I heard an interesting discussion on the TED Radio Hour last Tuesday. It was about the rise in significance of city-level politics. As someone who, as a democrat, represents less and less power at the national level, I found this encouraging.

I hope that I wasn’t stupidly encouraged – that this isn’t just wishful thinking – but the premise is that as the US govenment becomes more and more dysfunctional, its influence as a legislative force will get less and less. The interests of “the people,” 70% of whom live in cities, will rise at that local level, and that’s the level that will come to have the greatest significance.

Montpelier, where I live, is in far too good shape to attract attention as a place that needs a lot of change. But a security researcher named Robert Muggah spoke in the TED Radio Hour about How Are Some Fragile Cities Tackling Their Worst Problems. The primary references in his talk – these “fragile cities” – were located in other countries (he is based in Rio de Janeiro), but towards the end of the nine minute interview – at about 7’30” – he says that groups of mayors, police chiefs, and public transport officials from US cities, including Baltimore and Chicago, have come down to Rio to talk about that city’s success in dealing with problems that seemed almost fatal as recently as 10 years ago.

I hope that I wasn’t stupidly encouraged by the hope I felt – that political engagement on a local level is not just wishful thinking – but stupidly or not, I was encouraged.