What was the urban political machine?
The previous post was quite thorough. As part of the Gilded Age's approach to politics, the machine was developed as a way of "getting out the vote." If we put aside its corrupt elements and actually examined it as a political approach, one can see that there were some democratic tendencies present from a strictly theoretical standpoint. Most of the people whom the machine represented were those who lacked a voice in the political process. The machines did not represent the Rockefellers, the Carnegies, or the Stanfords. Rather, they represented the working class, the immigrants, and those who comprised the urban settings. The machines were based on patronage, and sought to provide for those who assisted it. As the machines gained more traction, they represented the trappings of power as they really did not enhance discourse or discussion, but rather grew out of their patronage element. Along these lines, the machines became both politically and financially beneficial to those who were a part of it, contributing to not only its formation but its sustenance.
Urban political machines were created mainly as a way for politicians to get power and to stay in power. Machines were a very effective way to reduce the risks of losing elections.
Basically, machines were created because politicians wanted power and because there were large populations of immigrants in the cities. These two factors allowed the machines to exist.
The machines gave jobs and other tangible benefits to the people who voted for them. In return, they demanded that people vote for them. They were able to enforce this deal because there were no secret ballots in those days.
The machine politicians kept power by forcing people to vote for them. They used their power to demand bribes from companies who wished to do business with or in the city.