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The Boss

By David Dayton McKean
This Web version, edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2003

Huey Long once said that if the United States ever became fascist it would do so under democratic, anti-fascist slogans. The cult of nationalism, with its Americanization Day parades, its rallies, flags, and speeches, may all be observed in Jersey City. The Hague organization, like Mussolini, Franco, and Hitler (in his earlier career), has adopted communism for its enemy a happily remote but convenient enemy.

Many political machines flourish – and have flourished – in America, but none has approached the perfection of the Hague organization in the completeness of its control over the society in which it exists. Even Tammany Hall, the prototype of all machine politics, never dominated New York as Hague and his political associates have dominated Jersey City and Hudson County. While no political institution can be entirely complete and successful, the one under examination here so nearly approaches the most finished machine that can be expected that any others may be measured against it.

Mussolini once said that Italy was too poor a country to afford a democratic government, implying that an authoritarian is less expensive. Similar assumptions are often made in the United States; but the citizen who thinks his democracy expensive may well examine what has happened in Jersey City, where the payroll has had to be sufficiently elastic to take in vast numbers of loyal party members. The costs of supporting a machine such as that Mayor Hague has built up are a sample of what a totalitarian regime would cost the whole country; paradoxically, a one-party government is more expensive than a two-party system.


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