In government and economics, as in the natural world, "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe," says John Muir.
The situation the world suffers under today is the culmination of centuries of intertwined economic and governmental manipulation. The corporate oligarchy now in control of the government of the united States is as much economic as it is political, making the world safe for capitalist exploitation at home and abroad. Change at the local level, where it counts, means change in the way we citizens think about our economies and political relationships, as well as changing those institutions that carry out our visions.
As we see in our present paroxysm of jingoistic patriotism (aka, DNC/RNC), political promises that "change is coming" are merely bait and switch tactics to maintain the status quo. Neither Obama/Biden nor McCain/Palin desire change in the system that has allowed them access to positions of power, nor do their handlers/sponsors/financiers. Though the window dressing may change, the basic power structures have remained in place since the American Revolutionary War (which failed to produce a revolution).
The united States government has always used a combination of economic manipulation and government regulation, backed up by military force, to extend and establish economic hegemony throughout North America and most of the rest of the world. Once we established a standing army (and navy), they were used by the central government to threaten, and when necessary beat others into submission, if necessary through invasion and occupation, to bring a widening circle of client states under uS domination.
Global climate change and Peak Oil promise to bring real change to the economic side. We feel it first here at the local level and see it expressed in the growth of farmer's markets, barter, and other forms of local economic enterprise, as the global economy becomes more expensive and irrelevant.
Local economy is the kernel around which we can build local self-government. As the central government wastes more and more resources attempting to maintain a dying empire, we will be forced more and more to fend for ourselves locally. This is a good thing! Mother Nature is an uncaring, harsh and firm teacher, and, over time, we will re-take our place in the web of life.
It's hard and it's fair.