Political Machines & unscaling

The political “machine” is one of the most mythological forces in elective campaigns. They were influential for generations in cities whose mayors and leaders handed out jobs and contracts through patronage that enforced partisan outcomes…But those big-city machines lost much of their mojo in the last decade as politics flattened and a band of new progressives used the Internet and social media to fundraise and organize, toppling the old guard.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2020/07/10/daily-202-2020-primaries-reveal-the-atrophy-of-political-machines/5f078a5c88e0fa7b44f717f2/

Reading that I was struck by how it connected to a post I wrote a few years ago (reposted on this blog). The post was about the idea of unscaling — “dismantling all large-scale, vertically integrated, mass-market institutions” — and how it could be applied to politics.

In this I pointed out that:

Applying the idea of unscaling in this context, media disintermediation does not just apply to the relationship between politicians and the mainstream media. It also applies to the relationship between politicians and their parties. Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have not only had to fight issues with media coverage, they have also had to battle against their party’s establishment. Their success is an example of successful unscaling…This means that the disruption to the political mainstream may not follow the antecedent of new parties but as insurgent candidates taking over established ones.

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