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Bill Moyers TV Farewell with Hightower -- The Fight of Our Lives: The Populist Battle with Corporate Power

"We need a lot more agitation. [T]hat's the only thing that succeeds from a progressive side in changing politics in America."

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BILL MOYERS: Larry Ginter still lives on the Iowa farm where he was born. He spent two years in the army, and more than fifty on the prairie scratching out a living from the land.

LARRY GINTER: I seen a lot of heartache out here on the farms family farmers not getting the fair prices. And then you see workers not getting a fair wage. And things like this always got to me. I always felt I had to get involved in that. There's a saying, "Revolution begins in a peasant hut." You got to fight for the justice. You got to fight for the fair wage. You got to fight for housing. You got to fight for healthcare. Fight for the elderly, fight for family farmers and workers. Fight for the environment. And that's what Iowa CCI does.

BILL MOYERS: For more than thirty years, they have marched their Midwest brand of outrage through city streets, rural towns, and bank lobbies. ... I don't know anyone who embodies that old-time, populist gospel, the high spirits and fierce commitment to justice that you just witnessed among the good people of Iowa more than my longtime friend, Jim Hightower.

With a down home wit and a finely honed outrage, Hightower pins the tail on the plutocrats.

A recovering politician, one time commissioner of agriculture in Texas, he now broadcasts daily radio commentaries and publishes this indispensable monthly newsletter, "The Hightower Lowdown." I admire the journalism in "The Lowdown" so much I helped raise money to raise its profile some years ago. In the spirit of fair trade, Jim has allowed me to borrow some of his best lines, including that rousing populist cry from deep in our native East Texas, "the water won't clear up until we get the hogs out of the creek."

He's been at it so long that this weekend, Jim is being honored at Texas State University in San Marcos with an exhibition celebrating his life's work as a populist journalist, historian and advocate.

They're calling the event "Swim Against the Current" because that's what he does, and in fact, that's the title of his most recent book. ... What do you think about those people from Iowa?

JIM HIGHTOWER: Well, the thing that struck me most is, it's a coalition of farmers, of environmentalists, workers, young people, old people, working for the community. And it's not just about me, me, me all the time. They're exactly in the tradition of people who, you know, are mad as hell but do something about it. You know, it's one thing to be mad. But it's another thing to get organized, and find your way around it. You know, my mama told me that two wrongs don't make a right, but three left turns do.

And that's what we have to do. We have to figure a way around these blockages of Wall Street today. Of the corporate interests that are squeezing out small business. Of the blockages in the marketplaces. The drug companies, for example, that are gouging consumers. Have to figure out a way around that. It's not enough to whine. Even in the media.

You know? Because the populists faced that same thing of the media of the day, being primarily newspapers and magazines. Wouldn't cover this populist movement. In fact, when I worked for Ralph Yarborough, years ago, a Senator from Texas, "The Dallas Morning News" just ignored the progressives of that day. And Yarborough could have a meeting in Dallas and there'd be 5,000 people there. And not a word in "The Dallas Morning News." So, we had a new name, a new subtitle for the Dallas News. If it happens in Dallas it's news to us.

 
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