What is a political machine?

March 27, 2013
English: William Marcy "Boss" Tweed ...

English: William Marcy “Boss” Tweed (1823—1878) Русский: Уильям Марси Твид (1823—1878) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Series One: Becoming Politically Savvy

“What is a Political Machine,” by John Marks
March 26th, 2013

More so than ever, the responsibility on the part of young Americans is to become educated about politics, what politics is and how it works. Opinion-shaping influences such as television and other popular culture devices  are constantly used to persuade young people to take on one mind set or another, for the benefit of those who are paying for the persuasion and reaping  the rewards of having people think the way they want them to think, often  without even noticing. Sadly, the American class room has been used as a tool of  leaders to influence young minds to a preconceived mind set.  This means the need for self education is even more urgent.

With that in mind, let’s consider a question everyone ought to be able to answer easily, “What a political machine?”

As we so often do, we look to the web for an answer.



“A political machine is an unofficial system of political organization based on patronage, the spoils system, “behind-the-scenes” control,and longstanding political ties within the structure of a representative democracy.”   (Wiki Quote)

We can safely say that a political machine grows naturally as a “corruption” of America’s democratic process.  When  state and federal justice departments have moved  to enforce the laws on a political machine,  such as   during the dismantling of New York‘s Tammany Hall, anti-corruption laws have provided the backbone of the prosecution. Tammany Hall flourished in New York during what was known as America’s “Gilded Age,” the era of prosperity that ushered in advances like electricity and the automobile. Often,  we find the political machine is created out of financial need (during immigration waves, for example,) and flourishes as eras of prosperity follow, such as a post-war boom.

(Next: The Great American Political Machines)

(Copyright 2013 John Marks Special to The Montana Conservative)

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