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Why Progressive Cities in Conservative States are Losing Their Political Influence

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Austin mayor Steve Adler

Two refrains reverberate throughout the political discourse on America’s cities in this era of peak polarization. The first is that “cities are rising.” Citing frustration with federal gridlock, progressive city leaders are taking initiative on all manner of issues, including income inequality, climate change, voting reform, and public health. In so doing, cities across the United States—from Seattle to Pittsburgh to Indianapolis—are earning the label laboratories of progressive innovation.

The second is that “cities are sinking.” A proxy for the accelerating threat that climate change poses to United States cities, this narrative underscores the literal prospect of coastal cities becoming submerged, and the nationwide ripple effects that may come about as a result. It also shines a light on how President Donald Trump‘s climate change denial and his decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement exacerbate the difficulties cities already face in grappling with and preparing for climate disaster.

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