Back in the early ’70s, I went to work on my first political campaign. I was eight years old at the time – a late start in my family of political junkies and activists. My debut was decidedly unremarkable: one Saturday morning, my parents piled me and my sister in the car, drove to a neighborhood a few miles away, and enlisted us in a small army of grown-ups walking the cold city streets and passing out fliers for some guy named Mel Ravitz, a Detroit city councilman seeking re-election.
If Mr. Ravitz appeared among the throngs that day, I never met him. But he managed ubiquity in my household – in the T-shirts, coffee mugs, bumper stickers, posters, buttons, yard signs, ink pens, hats, and other paraphernalia emblazoned with “Ravitz” that were in our rooms for months. Call it my inaugural: by the time I was a teenager, I had walked countless miles for a succession of candidates, from city council members to state reps to district court judges.
I suppose it’s only fitting that I would spend my career doing penance for such blind faith – walking the other side of the campaign trail as a journalist writing about politicians, and the business leaders who grease their wheels.
I’ve covered politics big and small alike, from school board meetings for the Detroit Free Press, to gubernatorial elections for Time, from trade policy debates for the New York Times, to columns about city procurement for the Charlotte Observer. And at most every turn, I’ve been inspired, astonished – or disillusioned at what I’ve learned.
My new blog, The Party Line: Raising the Curtain on Carolina Politics, is dedicated to examining regional issues and policies through the figures who give shape to them. These are critical, complex, and even downright confusing times we live in. There’s a lot to navigate nationally and in the Carolinas; whether it’s debates on gay marriage, public school closings, or tax incentives for economic development. The Party Line’s goal is to offer a provocative, intelligent look at the issues and players behind the action; a view that ultimately offers the necessary insight for Carolina voters to hold public servants more accountable.
With the DNC headed to Charlotte in 2012, the politics in these parts will get only more interesting – the theatre more dramatic, and at times amusing. Come join me behind the curtain – and let me hear your thoughts!