Monday, August 21, 2006

What is a "political machine," then?

Yesterday, Ted Sporer went after John Mauro in a post, which really isn't all that surprising. But this time he used a US News and World Report article featuring this quote:

Mauro, a Polk County supervisor in a state where county supervisors are powerful figures, controls thousands of votes on the sprawling Italian South Side of Des Moines, almost all of them through absentee ballots. Decades ago, it occurred to Mauro that people didn't really like to go out and vote and that if you could make it easy for them, if you could get a ballot mailed to their home and then pick it up from them, that was a guaranteed vote. In the old days, absentee ballots had to be notarized (which meant that few people bothered with the process), but Mauro hadn't built up a successful insurance business by being dumb or lazy. He had an idea, and he and about 25 of his boyhood friends (who would become the nucleus of La Macchina) became notaries and carried the heavy seals around in their pockets as they went door to door collecting absentee ballots.

So let me start by saying that the concept that anyone in Des Moines controls "thousands" of votes is pretty absurd. I don't think it will come as an epiphany to most people to discover that south side residents are not sheep. They're Democrats. More of them are voting (and voting for Democrats) because people like John Mauro work to make sure more of them can vote.

On to the second part of the quote. I think the phrase "political machine" or "la macchina" or whatever you want to call it carries a negative connotation. One would think a political machine would steal elections, subvert the will of the voter, or engage in some other nefarious activity. I have yet to see any proof of wrongdoing on John Mauro's part. I've seen some accusations that led to nothing, but no actual wrongdoing.

So it appears, going all the way back to the days when John and friends carried notary seals from door to door on the south side, John Mauro has won elections by helping people vote. And if that's what a political machine is, then I'm glad we have one.



RF said...

Machine or not, there are way too many cozy relationships going on between D politicians and their friends and families in Polk County - at all levels of government. R’s have a legitimate beef about that. People getting government jobs for their friends and family, people sitting on all kinds of boards doling money to their own organizations or pet causes of their friends. It really stinks. We should clean house and implement true ethical standards. I guess this is what you get after years of power without any real threat of losing it.

On a related topic, I am extremely disappointed about Fallon’s continued support of Ako Abdul-Samad. At this point of time, even the appearance of incompetence or unethical behavior should not be tolerated.

The Real Sporer said...

Its a machine when the voters you help are dead. I'm a firm believer in no participation without respiration.

KL Snow said...

And do you have any proof of that at all?