Machine Politics vs. Reformers: The Rust Belt Political Parties

New York-based blogger Alon Levy shared this interesting insight in his latest post:

Urban politics in what’s now the US Rust Belt has been dominated by the same battle between the machine and the reformists since the machines first came into existence in the 19th century. Since the national partisan battles weren’t too applicable, especially after the cities became dominant-party Democratic, the battle lines cemented based on this reform vs. machine issue, creating the same intense partisanship as at the national level.

I have to say I wholeheartedly agree. I would say I am a solid Democrat at the national level but I would never call myself a Democrat at the local level. There are just too many sleazy Democrats in Cleveland, plus it’s a moot point. Everyone in Cleveland is a Democrat, at least everyone with a viable political career.

I am a progressive. I support candidates like Chris Ronayne. In Cleveland a reformer is generally under 50, has lived outside of Cleveland for some portion of their life and has an advanced degree, or at least a prestigious undergraduate degree.

On the other hand, the old school Democrats in Cleveland are lifelong politicians. They worked their way through the party system trading favors. I’m taking about the Dan Bradys, even though I think Dan Brady is a perfectly nice guy. Dan Brady is never going to be a change agent in Cleveland.

How can you not love Youngstown's Jay Williams? Photo: Defend Youngstown

Across the Rust Belt, the politicians I admire: Youngstown’s Jay Williams; Newark’s Cory Booker; Detroit’s Dave Bing; Youngstown’s Tim Ryan — these guys are reformers. Unfortunately, in Cleveland, progressives, or reformers, haven’t had a whole lot of luck winning elections.

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