The Aristocrat in Local Politics
MOST OF US were told long ago that the old-time city politician, his status built on jobs for election captains and Thanksgiving baskets for the needy, had slipped, mastodon-like, into extinction. The New Deal and subsequent social legislation had allegedly rendered him useless, replacing his repertoire of favors for afflicted constituents with a battery of institutional devices to provide group care: trade unions to intercede with employers for the redress of grievances; Social Security and tax-assisted pension plans to give succor to the aged; free colleges and universities for the young; hospital and health-care programs for the sick; the public-defender system (or publicly-supported, privately-managed legal-aid systems) to help those accused of crimes.
Yet the systems do not work perfectly in every case; perhaps not even in any case. No one, then, should be surprised to find that just as old-style politicians could feed on a harvest of hardship, so a new, though smaller, class can glean a leaving from the scattered personal problems left behind after a systematic social program cuts across the urban landscape.
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