Going National: Urban Issues and the Public Debate

With four-fifths of Americans living in urban areas, we are a nation of cities, yet this is not the narrative you’re likely to hear in our national political conversation. As a result, urban policy doesn’t get the debate it deserves. But as U.S. cities change and evolve, it may finally be time for urban issues to become something that both parties care about.

In media reports and stump speeches, you’ll hear that true American identity resides in the heartland, on Main Street, in our farms and small towns—and in our ubiquitous suburbs. The suburbs are the political battlegrounds where the parties vie for attention, so it is no surprise that suburban issues, like the price of gasoline, get a voice, while more “urban” concerns, like public transportation or infrastructure planning, get short shrift.

A recent op-ed in The New York Times by Kevin Baker, titled “How the G.O.P. Became the Anti-Urban Party,” gives a great history of how this perceived bifurcation between cities and the rest of America came to be, why it is problematic, and why its days may be numbered. Continue reading