By Jack Hackley
When I was a kid growing up in Eastern Jackson County, two factions fought over control of the county and all the patronage jobs and other benefits. They were the Tom Pendergast’s faction, called the Goats, and Joe Shannon’s faction, known as the Rabbits. Pendergast owned a concrete company and got Kansas City, Kan. to pay him to pave Brush Creek, which ranthrough Kansas City. It’s the only creek in the nation that was paved.
There were hardly any Republicans in Jackson County, and the Democratic voters were known as either Rabbits or Goats. Pendergast would buy the loafers’ vote with a half pint of whiskey, and then buy the poor peoples’ vote with some food and by having county workers drive around with truckloads of coal to shovel in their coal bin. Since Harry Truman was Eastern Judge of Jackson County, and a Goat, my dad almost always voted with the Pendergast faction. Our Democratic committeeman, who was also the road overseer, would come by before every election and hand my dad a sample ballot and tell him “This is how we are voting this election,” and then say, “Looks like you could use some gravel.” The next day county trucks would spread gravel on our driveway.
They do it differently now, but they still buy our votes. Obama spent almost $20 on every vote he got. Claire spent about $12, Nixon $6, and even our state house candidate in Lafayette County spent $10 for every vote he received (and still lost). I figure all the Democratic candidates spent about $60 for my vote. The next election, I’m going to write a letter to the state and national Democratic Committees and tell them since I always vote Democrat to spend a little less on advertising and just send me a check.
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