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The Torello Machine is More of a Clique

Torello has a small clique not a machine

  To call what Robin Torello  does politically "a machine" is a stretch. It's more of a clique. I just happen to be reading Harold Gosnell's Machine Politics ,Chicago Model. I had a copy didn't read for some time, but saw it cited in the highly acclaimed and informative The Victory Lab by Sausha Issenberg about current campaigning techniques ,especially the 2012 campaign.

  In the days of the Gosnell study 1937, machines were very well organized in every one of Chicago's 500 districts. This was true for other cities as well. Both parties had precinct captains in every precinct. Precinct captains helped people get work, get breaks on their rent (it was the Depression) got familes food and clothes and kept people out of jail. We don't have that sort of party organization nowadays. We don't even have precinct captains . We don't even have a local party organization in San Leandro and from my experience we don't have enough Democrats interest in creating a local organization. No one locally has  probably ever belong to a local Democratic Party organization unless they might have belong to the Hayward Demos or some Oakland club.

   As far as the  Assembly delegate vote goes, I've been to two of these elections and a slate would probably do a strong showing with 10 or so voters. San Leandro Community Action Network has been around for a half dozen years, it might be able to turn out a couple of car loads of people. The could even meet before the event a Zocalos for a coffee. Maybe pick up a couple of voters from the coffee house crowd.In the old days precinct captains could get people a month or two break in their rent ,maybe Tim Holmes could offer a free latte to people willing to travel to Alameda to vote.They like to video a lot of meetings maybe the event could make for a good video.

    In the election I have seen, the Assembly person both Corbett and Hayashi put together the slate that won the election. 

     Marga gives Torello too much credit . It's not that Torello has a machine , it's a small group of kindred spirits who like her want to be involved in politics .Many of them do seem to hold progressives and average working folk in contempt. Its not that she has anything like a precinct network , the rest of us on the other hand are just less organized than her little group. If San Leandrians can't agree to meet somewhere and travel to Alameda to vote for our delegates, then we may not deserve to win this election.

     Also,the concept of a machine has very negative connotations to the general public and probably drives people away from the Democrats as well as being active politically. Torello definitely has a clique but faces very little serious opposition. To call her small group "a machine"  gives her too much credit  and plays into conservative especially corporate attitudes about political and democratic organizations.Ask not what Torello can do for you but how many people does it take to turn out to "clock" her clique. My guess is 2 carloads.

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Leah Hall January 09, 2013 at 06:00 PM
Thank you, CRaig. YOu!re one of my favorite deep thinkers, seriously. I!ll put your rec'ds on my reading list. For more light hearted political content, Stephen Colbert!s newest book, "the America we never weren't" is a must read this year!
Marga Lacabe January 09, 2013 at 06:11 PM
It seems we're arguing over semantics, Craig. I'll grant you that "machine" may imply a more complicated apparatus than it's actually there. "Clique" on the other hand implies a relationship based on friendship between an inner circle. In reality what we have are people who seek power and network with other people with similar goals. I will grant you that often times power-seekers start with the best of intentions believing that they need to play the game to gain the necessary influence to achieve their lofty policy goals. Unfortunately, it's all too easy to get caught up in the game and forget altogether what those policy goals once were. I will be writing more about this in coming weeks. You are right that for most elections two car loads of people might do it - but that's exactly why having this particular election at Alameda Hospital is such a good move. Bonta was a board member at the hospital, and by all accounts a well liked one. It should be fairly easy for his team to scour the hallways of the hospital in search of extra voters. And shuttling Alamedans to the polls is certainly easier and quicker than shuttling San Leandrans. I love your idea of Tim offering a free latte to voters, but it would be unethical. And that's the problem, right? It's hard to win at politics, when you are not willing to cross the line.
Craig Williams January 09, 2013 at 07:35 PM
Marga the Tim Holmes latte comment was tongue and cheek. The system is crazy. Campaign ads are proven to be almost useless, by more and more research.Political consultants for all their political malpractice in wasting campaign resources should be renamed polical contribution disposal companies. Leah the book references were mere coincidence. I did mention to Tom Abate that instead of my normal blog ranting that I do book reviews instead. Maybe you could do a review of Colbert's book . I could generate quite a few comments and maybe an appearance on his show?
Leah Hall January 09, 2013 at 08:21 PM
WIll do, CRaig, I think you would be great on EIther Comedy Central or Animal PLanet. ;-)

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