Monday, July 21, 2008

My mentor endorses: Jim Hightower for Obama

From February 14th, 2008

Photo by Matthew Bradley of Flickr.

The Nation is reporting that former Agriculture Commissioner for the state of Texas and populist hero Jim Hightower will endorse and campaign for Barack Obama. I have to keep this quick because I've got other things going on but this is very meaningful to me because Jim Hightower was the first political columnist I read. The first bits of political knowledge I learned were from Jim Hightower. Keep reading for my little story.

As some of you know I'm just a kid, 14 years old. So how did I get into politics? In part because of Jim Hightower. I grew up across the street from a food co-op. That co-op is my community. I know everyone there because that was my neighborhood and I still go there every week or so to shop for good local food. When you walk in their is a shelf with local newspapers. One of them used to be the Pulse of the Twin Cites, a weekly progressive paper published by peace activists. That paper ran Jim Hightower's column.

Sometime, maybe 2005, I started picking up the Pulse. Soon I grew addicted and would pour over it each week and I'd skip right to the Hightower Lowdown before anything else. It was just a small part of the paper in the upper right corner a few pages in but every week there was Jim's face and his sharp commentary. Here is one of my favorites. "Kathrine Harris Speaks."

The first things about politics and the way things are came from Jim. My user name is Populista, Italian for populist because of Jim and one of the heroes Jim talked about, a guy name Paul Wellstone.

So there is my story. Now quickly what Hightower is going to do for Obama:

One of the great moments in American politics came when Hightower, wearing his cowboy hat and spouting the old-school economic populist gospel, joined the Rev. Jesse Jackson's "Rainbow Coalition" campaign of 1988. Their campaign events in Texas were epic celebrations of what a politics that saw beyond lines of race and ethnicity to the fundamental issue of class might look like.

For a time in March of 1988, that politics seemed possible. Jackson ran a strong second to Al Gore in the Texas primary and then won the Texas local conventions that selected delegates. Hightower was in the thick of that historic moment.

In March of 2008, Hightower will be in the thick of it again.

The Austin-based populist will be campaigning in Texas for Barack Obama. And it will mean something, since Hightower has not forgotten what he learned about the political landscape by winning two statewide elections in the 1980s and serving as an essential player on more than a few campaigns since then.

Hightower also spoke to the responsibility that WE have.

Ultimately, says Hightower, part of the responsibility for making Obama stronger on specific issues lies with progressives who back the Illinois senator.

"The thing that really matters about the Obama campaign is the 'change' message," says the Texan. "This has more staying power."

"That makes it incumbent upon progressives – and this new force that is emerging is a progressive force – to make demands," adds Hightower. "Franklin Roosevelt did not campaign on the New Deal. The people that elected him made Roosevelt give them a New Deal."

The people who elect Obama, says Hightower, can assure that Obama's 'change' message translates as "progressive change."

And one of the people electing Obama -- or, at the very least, doing his damnedest to carry Texas for senator -- will be Jim Hightower.

So let's get active. First of all, call people! Also on Sunday I wrote a diary about 5 easy ways to get active. Check it out. Also one more thing. My fellow blogger snout launched the Obama Action Network today, it is a group for all Obama supporters who are taking action. It will be a great resource to help you take action and have fun while you're doing it. Action, fun and transformation. Does it get better?

And always remember one thing: Donate!

Let's get active my friends. Tag, you're it!

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