My Beautiful Wickedness

A welcome surprise
August 20, 2008, 10:00 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I know that I have mentioned that I live in a machine politics town. Maybe, next to Chicago, this is THE machine politics town in the US. It works ok (for me, as I am a white, affluent, Irish, Democrat, primary-voting professor who lives in an “urban” ward). My ward boss lives down the street and he’s surprisingly effective at getting stuff done. It’s a very stable system, which is both good and bad — it’s designed to keep the paisans happy and the goodies flowing to the loyal but it also is designed to keep “undesirables” out of power, so if you wanted to refunnel some of those small-business grants over a neighborhood into Arbor Hill (a neighborhood that’s been predominantly black since the 1780s), you’d be shit out of luck.

Usually, the machine runs silently. You don’t have contact with anyone but the ward boss and the chain of command is tight. We’re the kind of town that will re-elect the same mayor for forty years (really…over and over and over) and not really give it a second thought. The machine vets the candidates and once it gets to the elections, you know that whatever guy you choose is ok with the local Democratic powerbrokers. I think, though, that there must be something going on in the halls of power. Yesterday, our councilman showed up on the porch for a knock and talk for the first time in five years. If he’s putting in the shoeleather (and a nice guy he was, too), then someone must be putting on a move.

Maybe I should start paying attention.


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