The cities on the hill: How urban insitutions transform national politics

Thomas K. Ogorzalek*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportBook

20 Scopus citations


Recent electoral cycles have drawn attention to an urban-rural divide at the heart of American politics. This book traces the origins of red and blue America. The urbanicity divide began with the creation of an urban political order that united leaders from major cities and changed the Democratic Party during the New Deal era. These cities, despite being the site of serious, complex conflicts at home, are remarkably cohesive in national politics because members of city delegations represent their city as well as their district. Even though their constituents often don't see eye-to-eye on important issues, members of these city delegations represent a united city position known as progressive liberalism. Using a wide range of congressional evidence and a unique dataset measuring the urbanicity of U.S. House districts over time, this book argues that city cohesion, an invaluable tool used by cities to address their urgent governance needs through higher levels of government, is fostered by local institutions developed to provide local political order. Crucially, these integrative institutions also helped foster the development of civil rights liberalism by linking constituencies that were not natural allies in support of group pluralism and racial equality. This in turn led to the departure from the coalition of the Southern Democrats, and to our contemporary political environment. The urban combination of diversity and liberalism-supported by institutions that make allies out of rivals-teaches us lessons for governing in a world increasingly characterized by deep social difference and political fragmentation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages338
ISBN (Electronic)9780190668877
ISBN (Print)9780190668914
StatePublished - Apr 19 2018


  • Chicago
  • Federalism
  • Institutional analysis
  • Liberalism
  • Machine politics
  • New York
  • Party realignment
  • Polarization
  • Race
  • Urban politics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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