Over the last fifty years, the percentage of people around the globe living in urban areas has increased from 30% to over 50%, but cities have not seen a corresponding increase in political power. Instead, nation-states and transnational institutions that network them have become the centers of power relations.
In the United States, over half the population lives in just 39 metro areas, but each of these areas consist of many different municipal, county and even state governments. The New York Metro Area, for example, has over 20 million residents in four different states and over a dozen counties, and no political organization to represent its interests.
Over the last two thousands years, cities have frequently been more politically powerful than the nations and empires in which they’ve been located. Cities, municipalities and regional governments have performed many nation-state like functions such as building trade networks, engaging in foreign relations, waging war, completing massive public infrastructure projects and protecting their residents from state violence.
We need new political bodies at the “metro-areas” that can not only advance the interests of residents at national and international levels, but also to perform some of the functions of national and international institutions that are no longer trusted by urban residents.