My post-election message: What progressives won this year
A jittery week at the polls, huh? One measure of our political anxiety is that liquor sales spiked this week. Also, it’s probably not a coincidence that a new breakthrough in drug legalization was made on Tuesday, when 56 percent of Oregon voters said YES! to sanctioning the use of “magic mushrooms,” which are said to relieve anxiety and depression.
Political pundits have rushed out to say (even gloat) that Tuesday was a debacle for Democrats, especially for the progressive movement – and we certainly did not match our extraordinarily high expectations. But hold the mushrooms.
Jim Hightower’s Radio Lowdown
What does your toothbrush, a fish dinner, and your running shoes have in common?
Plastic. We now live on Planet Plastic, billions of tons of waste from everyday products made of these chemical contaminants are strewn literally everywhere – on the highest mountaintops, into the deepest seabeds, in dense tropical jungles and all across barren deserts. It’s estimated, for example, that in less than 30 years, the gross volume of discarded plastic in our oceans will outnumber fish! From grocery carry-out bags to shower curtains to almost invisible bits of microplastics, the vast tonnage of this trash increases every minute, with an afterlife lasting centuries, wreaking havoc on ecosystems, destroying species, and infusing our water, air, soil, food… and us. Consider just two common products – your toothbrush and your sneakers.
Until the 1930s, toothbrushes were made of degradable, natural components. Since then, though, practically all have been throwaway plastic brushes. But there is no “away,” so nearly all of the trillions of brushes we’ve discarded in the past century are still out there somewhere on the land or in our water.
Moving from your teeth to your feet, consider that millions of sneakers are sold in the US each year, advertised as being athletic and “cool.” What’s uncool is that they’re made almost entirely of melded and molded plastics that are practically impossible to recycle. So, after a short time in our closets, sneakers spend an eternity as globs of toxic plastic trash.
We’re being choked by our own synthetic waste – from billions of plastic bottles and cigarette filters to tons of straws and synthetic rubber tires. As the wise old saying puts it, if you find that you’ve dug yourself into a hole, the first thing to do is to quit digging. To help stop the insanity, contact the group, Beyond Plastics.
You can’t poke into any issue in Congress without stumbling over sacks full of corporate campaign donations – and the recent eruption of pro-Trump mob violence inside the US Capitol exposed boodles of that special interest cash to public view.
Much to the embarrassment of major Wall Street banks, Silicon Valley tech giants, and CEOs of brand-name corporations, hundreds of thousands of their political dollars were traced to the mayhem in our Capitol. Specifically, their money was going into the coffers of 147 Republican lawmakers who backed the fraudulent Trumpster attempt to overthrow last fall’s presidential election. Acknowledging the damage these revelations did to their public image, the corporate interests responded forcefully. How? They issued press releases condemning violence. Wow… that’ll make things better!
Okay, in fairness, quite a few firms added a bit of bite to their bark by suggesting that maybe they wouldn’t be so cavalier about tossing out political contributions in the future. Citigroup, JPMorgan, and Goldman Sachs announced they would “pause” donations to all candidates; Blue Cross Blue Shield, Marriott, and Dow said they were “suspending” donations to the 147 congress critters who voted to reject the people’s choice; and Delta, Fed Ex, and Walmart declared they were “monitoring” the situation.
Notice the profusion of wiggle words in these professions of corporate principle. The executives are really not biting the system, but merely gumming it for a while… then, once public attention has drifted, the corporate-congressional complex will be back to business as usual. After all, while they deplore Trump’s racism, sexism, xenophobia, and overall immorality, they’ve gleefully taken it all to the bank, rationalizing, legitimizing – and profiting from – his corrupt presidency.
It’s not armed rioters from outside the system who are the main threat to our democracy, but the insiders who keep manipulating the system to take more money and power at our expense.
The ransacking and terrorizing of Congress by violent Trumpeteers is an outrage, right? Even Republican congressional leaders have rushed to assail the mob invasion, calling it a desecration of America’s democratic ideals. For example, the GOP’s Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, denounced the invading outsiders as “thugs,” lecturing that self-government “requires a shared commitment to truth and shared respect for the ground rules of our system.”
But wait… what about the insider mob – the lawmakers who routinely run roughshod over our ideals of equality and justice? So many of the pious members who are now so prissily crying out for decorum and respect for the process openly solicit special interest cash to do favors for the donors, while ignoring the basic needs of workaday people they supposedly represent.
Excuse me, Mitch, but for the past four years weren’t you Trump’s most destructive Machiavellian monkey-wrencher in Congress? Yes, you were, relentlessly stomping on truth and rigging legislative ground rules to ram his plutocratic, autocratic agenda into law. You even stoked his depraved narcissism – for weeks after it was clear that Joe Biden had won the presidency, you cynically fed Trump’s fantasy that he had won, helping spread a furious disunity across America. The mob that you deplore for rampaging into your inner sanctum of power and privilege is of your own making – they’re your angry political chickens coming home to roost.
It’s a scream (and a disgrace) to see not only McConnell but also self-aggrandizing icks like Ted Cruz now posing as righteous statesmen. Cruz unctuously proclaimed: “We must come together and put this anger and division behind us.”
Yes, legal authorities should investigate and prosecute the orchestrators and perpetrators of the mob violence, but let’s also shine the light of justice on the mob of insider elites who so selfishly continue desecrating American democracy.
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Meet Jim Hightower.
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.”