Jim Hightower’s Radio Lowdown

How Can Democrats Save the Party… From Their Own Leaders?

“It’s over.” “Biden’s numbers are in the ditch.” “Democrats are doomed.” “Call the priest.” These are Democrats talking! Even before November’s congressional elections are run, many conventional-thinking Democratic operatives are surrendering to a presumed Republican sweep. You don’t need a political science degree to know that if you start out announcing that you’ll lose, chances are you will – after all, who wants to vote for a party that shows no fighting spirit, no confidence in the appeal of its own ideas? What’s happening here is that the Party’s top leaders have decided their candidates can’t win in rural areas and smaller factory cities – so they’ve quit trying. Worse, they blame the voters, claiming that Trumpism, Fox News BS, and culture war nonsense have poisoned the minds of people “out there.” Thus, Party leaders have retreated from the countryside to focus entirely on big urban areas. Democratic Congressional leaders even killed their rural outreach programs, and the Party’s chairman in 2018 meekly declared: “You can’t door-knock in rural America.” Actually, sir, you can. And if you choose to abandon this whole working-class constituency – surprise! – it will abandon you. Worse, than failing to campaign along America’s dirt roads and factory streets, national Democrats have actively been pushing corporate policies that have ravaged families living there – including trade scams that sucking out union jobs; shamefully bailing out Wall Street bankers who crashed our real economy (while ignoring millions of devastated workaday people); and doing nothing about the corporate-caused farm depression still ripping across our land. Washington Democrats have largely betrayed this vital, FDRish constituency of millions that they now blithely dismiss as irredeemable. Did Party poohbahs think voters wouldn’t notice or care how they’re being treated? If we want them back on our side, then let’s go to them… and get back on their side!

Come On, Biden, Be A Real President!

President Biden recently flew off to Taiwan to assure allies there that he will fight for them. And next he’s headed over to Saudi Arabia to “repair ties” with those oil monarchs. This flurry of foreign travel might be strategically important for international realpolitik, but – Hello – another strategically important piece of real politics is looming right here at home: The November congressional elections! Taiwan and Saudi Arabia don’t get a vote, but Texas and South Carolina do. So how about spending a bit more time flying or even whistle stopping to such places, where many hard-hit working-class families would like to see President Joe fight for and repair ties with them. In fairness, much of Biden’s progressive agenda has been deliberately gummed up by such congressional blobs of do-nothingism as Mitch McConnell and Joe Manchin. But blaming them isn’t winning any points for him – nor does it help the families now struggling with baby formula shortages, $5 gasoline, a farm and factory depression, etc. Instead of blame or surrender, more of Harry Truman’s feisty, can-do spirit is called for – get out of the Beltway Bubble and go straight to the people with an urgent program of Big Actions that they want and need. To hell with placating McConnell and Manchin –you’re the president Joe, not them, and you’re not powerless. For example, Rep. Ro Khanna points out that you should use the government’s emergency authority to do “preemptive buying” on the open market to stop runaway food and fuel prices. The authority to do this is already on the books, so no need to kiss McConnell’s butt – just take direct presidential action for ordinary Americans. This is the difference between giving speeches telling voters you’re on their side… and actually being there, so they can see it for themselves. It’s honest politics.

Enthroning Corporate Power Over America

“Equal Justice Under Law.” That’s the noble principle carved into the marble façade of the temple-like Supreme Court building. Today, though, six right-wing, corporate-dominated activist judges control the present Court, and they’re implementing an elitist creed mocking that ideal. By putting the interests and power of the wealthy over the rest of us. They’re turning “justice” into an antidemocratic concept of “just us.” In ruling after ruling, today’s supremes are political operatives taking power from the many to further-empower and enrich the few. One huge change occurred in 2010, when the five Republican judges decreed that corporations be given a Constitutional right to spend unlimited sums of their cash to dominate our elections – and to pack our courts with judges who serve them. Sure enough, a majority of Supremes are now in harness to the corporate agenda. Consider their constant push to rig the rules against workers. While the federal judiciary has aided corporate bosses for decades by chipping away at hard-won legal protections for working families, the chisel has become a jackhammer in the last few years. The Supreme Court’s Republican majority routinely pounds precedents, logic, truth, and the Constitution itself to demolish the structural pillars of labor rights and organizing. In a 2018 case, for example, the GOP judges undermined the funding of unions by arbitrarily striking down their process for collecting dues–a practice the court itself had authorized 41 years earlier. As Justice Elena Kagan bluntly put it in her dissenting opinion, there was no reason for the court to barge into this matter of long-settled law … except that the Republican majority simply didn’t like the previous decision and overruled it “because it wanted to.” This is not justice, it’s raw politics – yet another open-and-shut case of black-robed partisans supplanting America’s hallowed rule of law with their own anti-labor whim.

