In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, political machines controlled most of the major urban areas of the country, including New York City, Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago. These organizations were often corrupt and brutal, using underhanded tactics to stay in power such as registration fraud, intimidation, and vote rigging. And yet, if political machines were so corrupt, why did the voters allow this to happen? This game illustrates this central question, by having students play the roles of either the machine party, the hapless opposition party or different types of voters.
The .zip file contains the following:
-15 page lesson plan outlining the history of political machines and a thorough explanation of the game. The main activity of the game could take about a normal 60-minute class period. I also include alternate versions of the game:
-Reformer version: This shows what happens to machines once reformers come to town! (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!)
-Boss version: Watch intraparty conflict as the boss attempts to get as rich as possible off the party's expense.
-Ethnicity version: Newly arrived Irish and Italian immigrants helped machines function. What happens with identity clashes with political loyalty?
-Quicker version: Tips on speeding up any version of the game.
-Supplementary files for use in the game:
-Power cards - allow the students to unleash political chaos at the right time
-Events sheets (Excel or Word) - easily keep track of the money in the game
-Role sheets - students are presented with the goals of their character
-24 slide Power Point with description of political parties (tactics/history) and instructions for game
-3 student worksheets with 2 answer keys
If you're interested in more games that show students how government works, check out the following:
Tragedy of the commons: why does individual self-interest clash with what's best for the community?
The benefits of interest groups: why do interest groups form and stay active?
The platform game: why do centrist parties typically win elections in America?
Gov Games and Lesson Plans
***Attached files include pdfs, Word files, an optional Excel file and a Power Point in a zip file***