Obama Refuses to Play Ball with Philadelphia Political Bosses
by JDF, Sun Apr 13, 2008 at 12:12:44 PM EDT
The Los Angeles Times has a story about Philadelphia politics, the traditions of machine politics, and the clash between that and the "New Politics."
The basics, and I have first hand experience with this from working campaigns in Philadelphia, are simple. The campaign puts out massive money for Election Day (a State House candidate who wants the support of committee people, ward leaders, and election day workers can put out 17,000 or more JUST ON ELECTION DAY... and this is not including any staff they may have,) that money gets spread out by Ward Leaders, and Committee People who spread it around to guarantee that voters get pushed your way on Election Day. Now, the article says this is all completely legal, and on the surface it is; but make no mistakes this is only a couple steps from the direct buying of votes.
Which brings us to the Obama Campaign. They are refusing to lay out what Carol Campbell, a ward leader in Western Philadelphia, estimates would be between 400,000 and 500,000. Now I guess one school of thought would be that this kind of outlay is pocket change for the Obama campaign, and it is. But that isn't the point. The point is that Obama is refusing to play into the practice of machine politics.
I know this won't play well with the anti- Obama crowd who like to remind us all that Obama is from Chicago and thus must be the most corrupt person ever. But I think that it speaks to the true nature of his candidacy and what kind of President we could expect him to be. I, for one, am thankful that he is refusing to pay what amounts to bribes to the Philadelphia political machine. And although it is predicted in this article that many of these Obama supporting Ward Leaders and such would defect to Clinton (who would, they say, happily fork over the cash,) It is nice to see a candidate do what is right in the face of what would be politically expedient.