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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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The following is a transcript of Bill Moyers' interview with Jim Hightower from the final broadcast of Bill Moyers Journal. It has been edited for length.

BILL MOYERS: Once upon a time, a whole lot of just plain Americans woke up to realize the economic system was working against them. They had believed in it; they worked hard to make it work for them. They knew its shortcomings but saw in it the way to a decent return for their labor and a better future for their families.

Then, one day, calamity struck: The system turned on them. And they discovered that they had been betrayed, bamboozled, by the people at the top.

But they didn't hang their heads and turn tail, like a dog whipped by its master. They organized and fought back — millions of them in a grass roots movement for democracy. What they did became known as the Populist Moment, an extraordinary time in our country's history.

But, the flimflam gang returned with a vengeance in our time — the monied interests and political mercenaries who connived to bring on a calamity that lost eleven million Americans their jobs, robbed people of their homes and pensions, and brought the world's economy crashing down.

But once again, people are organizing and fighting back; as they did in that early Populist Moment that took on the monopolies and financial trusts. The stirrings of a popular insurgency could be seen late this week as thousands marched on Wall Street. These people are angry at the banks that have cost them so dearly and they want reforms to prevent similar disasters in the future. They want to break up the Wall Street oligarchy and require the banks to use their capital to build and revitalize and innovate, to create jobs and security.

Similar protests occurred this week in San Francisco, North Carolina and Kansas City, where people rallied to demand an accounting from the giant Bank of America.

Among their ranks was a contingent from Iowa, proud and vocal inheritors of America's populist spirit. We first met them at a rally last fall.

BILL MOYERS: In October, some five thousand people came to Chicago to rally outside the convention of the American Bankers Association.

CROWD: ABA, you're the worst! Time to put the people first!

BILL MOYERS: This is not the Tea Party crowd, chanting against "government takeovers" and "creeping socialism."

CROWD: We're fired up! Can't take it no more!

BILL MOYERS: They are populists of the old school. They want the government on their side battling against predatory monopolies, trusts, and corporations.

MIKE MCCARTHY: We're losing jobs. We're losing state employees. We're losing industry and businesses. We're losing farms and homes. And meanwhile, these people across the street are trying to divvy up their record profits, in tens of millions of dollars worth of bonuses. And that's not fair, it's not fair. ...

BILL MOYERS: Mike McCarthy and a busload of his Iowa neighbors rode almost six hours to get here. ... They belong to an organization called Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. Or CCI. They take their fighting spirit, everywhere they go.

LARRY GINTER: If you've seen your pensions or retirement take a hit, stand up. Dissent is apple pie and ice cream. If you think it's time to put people first and hold banks accountable, stand up. Our founding fathers spoke out against the injustice. I mean, they were great populist, great radicals. ... You just can't sit back and let the big boys walk all over you. You have to stand up and fight. Give yourselves a hand!

 
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