As Local Politics Change, So Will National Politics
One line I liked about President Bush's speech tonight: | "As local politics change, so will national politics."
He was talking about Iraq, but it's true for the United States too.
As we enter a Presidential year, it's something to keep in mind.
It's not like we don't hear it all of the time - all politics is local.
But what does it mean?
To me, it means getting to know your neighbors, speaking with them about their daily needs, problems, ideas.
It's not the kind of thing you hear regularly in national political circles.
At the local level, there's little talk about political parties, or ideologies, or issues like climate change or corporate crime.
It's about birthday parties, and truck traffic, and billboards, and development.
I really like interviewing people.
I do it every week at my day job in Washington, D.C., as editor of
Corporate Crime Reporter, a print newsletter for prosecutors, defense attorneys, law schools and large media outlets.
Every week, I spend an hour or so interviewing someone who knows something about corporate crime.
I then publish the interview question/answer format in Corporate Crime Reporter.
I've been doing it every week for twenty years.
Twenty years ago, the first interview I did for Corporate Crime Reporter was with Rudolph Giuliani.
He was at the time the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan.
And he was leading the way in criminal prosecutions of corporate and white collar crime.
Twenty years and some 1,000 interviews later, I'm still at it.
But a few years ago, in my spare time, I started interviewing local people where I live - in Morgan County, West Virginia.
Not about corporate crime, but about their lives and issues in their lives.
And I started writing local news stories.
Some friends of mine helped me and we put up a web site - morgancountyusa.org.
At the profiles section, you'll see the interviews I've done with local citizens. (Click on their pictures to see the interviews.)
At the news section, you'll see the news stories I've written.
Every time we post a news story or interview, it is sent out to an e-mail list of about 400 interested people in the community.
Morgancountyusa.org has served as a catalyst for political change in Morgan County. Haven't heard much exciting about political change at the national level for next year.
But I like the idea of using morgancountyusa.org as a building block.
It can be easily replicated.
It's not that expensive to run.
And if each of the 3,000 counties in the country had such an activist web site like morgancountyusa.org, we'd have a better country.
"As local politics change, so will national politics."
Thank you, President Bush.
My sentiment, exactly.
Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter.