May 19th, 2010
09:54 AM ET

Dear Mr. President #485 "Where the rubber...and the politics...really hit the road"

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/05/19/art.vert.richardson.jpg caption="Spoke to New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson this week as part of our Building Up America series. This state is doing its best to draw green energy companies and make jobs." width=292 height=320]

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: I continue my road trip through New Mexico, and my letters to the White House, writing this one from the lovely city of Santa Fe.

Dear Mr. President,

My understanding is that there was some sort of voting going on across the country yesterday, but to be honest I’ve been so busy talking to people who are not running for office that I didn’t have much time to keep an eye on those who are.

I’ll read up on the results today, but being the political psychic I am (or play on TV) I’ll bet it went something like this: A few folks won/lost who were expected to; a few folks won/lost who were not expected to; the prognosticators left and right lined up like cattle to bump their gums about what it means; and in all likelihood, it actually means next to nothing. Of course an entire cottage industry in DC sleeps, eats, and breathes the details of such stuff, so I guess I better just keep my mouth shut and let them prattle on for a while, but between you and me I’m not expecting the earth to move, no matter the final results.

Meanwhile, here in New Mexico I continue to have a wonderful time. We spent the day chasing down a story about efforts to lure more solar energy companies to the Land of Enchantment. Governor Bill Richardson, one of your old Democratic opponents and pals, has the state offering a variety of incentives to help draw these green energy companies (I think one is a free iPod! But…uh…I’m just guessing..) and it seems to be working. They are laying claim to 2,500 new jobs here this year from solar and solar-related companies. Not too shabby.

Anyway, the governor and I had a nice walk and talk about the state’s issues and some other programs he’s working on, and I was struck by something that I’ve thought of many times before: If you want to actually make a day-to-day difference in the lives of citizens, you can do that much more effectively at the state level than on the national stage. I’m sorry, and I mean no offense, but it is true.

What goes on in Congress and in the Oval Office does have an impact, but often it seems to be on some kind of grand, complex, glacial scale to which a lot of us regular citizens don’t particularly feel connected. But the person who brings actual jobs to our town, or fixes our potholes, or makes sure our schools have books, or keeps enough police officers on the streets…that is a politician who probably matters a heck of a lot more in our lives, at least immediately.

Maybe that’s why all this kerfuffle over this voting didn’t grab me much; because I’m just not entirely sure how much it matters, compared to many other elections I have seen.

It’s late and I’m tired. By the time you read this I will be rolling fast toward the Four Corners area to check in with some Navajo farmers. I’m telling you, you should be along for the ride…



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soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Kirk Hill

    Thank you very much for your efforts Mr. Foreman.

    I was wondering if you ever get a response from the President other than the instant one when you initially email the White House?
    I've sent four emails about the Gulf disaster and don't have a true response yet. Have you received anything after 485 attempts?

    You probably didn't see the ac360 interview last night with Mr. Dudley. Anderson asked him about the chemicals being dumped into the Gulf and at one point Mr. Dudley indicated that the microbes eat the oil drops. It reminded me of one of Johnny Carson's most infamous comments about good news and bad news.

    If the martians land before the next election we should have plenty of gasoline.

    Thanks for the great reporting and I would be interested to know if the White House ever responds to you.

    May 20, 2010 at 4:25 am |
  2. Maggie Shannon

    Tom,I sure hope the President takes time out of his day to read your letters.Lots of good stuff but you always make me laugh! I am liking what you are doing on NM.

    May 19, 2010 at 11:43 pm |
  3. William Quinlivan

    Tom, I think the reporting you are doing is great. I was very happy to see that New Mexico was getting more green tech jobs, but I have to say, I was somewhat disappointed that the company doing the hiring was a German company by the name of Shot (a big German glass maker). Why can't we get some American companies into these businesses? This is another angle you should be reporting. We will not get this country turned around by being service providers and purchasers / consumers of other countries products, even if they are assembled here. I am sick of turning everything over and seeing that it is made in China. I seriously doubt if that is the case in Europe. We need a shot in the arm for American innovation and home grown green technologies. We need to build American innovation back into our economy, find ways of doing what the world needs better than anyone else is doing and stay out front. I am not a protectionist, there is no room for that in the world marketplace, but I do believe in finding a way to give our American innovators a bit of a boost so that they have an opportunity to gain a market edge. In your travels, I challenge you to find out if any of this is occurring in our wonderful country and let us know if they can be blueprints for a wider degree of practice.

    May 19, 2010 at 3:36 pm |

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