The first urban political machine was named after a fictional Indian saint unrecognized by any church and whose name, when pronounced with a Y at the end, began to strike many as Irish which only further confused the issue.
The godfather of that machine was another fictional saint who became Thomas Jefferson’s vice president after successfully rigging an election using a phony water company that eventually became Chase Bank, was tried for murder after killing the first Secretary of the Treasury, was tried for treason after a conspiracy to make himself King of Mexico and plotted to convince New England to secede from the Union.
The urban political machine was born in New York but died in Chicago. It’s no longer a separate entity. One of the inconveniences of urban life along with smog, muggings and excessive regulation. The urban political machine has gone national. It’s here. It’s there. It’s everywhere.
You may disapprove of New York’s soda ban or Chicago’s love affair with gun control or Los Angeles’ pandering to illegal aliens; but what happens in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and the rest of the country’s blighted metropolises no longer stays there. You can live surrounded by ten thousand acres of wilderness on one side and the deep blue sea on the other and it will still find you because the urban political machine has gone national.
The last election was the triumph of the urban political machine. In 2008, Obama ran as a national candidate. In 2012, he ran as the figurehead for the urban political machines and let their voter turnout and voter fraud efforts carry the day. In 2008, he tried inspiring people. In 2012, he ran the same tired campaign run by a hundred corrupt mayors in a hundred cities who know that they can’t lose because the game is rigged and the voters have no choice.
The machine doesn’t care about individuals. It only counts bloc votes. It doesn’t care about making life better for people. Its genius is for finding ways to make life worse because it knows that it has more leverage over people looking for the next meal than over people looking to buy a house in the suburbs. The political machine doesn’t budget; it loots. It breaks the bank, raises taxes, drives out industries and rules over a feudal war zone sharply divided between the rich and the poor.
Reborn in fragmented cities that were multicultural before it was even a word, let alone a buzzword, the machine feeds off misery and conflict. During the 1860s, the machine sent German and Irish immigrants to riot and kill African-Americans to protest the Civil War. During the 1960s, it sent African-American mobs to riot to protest the Vietnam War. The machine does not care about black or white. It only cares about power.
Power, the machine understands, is division. The machine is Machiavellian. It plots out segregated neighborhoods the way that generals deploy battalions. It promotes violence and suspicion and then meets with both sides to offer them a truce. It got big again as the frontier got small and a thousand peoples crowded into overcrowded cities speaking a babble of different languages and knowing nothing except the transplanted micro-communities that they had brought with them.
The machine built on that. It took as their leaders anyone who could deliver a bloc vote. And it traded entitlements for votes. The community leaders became barons, the machine operators became kings and everyone else living in narrow streets, meeting in bursts of gang violence at the boundaries and voting in blocs to keep the other side from getting better access to the goodies offered by the machine, got to be the peasants.
In 2012, tribal politics became national politics. The country was divided and conquered. A campaign run on convincing a dozen separate groups to be afraid of each other and of the majority made all the difference, not in some urban slum, but from sea to shining sea. The country had at last become the city. And considering the state of the city… the state of the union does not look good.
Amnesty for illegal aliens is the natural next step for the machine. The urban machines always wanted their cities to be big. They never cared if the people could feed themselves or if they could feed them. More people meant more votes. More votes meant more money.
The bigger the big cities get, the more micro-districts can be carved out, gerrymandered by race, divided by language, and capable of carrying more and more of the treasury back home to the machine. And if the cities can get big enough, fast enough, then they can outrace their own inevitable bankruptcies to seize control of the wealth of a nation. It’s the only hope of municipalities bulging with unfunded pensions, unfundable social welfare and a next generation of workers that doesn’t exist.
Money is not the issue. Urban political machines have always spent money like water counting on their cities being too big to fail. Right off City Hall in New York City sits the Tweed Courthouse, named after one of the most infamous bosses of the Tammany Hall political machine. Despite being a modest building, it cost four times more to build than London’s Houses of Parliament. Today it houses the headquarters of the Department of Education which is spending the city deep into debt. That just goes to show you that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Obama’s crazed spending spree is nothing new in big cities where the debt is sky high and there is no way to cover it. Detroit is teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. Chicago is facing a frightening pile of debt. California’s municipalities are taking the entire state down with them and Bloomberg doubled New York’s debt during his time as mayor.
The urban political machines don’t fear bankruptcy. They embrace it. Crises create more opportunities. When people are hungry, it’s childishly easy to get them to march round demanding this and that and then using this and that as cover for even bigger thefts. Bailouts and recovery programs are rich wells full of money that can be plundered.
The score was never as big and rich as it was during the first heady days of Hope and Change. The machine operators are no longer playing around with a few billion here or there for urban recovery programs. Instead they’re juggling trillions. The amount of money at their disposal is mind boggling and so is their thievery.
Paying it back is not their problem. America, like Chicago, is too big to fail.
The machine operators live in a world where the people and the cities are collateral to be borrowed against. As long as they control governments, they imagine that there will always be greedy suckers ponying up a few trillion which the next generation will pay off and the one after that.
It never occurs to them that the rest of the world is filled with starving human collateral and the ruins of old cities. It never occurs to them that Chicago, Detroit and New York are just places where people made things and earned a living. And that a city without an economy is just Somalia or El Salvador with a lot of tall buildings.
America is now being run by the logic of the urban machine. The rules on which the cities run are being applied to the rest of the country when it comes to gun control, health care and race. The rules broke the cities and they are breaking the country. And there is no escaping the rules without breaking the power of the urban political machine that now controls the country.
Originally published at Sultan Knish.
About the Author: Daniel Greenfield is an Israeli born blogger and columnist, and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. His work covers American, European and Israeli politics as well as the War on Terror. His writing can be found at http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press.
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