Mr. Galen, thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview at familyfoundation.org. It is quite a privilege to have such a noteworthy figure in the national conservative movement join us, especially with what must be a busy transition time in your life. You are the first national figure to do an interview with us. Congratulations! Although I suspect that accomplishment won't exactly move to the top of your curriculum vitae. ; - )
familyfoundation.org: You have been in the news lately. You have accepted a new job with U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas). What will you do in your capacity as her senior counselor?
Rich Galen: My portfolio includes oversight of the communications and speech-writing functions; but I also have license to look at other areas of the Senator's office operations.
familyfoundation.org: Can you describe what it is like to work for such high-profile leaders as former Vice President Dan Quayle and former Speaker Newt Gingrich and the opportunities it affords to positively affect policy?
Rich Galen: You must always remember it is the Vice President or the Speaker or the Senator who is the elected individual, not the advisor or the press secretary. Too often in Washington staff begins to believe it is the surrogate for, not the supporter of, the principal.
With that in mind, however, if you can establish a level of mutual trust, then in the confines of the office you may have the opportunity to shape policy. However, again, it is the principal's policy which comes out the door; not the staff's.
familyfoundation.org: How did you get recruited to speak at the Republican Party of Virginia Convention last week? Would you mind giving a synopsis of your keynote address and why you chose your theme?
Rich Galen: You'd have to ask Charlie Judd why he picked me, but I was honored that he did. My remarks were specifically aimed at reminding the delegates that even in a year when U.S. Senate and the President will be on the ballot, it all starts at the precinct.
I asked the delegates to keep in mind that a state-wide election is not won from Richmond, it is won by building a good precinct organization and then expanding that into a good neighborhood organization to good county organization.
If the GOP does that better than the Democrats, we will win in November.
familyfoundation.org: We are a conservative Christian grassroots public policy organization concerned about the direction of Virginia and the entire country on numerous issues. However, the pro-life, pro-family, traditional marriage and traditional family values issues are of particular concern. What advice can you give organizations like ours, our grassroots chapters and individuals to take up the challenges of affecting public policy, especially during times when the political winds seem to be coming from the other direction? Why is it important to stay engaged and how can single individuals or small groups get involved and make a difference?
Rich Galen: You must never lose sight of the effect letters-to-the editor, op-ed pieces, letters to the offices of elected officials, and appearing at public meetings — from school board to city council to county commission meetings — and make your voices heard.
Elected officials WANT to hear from you because they want to be certain they are keeping on top of the pulse of the community. Not every community has the same pulse, so don't take it for granted that a group with similar principles will be speaking for you.
familyfoundation.org: With its recent past election results, pundits now are calling Virginia a battleground state. Is Virginia helplessly moving left because of demographic change or does the conservative message resonate less with people looking for solutions to everyday problems, such as transportation, education and rising prices for food and gas?
Rich Galen: They are not mutually exclusive. Conservative principles, applied properly, will yield solutions to transportation, education, gas and food.
familyfoundation.org: We hear and read so much about change, yet that is vague. What is your sense of the electorate right now and how does that affect conservative candidates and what they stand for?
Rich Galen: "Change" as defined by the Left is not a new way forward, it is an about face to the policies which obtained for a half century until Ronald Reagan led America out of its Depression-era thinking and into a new era of less government, and greater personal opportunities.
familyfoundation.org: You started a very popular blog, mullings.com. What did you see at the time that made you think that blogs were going to be an important aspect of political communications?
Rich Galen: No. Had I known how important what has become known as the blogosphere was going to become, I would have been much more serious about it. As it is, Mullings recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and has been a joy to write through all years.
familyfoundation.org: What advice do you have for bloggers?
Rich Galen: First you have to have something to say. Second you have to write it in a voice which people want to read. Third — and perhaps most important — you have to write with a regularity and a frequency so that people who want to read what you have written don't drift away because there is no new material when they go looking at your blog.