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.