Friday, April 25, 2014

Progressive Forgetting

"Cities lack the funding to make many of the changes new Democratic mayors seek --most are scram bling to find the funds for universal preschool, for instance -- but, in the spirit of Louis Brandeis's laboratories of democracy, they are incubating the future of liberalism and the nation."

Harold Meyerson, "Cradles of Progressivism," The Washington Post, April 24, 2014.

Commentaries about progressive cities in light of NYC's Bill de Blasio's election invoke the days of FDR and the progressive movement of the early 20th century. I've been surprised and annoyed by their forgetfulness about a score of mayors from the 1970s through the 1990s who played similar progressive roles in advancing social equity, government transparency, and citizen empowerment.  There is much to be learned from mayors like Harold Washington in Chicago and Ray Flynn of Boston -- not only about how to use the powers of local government in progressive ways, but how to keep progressivism alive while governing.  Unfortunately, a few progressive policies, however important, do not make "urban regime" change. At least not yet.

No comments: