Interesting piece from Balloon Juice about an article in TNR about the old political machines and how they WORKED. The politicos delivered services and voters came out to vote. The spin was that the machines were corrupt and they delivered votes (and election fraud) through coercion and abuse. And yeah, that happened. But the reality for most machines, most of the time, was organization that built things, delivered services and created a tangible connection for the voter to government. People knew where things came from and where to go to for help.
The enemies of machines were generally their jealous, less organized opponents who conflated the machines with organized crime (bad), unions (really good, but demonized) and corruption (bad, but in many ways just another way of doing business that gets things done) – what’s legal and what’s illegal is decided by the same politicians that can declare one person/group effective and another a cesspool of corruption.
I read one fairly badly written book about Tammany Hall, would like to know if there’s a good one. They ran New York City and by extension New York State for around 170 years.
Political machines were corrupt to the core–but they were also incredibly effective. If Democrats want to survive in the modern age, they need to take a page from their past.