Our Town: Restoring Localism


This is an introduction to a new report from the Center for Opportunity Urbanism, "Our Town: Restoring Localism." Download the full report here.

America is facing a critical moment in its evolution, one that threatens both its future prosperity and the integrity of its institutions. Over the past several decades, government has become increasingly centralized, with power shifting from local communities to the federal level. This has been accompanied by a decline in non-governmental institutions, a matter of concern to thinkers on both the right and the left.

The issue here is not the irrelevance or intrinsic evil of government itself, nor is it a debate of liberalism vs conservatism. Rather, it is a question of how to meet society’s primary challenges. Is it most effective to try and solve our myriad problems from a central federal, state or regional authority, or from a more local one?

We believe the right answer, in many cases, is to make a shift back towards local governing agencies, to neighborhoods, and to families. This change in direction would be a return to the roots of our current federal system, which allows different levels of government to make their own decisions, providing a market- place for various ideas and approaches.

To be sure, local governments also make mistakes, and they can be authoritarian, corrupt, and short-sighted in meeting the needs of residents. But for the most part, locally generated negatives remain contained to local jurisdictions, and can be fixed through the democratic process at the more accessible local level.

Download the full report here.