Revisiting history again & again A. The Reformist movement painted the Political Machine as a corrupt, inefficient, wasteful system. B. In the 1960s scholars began to reexamine the political machine and came to some different conclusions:
1. Provided needed social services 2. Serviced business needs 3. Provided alternative channels of social mobility for those with talent but who were disadvantaged because of ethnic background or religion. 4. They worked to naturalize and register immigrants and reward them with patronage jobs and social services. 5. gave the urban poor a stake in the political processes helped them mobilize.
C. Big-city Democratic political machines were built “from the bottom up” and were rooted in the life of working class ethnic neighborhoods—saloons, clubhouses, volunteer fire departments. D. Rainbow Theory: Robert Dahl describes the machine as a rainbow electoral coalition that rewarded each group (Italians, Jews, Irish).
1. From Rages to Riches. to move from the working class to the middle class. The machine help mobilize voters, increase participation in party politics, and municipal office holding which supposedly led to public sector resources to be distributed to the Irish thereby accelerating the development of an Irish middle-class.
2. 1960s-1970s revival: Blacks, Jews, and liberal whites dreamed of a new Rainbow coalition to help capture political and economic influence. In fact Rev. Jesse Jackson, the civil rights leader, founded an organization called the rainbow coalition. The revitalization hoped to use the political machine strategy to gain political access.
Rainbow’s End (Steve Erie - 1990) Revisiting the Political Machine again:
1. Did the political machine uplift the Irish? Why? Faced discrimination Public sector jobs are good jobs. On the eve of the Depression 1/3 of the Irish workforce worked in machine-sponsored jobs. Why not?
1. Did the political machine uplift the Irish? Why not? Blue colar jobs w/ little mobility Helped individual Irish to get rich but not the group as a whole The way to raise a group to middle-class is to push education and professional/business jobs (Asians)
2. Did the political machine integrate immigrants into the political system? Why? Irish were high discriminated against. Without the machine they would have had problems integrating into the political and economic system.
2. Did the political machine integrate immigrants into the political system? Why not? Other immigrants were excluded by the machine. Other immigrants like the Greek, Jews, Italians were discriminated but still assimilated without a political machine
3. What hampered the political machine’s quest for resources State legislatures were often controlled by Republicans. More fiscally minded. Middle-class voters rebelled against fiscally unsound policies. The Depression
4. In the 1930’s which groups began to compete with the Irish for political influence? Miller’s Crossing? Southern and Eastern Eurpeans
5. Why is a political machine strategy not practical for blacks or Latinos? To many constraints on cities. Can’t raise taxes as easy; increase debt. Need ethnic cohesion Retrenchment (1980s Reaganomics, Clinton – the end of big government is over)