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

(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.
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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

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
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