Looking for older commentaries?

You’ll find them over on the Hightower Lowdown now, in the radio archives. Note: we post new episodes there on Tuesdays and Thursdays; however, some radio stations around the country air Hightower’s commentaries on their own schedule.


 


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Meet Jim Hightower.

Looking for photos and more of Hightower? Check out the media kit.

National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and New York Times best-selling author, Jim Hightower has spent four decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be – consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks.

Twice elected Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Hightower believes that the true political spectrum is not right to left but top to bottom, and he has become a leading national voice for the 80 percent of the public who no longer find themselves within shouting distance of the Washington and Wall Street powers at the top.

Hightower is a modern-day Johnny Appleseed, spreading the message of progressive populism all across the American grassroots.

He broadcasts daily radio commentaries that are carried in more than 150 commercial and public stations, on the web, and on Radio for Peace International.

Every month he pens a rousing newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown, that blasts through the corporate media blockade to lend new reporting and populist perspective on the events of the day.

A popular public speaker who is fiery and funny, he is a populist road warrior who delivers more than 100 speeches a year to all kinds of groups.

He is a New York Times best-selling author, and has written seven books including, Thieves In High Places: They’ve Stolen Our Country And It’s Time To Take It Back; If the Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates; and There’s Nothing In the Middle Of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos. His newspaper column is distributed nationally by Creators Syndicate.

Hightower frequently appears on television and radio programs, bringing a hard-hitting populist viewpoint that rarely gets into the mass media. In addition, he works closely with the alternative media, and in all of his work he keeps his ever-ready Texas humor up front, practicing the credo of an old Yugoslavian proverb: “You can fight the gods and still have fun.”

Hightower was raised in Denison, Texas, in a family of small business people, tenant farmers, and working folks. A graduate of the University of North Texas, he worked in Washington as legislative aide to Sen. Ralph Yarborough of Texas; he then co-founded the Agribusiness Accountability Project, a public interest project that focused on corporate power in the food economy; and he was national coordinator of the 1976 “Fred Harris for President” campaign. Hightower then returned to his home state, where he became editor of the feisty biweekly, The Texas Observer. He served as director of the Texas Consumer Association before running for statewide office and being elected to two terms as Texas Agriculture Commissioner (1983-1991).

During the 90’s, Hightower became known as “America’s most popular populist,” developing his radio commentaries, hosting two radio talk shows, writing books, launching his newsletter, giving fiery speeches coast to coast, and otherwise speaking out for the American majority that’s being locked out economically and politically by the elites.

As political columnist Molly Ivins said, “If Will Rogers and Mother Jones had a baby, Jim Hightower would be that rambunctious child — mad as hell, with a sense of humor.”

    You can leave a message using the contact form below. For immediate media inquiries and needs, please call Laura Ehrlich at 512-477-5588, ext. 1.

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    Books

    Swim Against the Current (2008)

    Swim Against the CurrentThe New York Times bestselling author and America’s funniest activist gives the lowdown on how to put up-not shut up-in the fight for our future.

    Hightower, the country’s #1 populist, has picked up some useful advice over the years, from “never eat at a café featuring ‘bargain kebobs'” to “never hit a man with glasses; hit him with something much heavier.” As he and his longtime co-conspirator Susan DeMarco have rambled through grassroots America, however, they’ve also come up with more serious words of wisdom to share here, namely: question authority, trust your values, seek alternatives, break away, stand up for your beliefs, and swim against the current!

    Their book introduces readers to people across the country who have actually done this-people in business, politics, health care, farming, religion, and other areas who are taking charge, living their values, doing good, and doing well. Hightower and DeMarco show how they are doing precisely what the elites want us to believe can’t be done: changing their lives and making a difference. He tells the stories of these people and offers inspiration and information that will help readers tap into their own maverick potential in order to navigate a different, more satisfying course of their own.

    Whether they are young and just starting out or older and searching for a different path, the commonsense folks in this book have escaped the corporate tentacles to find their own way toward a richer life and a better American future. They are creating a new, deeply democratic model for the country, edging it back onto the long road toward egalitarianism and the common good.

    Hightower and DeMarco are at their contrarian, sharp-witted, and straight-shooting best as they celebrate the triumph of grassroots gumption over the tight-fisted grip of corporate control.

