Who's In Charge Here?

Readers will laugh at the choice one-liners in Jim Hightower's latest book, If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates, but the author hopes readers will be angry enough to do something about the deplorable state of American politics rather than merely laughing through their pain.

The former agriculture commissioner of Texas and author of There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos, Hightower has developed something of a cult following through his nationally syndicated "Chat and Chew" radio program. Instead of passively accepting the choices our nominal two-party system has offered for president, Hightower insists that the national election should be a kitchen-table consultation with the "real-world majority," the 80 percent of Americans who earn less than $50,000 a year. This conversation, the author believes, would create an agenda based on the values of economic fairness, social justice, and equal opportunity as opposed to the agenda of the corporate elite, who, Hightower believes, control both parties and have already bought the 2000 election.

This "corporatocracy," as he refers to it, is in his view the greatest current threat to our democracy. If you want to know the nature of contemporary political campaigns, follow the money trail, but as Hightower notes most Americans don't send money down that path. Ninety-six percent don't contribute to political campaigns and less than one-half of 1 percent contribute more than $1,000, which makes 99 percent irrelevant to the process.

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Sojourners Magazine July-August 2000
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