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Jim Hightower
Jim Hightower
10 Feb 2016
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Enter, Real Populists


Few people today call themselves populists, but I think most are. I'm not talking about the recent political outbursts by confused, used and abused tea-bag ranters who've been organized by corporate front groups to spread a hatred of government.

Rather, I mean the millions of ordinary Americans in every state who're battling the real power that's running roughshod over us: out-of-control corporations. With their oceans of money and their hired armies of lobbyists and lawyers, these self-serving, autocratic entities operate from faraway executives suites and Washington backrooms to rig the economic and governmental rules so that they can capture an ever-bigger share of America's money and power.

You can yell yourself red-faced at Congress critters you don't like and demand a government so small that it'd fit in the backroom of Billy Bob's Bait Shop and Sushi Stand, but you won't be touching the corporate and financial powers behind the throne. In fact, weak government is the political wet dream of corporate chieftains, which is why they're so ecstatic to have the tea party out front for them. But the real issue isn't small government, it's good government. (Can I get an amen from Gulf Coast fishing families on that!?)

It's necessary to restate the solid principles of populism and reassert its true spirit, because both are now being severely perverted by corporate manipulators and a careless media establishment. To these debasers of the language, any politicos or pundits who tap into any level of popular anger (toward Barack Obama, liberals, the IRS, poor people, unions, gays, immigrants, Hollywood, community organizers, environmentalists et al.) get a peel-off "populist" label slapped onto their lapels — even when their populist pose is funded by and operates as a front for one or another corporate interest. That's not populism, it's rank hucksterism — disguising plutocrats as champions of the people.

Now is the time for progressives to reassert their populist beliefs and bona fides, for we're living in a teachable moment in which it's possible to reach most Americans with an aggressive and positive approach to achieving a higher level of economic and political democracy.

There is a spreading and deepening recognition within today's broad middle class that they've been abandoned to a plutocracy that feels free to knock them down and leave them there. The distain that the power elites have for the rest of us is glaringly and gallingly apparent.

— Wall Street billionaires crash our economy but are bailed out at our expense to continue their banksterism against us.

— We're told to accept a "jobless recovery" and to sit still for a "new normal" of perpetually low wages, continuing losses of American jobs, and steady erosion of union and consumer power.

— We're presented with two flagrant examples of murderous corporate greed —first, at Massey Energy's deadly coal mine, then at BP's deadly offshore oil well — yet no corporate executive has even been arrested.

Do the Powers That Be (whether liberal or conservative) really imagine that the great majority of Americans don't see or don't care about this rank classism, this in-your-face stiffing of the middle class?

This is where populists come in. You wouldn't know it from the corporate media, but in just about every town or city in our land you can find some groups or coalitions that, instead of merely shouting at politicians, have come together to find their way around, over or through the blockages that big money has put in the way of their democratic aspirations. In the process of organizing, strategizing, and mobilizing, these groups are building relationships and community, creating something positive from a negative.

With the rebellious spirit and sense of hope that have defined America from the start, these populists are directly challenging the plutocratic order that reigns over us. This populism is unabashedly a class movement — one that seeks not merely to break the iron grip that centralized corporate power has on our country, but also to build cooperative democratic structures so that ordinary people, not moneyed interests, define and control our country's economic and political possibilities.