    Thieves in High Places (2004)

    Thieves in High PlacesAmerica is at an historic divide between rulers and rulees and the rulees are restless. Hightower’s THIEVES IN HIGH PLACES is an epistle to the American people about vision and choices, and it’s a clarion call to action. The question Jim Hightower is asking is: What kind of country do you want America to be? Not only for you, but for your children and theirs? In THIEVES IN HIGH PLACES Hightower takes on the Bushites, the Wobblycrats, and the corporate Kleptocrats, digging up behind-the scenes dirt that the corporate media overlooks like BushCo’s “Friday Night Massacres”, what’s happened to our food, and the Bush plan for empire. Also drawing on Hightower’s Rolling Thunder Down-Home Democracy Tour, Hightower has tapped into the thriving activist networks that are our country’s grassroots muscle, and his book tells their uplifting stories of retaking control of their communities.

    Let's Stop Beating Around The Bush (2004)
    Let's Stop Beating Around The BushThe bestselling grassroots guru is back with his incisive take on the state of the union and life today in the good ol’ U.S.A.

    America in 2004 is color coded — and it’s not just a matter of red, white, and blue. The terror alert bounces from yellow to orange. The economy offers up a hundred shades of red ink. The environment is turning brown. National security is cloaked in gray shadows. And, as he did in the bestselling Thieves in High Places, Jim Hightower covers it all with uncommon insight, political fearlessness, and laugh-out-loud humor.

    America’s #1 populist gives us Let’s Stop Beating Around the Bush — a hard-hitting, fact-filled review of the real state of the union that you won’t get from the establishment media. With his daily radio commentaries and award-winning monthly newsletter, no one has chronicled the madness of King George the W, the wimpiness of corporate Democrats, and the aggressive avarice of Wall Street with the thoroughness and tenacity of Hightower. Now he brings that investigative punch into this wild and woolly hook of fiery essays.

    With his satirical “Six Perfectly Good Reasons to Re-elect George W. Bush”; his mix of damning indictments and uplifting stories; and side bars, cartoons, games, and puzzles, Hightower has clone the impossible: he has created a subversive read that makes politics fun again.

    The People Are Revolting! (In The Very Best Sense Of That Word) (2003)

    The People Are Revolting! (In The Very Best Sense Of That Word)

    With his aw-shucks charisma and no-nonsense attitude, he dishes out what’s wrong with the eroding integrity of our democracy: politicians for sale to the highest bidder, the economic boom of the 90s not trickling down to the regular folks and more corporate scandals than you can shake a stick at. Offers a compelling collection of Hightower talks plus the best of his daily “Common-Sense Commentaries” on radio, all with an introduction by the late Senator Paul Wellstone.

    • Buy from Indiebound — support independent booksellers
    • Buy from Powells.com — independent, too!
    • Digital versions: Android, Apple and MP3/CD
    If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates (2000)

    If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote They Would Have Given Us CandidatesJim Hightower, America’s favorite subversive, is still mad as hell, and he’s not going to take it anymore. But he will give you a sizeable piece of his mind on Election 2000. This plain-talking, name-naming, podium-pounding populist zeros in on everything that ails us, from the global economy and media to big business and election winners everywhere. In his hard hitting commentary and hilarious anecdotes, Hightower spares no one, including the scared cows — and especially the politicians — who helped steer us into this mess in the first place. An equal opportunity muckrucker and a conscientious agitator for “We the People”, Hightower inspires us to take charge again, build a new politics for a better tommorow — and have a lot of laughs along the way.

    There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos (1998)
    There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead ArmadillosRevised, and with a New Introduction by the Author

    “I am an agitator, and an agitator is the center post in a washing machine that gets the dirt out.”
    –Jim Hightower

    Hightower is mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore! He’s also funny as hell, and in this book he focuses his sharp Texas wit, populist passion, and native smarts on America’s political, economic, scientific, and media establishments. In There’s Nothing in the Middle of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos, Hightower shows not only what’s wrong, but also how to fix it, offering specific solutions and calling for a new political movement of working families and the poor to “take America back from the bankers and bosses, the big shots and bastards.”

    “If you don’t read another book about what’s wrong with this country for the rest of your life, read this one. I think it’s the best and most important book about out public life I’ve read in years.”
    –Molly Ivins, author of Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She?“When do we get to vote for Jim Hightower for president? Will somebody please tell me? When do we get to vote for Jim Hightower for president?.”
    –Michael Moore, author of Downsize This!

    “Listen to Jim Hightower. His is a two-fisted, rambunctious voice unafraid to speak truth to power, eloquently and clearly…He’s one of the best.”
    –Studs Terkel