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(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: city, fight, hall

go fight city hall

One cannot defeat or prevail over a bureaucratic system or its rules (despite the connotation of the phrase as an encouragement of action). Good luck fighting those parking tickets—you might as well go fight city hall!
See also: city, fight, go, hall

(You) can't fight city hall.

Fig. 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: city, fight, 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]
See also: city, fight, hall

You can’t fight city hall

sent. You cannot fight a bureaucracy. You can’t fight city hall. Pay the parking ticket and forget it.
See also: city, fight, hall

can't fight City Hall, one/you/they

An ordinary person cannot overcome bureaucracy. The term is American in origin, for it is mainly in the United States that the seat of a city government is called City Hall (and has been since the late seventeenth century). The idea of combating the city bureaucracy is believed to date from the nineteenth century, when Tammany Hall was a powerful political machine that controlled the New York Democratic Party and, in effect, the city government.
See also: city, fight, one

you can't fight City Hall

See can't fight city hall.
See also: city, fight, hall

go fight city hall

The futility of challenging entrenched politicians or establishment. Although sounding like a call to action, the phrase means that any effort to succeed against bureaucracy is doomed to failure. It was popularized, although not coined, in the book Go Fight City Hall by Ethel Rosenberg, who with her husband Julius was later executed after being convicted of spying for Russia.
See also: city, fight, go, hall
References in classic literature ?
At length the doors leading into The Hall of Chiefs swung open, and the resplendent bridegroom stood framed for a moment in the massive opening.
Bute at the parsonage nightly looked out to see if the sky was red over the elms behind which the Hall stood, and the mansion was on fire.
"Adieu." Thus followed by his men, one bearing the head of Peter of Colfax upon the platter of gold, Norman of Torn passed quietly from the hall and from the castle.
The criminal meant to entrap some one of the race of men in the high hall. He went under the welkin, until he saw most clearly the wine hall, the treasure house of men, variegated with vessels.
Each night, after Sierra Vista had gone to bed, she rose and let in White Fang to sleep in the big hall. Now White Fang was not a house-dog, nor was he permitted to sleep in the house; so each morning, early, she slipped down and let him out before the family was awake.
"You'll do, for a beginner," Hall cried, slapping him jovially on the bare shoulder.
"I was a boy in my teens at the time of my father's death and had never seen the Hall, for he lived in a little cottage on the South Coast.
I'll introduce him, Anna, just as soon as we get to the hall."
It was no easy matter on that day, to force one's way into that grand hall, although it was then reputed to be the largest covered enclosure in the world (it is true that Sauval had not yet measured the grand hall of the Château of Montargis).
"We stop at Belford on our way back, to see some friends of my husband, and we hope to get to Redwood Hall in good time on the
A few moments before the appointed time on the following morning a strong guard of Zat Arras' officers appeared at our quarters to conduct us to the great hall of the temple.
If he will adopt these regulations, in seven years he will be clear; and I hope we may be able to convince him and Elizabeth, that Kellynch Hall has a respectability in itself which cannot be affected by these reductions; and that the true dignity of Sir Walter Elliot will be very far from lessened in the eyes of sensible people, by acting like a man of principle.
In a hall, the height of which was greatly disproportioned to its extreme length and width, a long oaken table, formed of planks rough-hewn from the forest, and which had scarcely received any polish, stood ready prepared for the evening meal of Cedric the Saxon.
Braithwaite that I was dining at the hall. She was busy cooking, and I felt prepared for her unpleasant expression; but she showed no annoyance at my news.
Down through the twilight sank five attacking airships, one to the Navy Yard on East River, one to City Hall, two over the great business buildings of Wall Street and Lower Broadway, one to the Brooklyn Bridge, dropping from among their fellows through the danger zone from the distant guns smoothly and rapidly to a safe proximity to the city masses.