Monday, November 23, 2009

Machine Politics

A casual observer of my campaign could easily come to the conclusion that I oppose machine politics. My rants against “The Machine” are hardly hidden and much of my platform is based on either the introduction of laws that will weaken the status quo, i.e., term limits, or that are opposed by the status quo, i.e., a graduated income tax.

Closer to the truth is that I admire machines and wish that I had an organization as efficient and well-staffed as do the Daleys, the Madigans, and the Mells.

Few of the friends who volunteered had experience in collecting signatures on my petitions. I have no fund-raisers on my staff. As a grass-roots candidate of the progressive and reform-minded type, I have no endorsements from elected politicians. The PACs with whom I have spoke only want to back a shoo-in, not a newcomer.

The value of the machine is easily seen. My opponent, Deb Mell et al., handed in more than 2,000 signatures, 75 of which she collected herself. For our part, we handed in 1,600, 900 of which I collected and another 300 were collected by my friend Guy. Mell had many hands making the work light, while we few had to hustle and worry our way to our goal.
Machine-based efficiency is enviable; organization is essential; manpower necessary. Those statements are given realities.

The other reality is that over time machines wear down. They become sloppy as their “gears” become worn by use. Cracks appear as the stress of time fractures their structures and their innate rigidity becomes unresponsive to the changes that inevitably occur in their environment.

So there comes a time when it is necessary to reform and rebuild, to study the needs that the old machine cannot or will not meet and construct a new organization, yes a new political machine, that is responsive to will of its citizens. Though it is seen as such, that is not meant to be a challenge to a given political party or to a certain power base. It is an invitation to self-examination and reflection that will lead to innovation, renewal, and invigoration. It is taking the best of the old machine in order to build a better one, more suited to the present and better prepared for the future.

Such is the natural course of things. We all know it happens, since the older generation has no choice but to pass the torch of responsibility on to the next. It is not always done easily but its doing is inevitable. Let us transform by evolution rather than by revolution, as transform we will, whether we like it or not.

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