America’s Great Political Machines

April 3, 2013

English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


(2013 John Marks Special to Montana Conservative)

A Communist regime such as Fidel Castro’s Cuba does not qualify as a “Political Machine,” although in practice, there is not much difference. A political machine refers to an organization built within the framework of a democratic society.  Here’s what Wiki has to say about three of our most famous, Tammany Hall, the Democratic Party political machine that “played a major role in controlling New York City and New York State politics and helping immigrants rise up in American politics from the 1790’s to the 1960’s,” The Boston Irish Machine of Mayor Michael Curley, and the Chicago Democratic Machine.

(1) Tammany Hall, New York

—————-  quote from Wiki ———————
The Tammany Society was named for Tamanend, a Native American leader of the Lenape, and emerged as the center for Democratic-Republican Party politics in the City in the early 19th Century. The “Hall” serving as the Society’s headquarters was built in 1830 on East 14th Street, marking an era when Tammany Hall became the city affiliate of the Democratic Party, controlling most of the New York City elections afterwards.
The Society expanded its political control even further by earning the loyalty of the city’s ever-expanding immigrant community, which functioned as a base of political capital. The Tammany Hall ward boss or ward heeler – “wards” were the city’s smallest political units from 1686 to 1938 – served as the local vote gatherer and provider of patronage. Beginning in late 1845, Tammany power surged with the influx of millions of Irish immigrants to New York. From 1872, Tammany had an Irish “boss,” and in 1928 a Tammany hero, New York Governor Al Smith won the Democratic presidential nomination. However, Tammany Hall also served as an engine for graft and political corruption, perhaps most infamously under William M. “Boss” Tweed in the mid-19th century.

(Wiki: Tammany Hall)
————————–end Wiki quote————————–

Tammany Hall was finally ousted by future President Franklin D. Roosevelt, his wife, Eleanor, and New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, with the cooperation of the Catholic Church. Note that the machine did not originate with the Irish immigration, but found the new immigrants very handy grist for the mill. Aside from Boston, this pattern appears in several cities known to have Democratic machines.

(2) Boston Irish Democratic, (Mayor Curley,  Boston, Massachusetts)

This is one that the Irish can call their own, not to say non-Irish have not been quite active in building corrupt political powerhouses in their own right.
Pictured above,  James Michael Curley (November 20, 1874 – November 12, 1958) was an American politician famous for his four terms as Democratic mayor of Boston, Massachusetts and one term as Governor of Massachusetts. He also served twice in the United States House of Representatives. He was as well known for his popularity in Boston, particularly with Irish Americans, as well as his connections to the Irish Mob and corrupt practices. His popularity was such that he was on one occasion reelected mayor while serving time in prison for a felony conviction.
By the end of the 1940s, Mayor Curley was running the city of Boston with an iron fist. Mayor Curley’s administration’s “policies all but ignored the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) and Yankee business community.” One of his tactics was to blame the woes of the poor on the wealthy. This is said to be one of the factors that caused an exodus from Boston and contributed to the blight that ensued.
‘’Curley made many enemies in his long career. He enjoyed verbally attacking the Boston Brahmins, and he encouraged his Irish constituents to blame their woes on the Yankees. Many of the people who had long lived in  the city came to feel unwelcome in Boston. The exodus of Protestants to the suburbs that took place during the Curley era left a lasting legacy.’’
Even with the corruption charges that surrounded him Curley was seen as a people’s mayor.

(Wiki: Boston’s West End, James Michael Curley.)
————————-end Wiki quote———————————-

(3) The Chicago Political Machine (Cook County, Illinois. Mayor Richard Daley)
The Cook County Democratic Party is a political party which represents voters in 50 wards in the city of Chicago and 30 suburban townships of Cook County. The organization has dominated Chicago politics (and consequently, Illinois politics) since the 1930s. It relies on a tight organizational structure of ward and township committeemen to elect candidates. At the height of its influence under Richard J. Daley in the 1960s, it was one of the most powerful political machines in American history.
After several decades of domination by Irish Americans, the Cook County Democratic organization today is diverse in its leadership. The current Chairman is Joseph Berrios and during his tenure the Democratic Party has made great inroads in the communities of suburban Cook County.

(Wiki:Chicago Political Machine)
—————-end Wiki quote———————-

Conclusion: We can see that the American prototype of the deteriorated and crime ridden inner city is directly related to the presence, actions, and power of the immoral and criminal Democratic Political Machines. That is the lasting legacy referred to in the paragraphs above. (Mayor Curley’s family history shows a long criminal past, largely concealed, often  suggested to be the reason his father fled to America.)

Political machines thrive in a climate of lawless behavior.


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