The legislative process can be a drag. After all, what's the use in jumping through a bunch of legal hoops to affect change when you can just blackmail, and coerce and extort your way to political glory? In the playbook of classic American politics, entering into elections with the universal support of thousands of dead voters is what's called "a winning strategy." Whistle-blowers might balk at the so-called corruption a scheme like this entails, leaving the bosses among us—people like Boss Tweed, Richard J. Daley and Rod Blagojevich—with no other option than to jail these killjoys.

For better or worse, this is the legacy of street-level politics in America: bribery, patronage, and deception. And so it continues today, with government scandals breaking out in so many of our most important locales. Get to know our nation's latest shady dealings: A Recent History of Corruption in Major American Cities.

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