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Open Columnist - Asking for Your Input

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As many of you know, this year I have started writing a nationally syndicated weekly newspaper column through Creators Syndicate. From the beginning, I set out to make this column different from the typical inside-the-Beltway, divorced-from-everyday-reality bromides that fill our media (Time magazine's Joe Klein this week fully illustrated how destructive and wholly out of touch many national opinionmakers are - and how they are soiling journalism, in part, because they never actually verify the actual facts, much less seriously interact with their readers). In attempting to build a column that is in touch with readers, I want to engage the public as much as possible. As one of the very few columnists living outside the Beltway and as one of the only columnists with a deep connection to the Netroots and grassroots politics, my goal is to pioneer a new model - call it the Open Columnist.

So, just like I did back in October, I'm asking for your input to help guide my column.

Since the last survey in October, I have written 7 columns. Here is a short review, in reverse chronological order (from newest to oldest):

  • Was Ross Perot Right?: At the most recent Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas, Hillary Clinton tried to avoid Wolf Blitzer's question about whether Ross Perot's NAFTA predictions were correct. Here's the answer to his question - and why Clinton tried to duck it in the first place.
  • The Immigration Con Artists: The most craven lawmakers in Congress are trying to scapegoat a voiceless population as a way to divert the public's attention from the issues of corporate power and corruption that are at the root of the illegal immigration issue.
  • The Huey Longs of Iowa: Two candidates - one a Democrat, the other a Republican - are defying the odds by putting up a strong fight in the Iowa presidential caucuses. How have they done it while being grossly outspent? It's the populism, stupid.
  • Halloween and the Lead Monster: A new report shows how the collision of lobbyist-written trade policies and conservatives' deregulation ideology leaves kids awash in lead-soaked products.
  • The Invisible Culture of Corruption: A letter by lawmakers-turned-lobbyists shows that on the most important economic issues, Washington's culture of corruption has become so widespread that the media and the politicians expect us to completely ignore it.
  • Captive-Industry Populism: Outsourcing and free trade have led state and local lawmakers to believe that any populist economic policies they propose will hurt their economies. But at least some leaders have figured out how to channel populism into policies that oversee captive industries.
  • Confronting the Hollow Men: Though little reported by the national media, a look at the states shows that the effectiveness of the Republicans' 30-year anti-tax revolution is ebbing - and that's a good thing both for progressive politics and for the country at large.

As you can see, I tried to mix up the topics a bit and give some of the columns a heartland/Rocky Mountain flavor, all while staying timely (notice that, for instance, "The Huey Longs of Iowa" was timed to new Iowa polls, "The Invisible Culture of Corruption" was tied to the release of the letter and the imminent vote on the Peru Free Trade Agreement, the "Was Ross Perot Right?" column came right after the Democratic debate, and the Halloween and the Lead Monster" was timed to Halloween). I also tried to cover issues that rest of the media totally ignores, even though they are far more central to the daily lives of most Americans than the typical campaign gossip we get from many pundits.

Over at OpenLeft, I've set up a poll asking you which column you think was the best. It is a very blunt instrument, so for those who have a bit more time, please use the comments section to expand further. Which of the columns did you like and why? Which did you hate and why? Do you think my rationale about where to focus and where not to focus is sound? What issues do you think I should delve into? What issues should I avoid because they are too overexposed? And obviously, if you have specific column ideas, send them along.

I realize that many journalists don't ask for this kind of input, and some of them might see such request for reader engagement as strange. But I really do believe the more input I get, the better writer I can be - and the better exposure I can bring to the issues that are most important.

As always - if you'd like to see my column regularly in your local paper, use Media Matters' directory to find the contact info for your local editorial page editors. Get get in touch with them and point them to my Creators Syndicate site. And in case you are wondering whether your voice matters to editors, just know that your voices are really helping expand the column's reach. Most recently, the column has most recently been picked up by the Seattle Times and TruthDig, and it looks like it will also be available on the San Francisco Chronicle's website (it is already in the Chronicle's print edition).