Machine Politics: Chicago Model

Machine Politics: Chicago Model

Machine Politics: Chicago Model

Machine Politics: Chicago Model

Excerpt

The present study is closely related to a larger study of the theory of democracy which the author has projected and partially completed. It happens that most, but not all, of the materials which are used in this book are drawn from the experience of Chicago with democratic institutions; but this does not lessen their value as evidence which can be used to verify or disprove certain hypotheses regarding governmental practices. As far as the number of people studied is concerned, there are many more in the city than in all of ancient Greece, and about as many as in Switzerland today or as in the entire continental United States at the time the federal Constitution was being framed.

Thomas Jefferson was afraid of a democracy built upon an urban civilization. He said: "When they [the American people] get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, they will become corrupt as in Europe." If Jefferson were alive today, he would see many things in the city that carry out his prophecy. Some discerning reader may discover in these pages a Jeffersonian skepticism of urban democracy. However, the writer has tried to be objective, relegating his functions as a citizen, a voter, and a taxpayer to the background, and emphasizing his role as an observer.

The present book is based on a careful perusal of the Chicago newspapers for ten years, upon interviews which have been spaced over this period of time, upon personal observation of political meetings and election-day activities, upon participation in court trials, and upon observations made as an active party worker. As a participant observer the writer has aided in the publicity work of several aldermanic campaigns, and in 1935 undertook to manage an aldermanic campaign for an independent candidate. His success as a campaign manager was not flattering, but he learned a great deal about Chicago politics.

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