Bill Moyers, reflecting on the founding fathers and their fight against the tyranny of the British monarchy, dedicated his Fourth of July weekend episode of “Moyers and Company” to those organizing to fight against the tyranny of corporate greed in politics today.
“These champions of grassroots action are fighting for a rearrangement of power, not from the left or the right, but from the bottom up,” said Moyers, as he introduced guest Jim Hightower, a former legislative assistant in Washington DC and two-term agricultural commissioner of Texas.
Hightower, who fought for small farmers against agribusiness giants, discussed with Moyers the grassroots groups that are “challenging that robbery barony that we have dominating pretty much every aspect of our lives… politics, the economy, whether you get a job or not and whether that job comes with any pay, much less health care.”
One such group is the United Workers Congress, whose members come from “10 different very low income employee sectors,” said Hightower. “They’re farm workers; they’re nannies; they’re taxicab drivers; they’re day laborers, and they’re adjunct professors.” Almost all are “paid a poverty wage, no health benefits, [and have] no job security.”
This organization of people from so many different areas of the labor force suggests that more and more people are realizing they share common interests.
“Here are the highest educated poverty workers in America with the lowest educated poverty workers,” said Hightower. “[They’re] seeing that they’re in the same boat now. And that realization has a powerful political potential.”
Moyers discussed just how corporate influence and greed has infiltrated not just the GOP, but the Democratic party as well. He described the NewDEAL, an organization “led by Wall Street Democrats like Corey Booker of New Jersey. They’ve formed recently a group that can raise campaign cash secretly from anonymous donors,” said Moyers. “And so far, they’ve raised it from some of the same big corporations that are also contributing to Republicans: Wal-Mart, Pfizer, big pharma, Comcast, and others. Friendly corporate lobbyists help run this.”
Hightower blames such corporate involvement on people’s apathy towards politics in general. “That’s what happened in Texas,” he said. “The people didn’t turn right wing; they quit voting because the Democrats quit being Democrats. If [The Democrats] take that check, [they’re] not going to be … rallying the troops and going at the bastards and the big shots and the BS’ers.”
To combat this disturbing trend of corporate donors dictating politics rather than the American people, Hightower said it’s time for people to rebel. But rather than arms, “take up yourself and get on the front lines, get in the face of power,” he said. “That power will have guns, and will have clubs and dogs, and they will unleash that on us. But we’ve got to be brave enough to do that.”
“People are ready for that kind of politics,” finished Hightower. “And if they see it beginning to work somewhere, then they take greater heart and they make a bigger effort, and other people will join with them. That’s, to me, how you build a movement.”
Watch the full episode of “Moyers and Company” below.
Amy is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. You can follow her on Twitter @AEddings31.