Jim Hightower may have abandoned politics after two terms as Texas' agriculture commissioner, but that doesn't mean he abandoned hope. Instead, he gave up his political career for one in populist commentary. Though the political outlook for average Americans looks grim, the straight-talking Texan and best-selling author (If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote, They Would Have Given Us Candidates) sees a silver lining in the ominous thunderheads that have gathered around Washington.
Q: What's the subject of your speech when you come down to FAU next Thursday?
A: I'm gonna be talking about the need for we the people to rise up and take our country back from what I call "thieves in high places" that have stolen our country. I believe we're in another of those "when in the course of human events" moments that Jefferson wrote about in the Declaration. In this case, it's global corporate power that has usurped our people's authority. They've done it through campaign contributions to buy our government out from under us. They've done it through creation of these outfits like NAFTA, the World Trade Organization, and the new Free Trade Area of the Americas, which literally allow corporations to overturn our local, state, and national laws... We the people are not in charge anymore, and most people realize that.
Q: You mentioned Thomas Jefferson. Given a lot of his statements about revolution, if he were around today, he'd already be in the streets with guns, right?
A: Oh, yeah. Exactly. He said, God forbid we go more than 20 years without a rebellion, and we've been longer than that. The moneyed powers concentrate money and power to themselves, and it doesn't change unless we change it... We can't depend on someone running for president to take care of our business for us; we've got to do it ourselves. We've just seen an example of it with the passage of this shameful tax-cut program that Bush pushed through. People know they're not going to get a dime out of this silly game-playing, but those people don't have a party that is standing up for them.
Q: Do you really consider Bush to be the leader of his own administration?
A: We know Bush doesn't have the brain muscle to do any heavy lifting, but that's not why those corporate interests put $113 million in his presidential campaign in 2000.
Q: Mussolini said fascism was the merging of corporate and governmental power. Is that where you see us heading?
A: Well, we pretty well have it. You get to vote sometimes, but it doesn't always count, as y'all learned in Florida. If a member of Congress or the president is faced with a choice between you or a major corporate contributor, who's gonna win? -- Dan Sweeney