Urban America's 'Reconnaissance Mission for Progressive Politics'

Recent commenters have described cities as the locus for a new type of liberalism that benefits a broader swath of demographics. Dissenters wonder whether certain progressive cities, enabled by privilege, are merely drivers of inequality.
May 9, 2014, 5am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Standing in opposition to the "declining ability of the American political order to deliver a steadily rising standard of living to the vast middle and working classes," says Thomas B, Edsall, are mayors from New York to Seattle "committed to deploying the power of city government and aggressive wage and tax policies to attack inequality and revive social and economic mobility." Mayors of American cities may be, in fact, "charting a new course for American liberalism."

The argument follows that of Harold Meyerson, author of "The Revolt of the Cities," which provides the inspiration for Edsall's editorial/review. "Meyerson’s list of new mayors charting the new liberalism includes (but is not limited to) Pittsburgh’s Bill Peduto, Minneapolis’s Betsy Hodges, Seattle’s Ed Murray, Boston’s Martin Walsh, Santa Fe’s Javier Gonzales and, of course, New York City’s Bill de Blasio."

Edsall, however, notes a few reasons to be cautious about the power of cities. "First and foremost, a number of the cities Meyerson points to have exceptional, built-in advantages: major research universities; financial and high-tech corporate centers; substantial and strong artistic and intellectual communities. Pittsburgh, for example, has Carnegie Mellon, metropolitan Boston has Harvard and M.I.T., Seattle has Microsoft and Amazon, and New York has its own varied, almost endless resources."

The question remains, according to Edsall "whether the policies and programs developed in the nation’s thriving urban core will prove to be broadly applicable."

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Published on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 in New York Times
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