Blue-Red, Northeast-South, Secular-Fundamentalist...the political divisions, when laid out on a color-coded map of America, tell a very clear story: Urban vs. Other. Cities are Democratic strong-holds; the blue oases against the red desolation that covers so much of the electoral landscape.
And yet, the debates in 2004, 2002 and 2000 were not city issues vs. rural issues. In fact, city issues -- urban poverty, overcrowded schools, environmental racism -- just don't get talked about much. Ever since Clinton put more police officers on the streets, urban issues have been off the table.
The Drum Major Institute is promoting Thursday's event with Buffalo's new Mayor Byron Brown and New York's Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott by broaching that question. "When is the last time you heard a presidential candidate talk about cities?" it's flier teases. "Exactly."
But setting aside who urban issues divide, for a moment, look at who they are uniting: the Democratic Mayor of Buffalo, and the Deputy Mayor of New York's Republican leader. The bi-partisanship isn't even whispered in the invitation, but we know it's there.
Walcott's appearance is an extentenion of Mayor Mike duking it out with DC by going after guns and angering Albany by supporting schools. It seems like in their second term, the Mayor's team is choosing times and places where city comes before party.