“What if a politician were to see his job as that of an organizer, as part teacher and part advocate, one who does not sell voters short but who educates them about the real choices before them?”
–President Barack Obama
A recent Andrew Sullivan blog post grabbed my attention and made me immediately consider the evolution of homeland security at the local level:
Brian Brown tracks the rise of localism in politics and the private sector:
Rather than the top-down hierarchical strategy of directed control, companies like [Starbucks] are developing organizational cultures manifested through smaller networks in which local knowledge matters…The organizations that have made these adjustments — or were founded based upon them, such as Apple, Amazon, and Google — are reporting higher job satisfaction, faster innovation, and greater profits than organizations still laboring under the old methods.
Unfortunately, the rest of the quoted article makes a weak case for too much emphasis on top-down planning and too little on bottom up development of policy solutions (truth be told a case to which I am very sympathetic, but the author mistakenly characterizes or simply misunderstands efforts originating from both ends of the government spectrum). It did, however, remind me of the importance of this core issue.
Shortly after President Obama took office, I wrote a short opinion piece hoping that the rhetoric of the campaign, as well as the stated preferences of some of the President’s advisers, would result in a fundamental redistribution (does this make me a socialist?) of homeland security authority from the federal level through the states and out to the local cities, counties, and other local governing arrangements.
The shortcomings of homeland security efforts are well known. Among them the failure to instill a “culture of preparedness” in the public and accusations that guidance emanates from Washington without any consideration of local conditions. This stems from a federal point of view that considers homeland security an extension of national security dictated from inside the beltway. Change will require upending this perspective.
I am certainly not the first to write about the importance of a local focus on homeland security. What, if anything, has changed in the power dynamic between various levels of government in regards to homeland security?
Perhaps because I am personally not in a position to witness it, I have my doubts that any real power/influence/decision making has been delegated to the non-federal level. Without a doubt, communication, information sharing, and even perhaps intelligence dissemination have improved. A result of both the philosophies of those currently(and most recently) in positions of influence and recent events (such as the BP oil spill and Hurricane Irene), inter and intra-governmental communication and consultation are held in high regard.
What of actual power or influence? Recently, some cities and states have rejected federal immigration enforcement guidelines due to what law enforcement officials in those jurisdictions judge is a negative safety cost/benefit analysis for their residents. This is an assertion of local authority, not a re-conceptualization of the division of homeland security authority.
Has that happened? Is it possible? Have I missed a change in this story–whether positive or negative (entirely possible, as I have little insight into the daily interaction within government and between government and NGOs, private business, citizens, etc.)?