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at



8 Comments | Post Comment
When all of the corporations have left The united States and we have become an impoverished possesion of China, what country could you go to spew your venom in? The "tea-bag, tea-bagger" slander (libel?) that oozes from your putrid brain brands you as a tasteless bigot. If you get your way, soon, thereafter, you will be begging true patriots to feed and protect you from enslavement. I, still, feel sorry for you, but it's hard to maintain that sorrow in the wake of your anti-American drivel.
Comment: #1
Posted by: David Henricks
Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:30 AM
You are absolutley right that someone should go to jail. I am a recent resident of Kentucky, and what corporate interests have done to the beauty of this land is not only criminal, it is a sin again everything that should be holy to humans.The idea that my neighbors haven't sent the mining company that killed those miners to Supermax breaks my heart. Are human beings really disposable just because they are not rich? And those rig workers that BP killed to make more money for people who are already rich beyond belief, it is wrong and nothing any repulsive Republican apoligizer can say will alter that fact.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Aurora MacGregor
Fri Jun 25, 2010 10:20 AM
To honestly believe the demands of international corporations are more important - more American - than the voice of the electorate is an astounding accomplishment. Fortunately people are being shaken from their consumer trance and see the writing on the wall where the big screen television used to be. They are quickly realizing their forefathers did not escape the ruthlessness of royalty and dictators to see their families enslaved by the new and improved oligarchy version 2.0. Addiction, be it greed or chemical, has a way of destroying good people.
Comment: #3
Posted by: jwwbrennan
Mon Jun 28, 2010 9:22 AM
Comment #1 reveals a profound lack of knowledge of what multinational corporations are doing around the world. Mr. Hightower has not said we should kill all corporations (I own a corporation myself). He's just saying they need to be held accounbtable for their actions and to serve the public interest honestly, not subvert democracy with bribes to our leaders. Of course there is a role for corporations to play in our economic system, but they need to play by the same rules as the rest of us -- including facing capital punishment (ending the corporation) for murderous crimes.

Greed evolved in our psychology for a reason, but it was held in check for the whole of human history by tribal politics. Then civilization and the industrial revolution created the conditions for greed to grow like a tumor on humanity. If we don't find our tribal populist soul as Hightower suggests, the cancer will destroy us.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Tom Ness
Thu Jul 1, 2010 12:55 PM
Re: David Henricks
Your country is jover a cliff and this shill spouts all the retoric that got it there Shame
Comment: #5
Posted by: garry walsh
Sat Jul 3, 2010 10:48 AM
Re: David Henricks

There will ALWAYS be apologists for the demons that lurk amongst us. Do your best not to listen to them.
I was an early "Tea-partier", until it was corrupted by the party of same-ole, same-ole.
Ron Paul is/was right, and I support him, but the tea party today (Ron Paul has distanced himself from the movement that he helped create) is just another Rupublican front that wants to enlist people like you and I who have had it up to here with "politics-as-usual", but will do nothing for you and I in the end.
You do not need corporations for you to have a job. In fact, the corporations are leaving the U.S. to fend for itself while they use our laws against us to their advantage.
You are an intelligent human being who is quite capable of providing for you and your family.
This country has all of the resources it needs to supply the populace with everything we buy from foreign corporations, but that is not the way the game works best for them.
While you protect the corporations from contributing their fair share, in the name of capitalism, they are busy shipping your job overseas and raping the land on their way out, leaving us with nothing to rebuild from.
Being pro PEOPLE and demanding that corporations clean up their mess and play by the same rules you and I are held to is not anti-American, it is the utmost trait of a true patriot.
Comment: #6
Posted by: greenspider
Sun Jul 4, 2010 11:46 PM
Listed as one of the charges against King George by the founding fathers of the United States was "He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people." Apparently they didn't think that was compatible "with certain unalienable rights" which is as much as anything the reason for the existence of the country. What is needed is a "Peace of Independence" from all those who truly do us harm. Corporations are exacting a tax that has become unacceptable. Taking a nation's wealth and its ability to honor its own constitution may simply be treason but stealing hope from our children and their children is beyond the fray.
Comment: #7
Posted by: jwwbrennan
Mon Jul 5, 2010 8:43 AM
Re: comment #1
I've seen your bile spewing in other places too recently. Always ranting and calling names no matter who's writing you're commenting on, or what they have to say. And it's always the same name at the bottom. Are you 'off your meds', genuinely coo-coo, or just employed by someone who wants you to try to stir things up for some reason?
Comment: #8
Posted by: Rev. Dave
Tue Jul 6, 2010 9:22 AM
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