Day 1857: You Can’t Fight City Hall

You can’t fight the proliferation of definitions on the internet for phrases like “You Can’t Fight City Hall.”

The Urban Dictionary:

you can’t fight city hall

it is useless to clash with a politician or establishment, it is foolish to fight a battle that you can’t win

“After getting no support for the destitute for 10 years, I have learned you can’t fight city hall.”

can’t fight City Hall

Unable to overcome bureaucratic rules, as in Brad couldn’t get a permit without going through channels—you can’t fight City Hall! This term transfers the seat of city government to a more general sense of bureaucracy in any sphere. [Mid-1800s ]


can’t fight City Hall


(you) can’t fight city hall


You cannot defeat or prevail over a bureaucratic system or its rules. You might as well 
pay those parking tickets now because you’ll never win in court. You can’t fight city hall, after all.
See also:cityfighthall
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

(You) can’t fight city hall.


There is no way to win in a battle against a bureaucracy. Bill: I guess I’ll go ahead and 
pay the tax bill. Bob: Might as well. You can’t fight city hall. Mary: How did things go at 
your meeting with the zoning board? Sally: I gave up. Can’t fight city hall.
See also:cityfighthall
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Even though you can’t fight city hall, I went to City Hall yesterday (fighting snow and traffic)  to fight an excessively high tax assessment of our new property on the South Shore of Boston.
Maybe there are two kinds of people in this world: Those who fight City Hall and those who don’t (like Bill, Bob,  and Sally, above).
I can’t fight my urges to fight city hall and to take pictures everywhere, including City Hall:
You can’t fight the freeze in New England, so you might as well eat ice cream.


You can’t fight the thoughts and feelings you have about this post, so why bother?


I can’t fight my gratitude for all who helped me create today’s blog and — of course! — YOU.




Categories: definition, personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

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22 thoughts on “Day 1857: You Can’t Fight City Hall

  1. I love the feel of that ice cream joint, Ann. I wouldn’t fight the urge to visit that place.

    • I won’t, Mark. With all the fighting I’ve been doing, I haven’t been visiting your wonderful blog that much. I won’t fight the urge to visit now.

  2. Sometimes I’m very tired of fighting every day, but I still manage to pull on the boxing gloves, and get ready for the Bell 🛎

  3. Hmmm.. I like to think I can! 🙂

    And sometimes we can… like when municipal elections roll around, you can fight city hall by voting out the elected officials who do not act to change bureaucratic nonsense.

    In our case, we were really pleased with the assessment on our new home. We knew we’d gotten it at a good price — and the assessment proves we did! 🙂

    • I can’t fight the bold sense of your thoughts, Louise, nor would I want to. Many thanks for your always helpful perspective.

  4. Good luck with your tax assessment battle. Good for you for taking that on.

  5. I fought the county of Cold Spring about 5 years ago — they over-assessed my property with an under-assessed house. Didn’t do any good. Had to go with the tax increase anyway. So take it to City Hall if you can, but don’t expect much. Ha.

  6. Contrary to the opinions of Bill, Bob, and Sally, there is, in fact, historical evidence that you can fight city hall. See, for instance, the case of Haley vs. United States. Haley: 7, United States: nothing.

  7. Good for you Ann, fo standing up for what you think is right! Your voice counts 😊

  8. I live in a small town and it never ceases how many of our council people will bend the rules for their friends (and themselves) and then draw a hard line with other people. And they don’t think there’s anything wrong. But they can be voted out of office.

  9. I have never tried to fight city hall and any hall or any person

  10. Did you win?

  11. Pingback: Day 1858: Falling | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

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