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CityLab
Economy

Fixing the New Urban Crisis

Cities are at the heart of the inequality that divides the nation. They’re also the key to the solution.
The economic power of America's superstar cities has made them increasingly unattainable. But "winner-take-all urbanism" can be fixed.
The economic power of America's superstar cities has made them increasingly unattainable. But "winner-take-all urbanism" can be fixed.Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters

When was the last time you heard a national politician talk thoughtfully about cities and urban policy or make them an integral part of his or her agenda?

Former president Barack Obama grew up in cities and clearly cares deeply about them, but even his administration failed to make any substantial moves on urban policy. The 2016 Democratic primary featured two former mayors, Bernie Sanders of Burlington, Vermont, and Martin O’Malley of Baltimore; a third, former Richmond mayor Tim Kaine, eventually joined the Democratic ticket as Hillary Clinton’s running mate. Aside from O’Malley’s invocations of urban policy (which I helped craft), cities and urban policy were rarely, if ever, mentioned during the 2016 primaries or presidential campaign.