Theses Doctoral

The Cities on the Hill: Urban Politics in National Institutions

Ogorzalek, Thomas

The contemporary "Red-Blue" political alignment is characterized by a national divide between cities and rural areas. This urbanicity divide is stronger than it has ever been in our modern history, but it began with the development of an urban political order that changed the Democratic Party during the New Deal era. These cities, despite being the site of serious, multidimensional conflicts at home, have been remarkably cohesive in the way they represent themselves in national politics, forming "city delegations" whose members attend to more than their own district's concerns. These city delegations tend to cohesively represent a "city" interest that often coincides with what we think of as liberalism. Using evidence from Congress, where cities represented themselves within the nation, and a unique dataset measuring the urbanicity of House districts over time, this dissertation evaluates the strength of this urban political order and argues that city delegation cohesion, which is a basic strategic tool if cities are to address their urgent governance needs through action at higher levels of government, is fostered by local institutions developed to provide local political order. Importantly, these integrative institutions also helped foster the development of civil rights liberalism by linking constituencies composed largely of groups that were not natural allies on such issues. This development in turn contributed to the departure of the Southern Democratic bloc, and to our contemporary political environment. This combination--of diversity and liberalism, supported by institutions that make allies of constituencies that might easily be rivals--has significant implications for an America characterized by deep social difference and political fragmentation.

Geographic Areas


  • thumnail for Ogorzalek_columbia_0054D_11153.pdf Ogorzalek_columbia_0054D_11153.pdf application/pdf 4.28 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Political Science
Thesis Advisors
Katznelson, Ira
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
February 13, 2013