say, an interpretation that permits light wines and beer, are in favor of the bonus.
THE DIGEST ballot, as shown in the accompanying cut, provides for the registration of the opinion of those who believe that the Amendment should be modified to permit light wines and beer as well as those who believe that the whole Prohibition Amendment should be repealed, or that the Volstead Law for putting into effect the Prohibition measure should stand as it is and be strictly enforced.
The first tabulation and report of the poll will appear in the next number of THE DIGEST, dated July 15. Weekly reports will follow until the count is complete. The significance and importance of the information which these summaries will convey is suggested by such vigorous declarations as this, from the New York Sun:
"You can run a country in a liberal way, or you can run it with an honest Puritanism, but you can't get away with such flagrant hypocrisy as this liquor situation."