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A weekly look at creativity, arts, and culture in southwest Michigan, hosted by Zinta Aistars.Fridays in Morning Edition at 7:50am and at 4:20pm during All Things Considered.

Art Beat: Feeding Frenzy

George Franklin
Courtesy of the author
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George Franklin
George Franklin

He’s been a lawyer, a lobbyist, and a vice-president of worldwide government affairs for the Kellogg Company in Battle Creek. George Franklin also ran for Congress at one point, coming in second among a crowded field of primary candidates. He’s also the author of four novels. The newest is A Feeding Frenzy in Washington (FPA Books, 2023). In it, Franklin draws on his years of experience working as a lobbyist in Congress on behalf of the food industry, creating a parody of those who run our government.

A conversation with George Franklin

“The book is fictional, the characters are fictional, but there is a thread of reality through the book,” Franklin says. “I think anyone who reads it will get a feel for the ebb and the flow of what you really do as a lobbyist in Washington. The people are composites of real people, of people I’ve worked with, I’ve met, I’ve interacted with.”

Front cover of A Feeding Frenzy
FPA Books
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George Franklin
Front cover of A Feeding Frenzy

Referring to today’s divisive political climate, Franklin says, “We need some good laughs. You know, we need to tone it down. It is so vicious and so mean-spirited now, and it wasn’t always that way. When I first started in Washington, I was a young guy, a lowly Hill staffer, as I mention in the book. There was a spirit about the place that was quite different, and there were bipartisan relationships that superseded the politics of the day. It was a much healthier climate.”

Franklin says he doesn’t regret the experience of running as a Democratic primary candidate for Michigan’s Sixth Congressional District, but he adds that it taught him some hard lessons about how much effort that required, not to mention the mudslinging and personal attacks any political candidate must endure.

Another lesson learned, he says, was the importance of local elections, even as we have veered away from them. “It used to be that local community activities were a critical aspect of getting elected to office. You’re active in your Rotary Club. You’re active in your union, or whatever civic activities you’re involved in. The races have now become national. They’re funded nationally, the issues are national, and everybody is fighting to get on CNN or Fox News or MSNBC. I think we’ve lost the local component, the local influence that was critical in the days when you first ran for office. I just think it’s an unhealthy environment.”

Even as today’s politics have become difficult, Franklin says his belief that democracy will survive and continue to be strong. But having a good laugh at ourselves now and then won’t hurt.

Franklin’s previous novels include Raisin Bran and Other Cereal Wars; So, You Think You Want to Run for Congress; and Incentives: The Holy Water of Free Enterprise.

Listen to WMUK's Art Beat every Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.

Zinta Aistars is our resident book expert. She started interviewing authors and artists for our Arts & More program in 2011.
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