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Analysis Paper For “City Politics Chapter 4”

1569 words - 7 pages

The fourth chapter of City Politics by Dennis R. Judd & Todd Swanstrom covers the rise of "Reform Politics" with many local governments during the first half of the 1900s as a way to combat the entrenched political machines that took control of many large city governments in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Over the course of the chapter, Judd & Swanstrom quickly cover the history of the "reform movement" with different examples of how the reform movement affected city politics in different areas.
I commend the authors' overall work in being able to effectively present the aims of the reform movement and its progression over time. I am especially was appreciative of what seemed to be a very critical analysis of the policies that came out of the “reformers” at the time. Yet, I do have some minor issues with how they seem to skim though the topic while forgetting to discuss some others important elements of the topic. For example, I thought it was odd that although the reform movement had some major issues within its ideals of "fixing democracy", they did not seem to focus on heavily on some of the positive benefits of the movement. Therefore, with this paper, I hope to hone into what I personally thought were fascinating elements of the reading, which was how the reform Movement was instrumental in establishing strong elite governmental policies against the typical machine city politics at the time, but also in some major cases discriminated and disenfranchised individuals in lower socioeconomic classes within those newly "reformed" cities.
The reform movement is typically framed as a progressive achievement in improving corrupt governments that were commonplace in many cities during the time period covered in this chapter, but it seemed to also have a large amount of elitist elements that created a bureaucratic system that only fixed government for the middle-class and above, while the lower-class were left out of these "good government" benefits. During the first few pages of the chapter, Judd & Swanstrom quickly touch upon how during the late 18th century, there was a middle and upper class backlash on what many perceived to be a major sense of political corruption that was taking over large urban cities in the United States. The authors quote James Bryce and his belief at the time that "the government of cities is one of the conspicuous failures of the United States," which was a common belief among many people at the time. Nevertheless, another important factor leading the charge for reform politics was the backlash by many upper & middle-class Americans of the rising tide of immigrants moving in urban areas. Most reform political movements during that late 19th and early 20th century time period typically created systematic ways of limiting the power of the lower class.
One of the mild criticisms that I have with this chapter is how the authors only really hint and mention briefly at how in regards with lower-class immigrants moving into...

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