If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates

If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates

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by Jim Hightower

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If anything, in this presidential election special, he's madder than ever!

In his earlier bestseller, There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos, Hightower only began to tap into the deep yearning that Americans have for a new politics that speaks to them from a real-world, kitchen-table perspective. Now, with the year

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If anything, in this presidential election special, he's madder than ever!

In his earlier bestseller, There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos, Hightower only began to tap into the deep yearning that Americans have for a new politics that speaks to them from a real-world, kitchen-table perspective. Now, with the year 2000 being an especially significant marker for contemplating our country's direction, not only for the new year but for the new century and the new millennium, it's time for citizens to reclaim their political, economic, and cultural heritage.

Leading the way with his hilariously irreverent yet profoundly serious book is our name-naming, podium-pounding, point-them-in-the-right-direction populist, Hightower himself. He whacks conventional wisdom right upside the head,showing,with startling facts and compelling personal stories, that despite a so-called period of prosperity, America's middle class is getting mugged, and that far from being ordained by the gods,globalization is globaloney! Hightower rips the mass off of the candidates, the parties, the consultants, and especially the moneyed powers whoa re supporting all of the leading presidential hopefuls. he's mad about them all--but what he's maddest about, what really gets his goat,is that they are all the same! To paraphrase Jim, American politicians are alike because they don't come cheap. In fact, they're all very expansive. which is why only the rich can own them and why their allegiance is definitely not to regular,worka-day citizens.

No one is spared in this insightful and engaging blend of horror and success stories, hard-hitting commentary, laugh-out-loud humor, useful facts, and sparkling language. An equal opportunity muckraker and conscientious agitator for "We the people," Hightower inspires us to take charge again, to build a new politics, and, together, to build a better tomorrow. Jim Hightower's If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates proves yet again that his is a uniquely wise and peerlessly singular voice in the maelstrom of political prattle.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
With a disarmingly folksy charm, writer and former Texas agriculture commissioner Hightower skewers George W. Bush, Al Gore, America's moneyed interests, the presidential selection process, corporate greed, the corruption of the political process by big money, the wage gap, globalization, and a whole lot more. Part critique of the corruption of American life and politics, part Populist manifesto, this sometimes witty, often irreverent, on-target book offers readers a welcome respite from the more mundane, mainstream accounts of contemporary politics. Outspokenness of this sort can seem harsh, angry, and abrasive--and Hightower is indeed angry. But his is an anger fused with wit and insight that draws readers in instead of pushing them away. This valuable contribution will offend, entertain, and enlighten. For public and academic libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/99.]--Michael A. Genovese, Loyola Marymount Univ., Los Angeles Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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It's a little-known fact that neck cricks are a common occupational hazard among your politicking class-right up there sprains, smile cramps, and cologne burn. Politicians suffer neck cricks because, as incongruous as it seems, American politics is damn near eaten up with prayer, so their heads are always bobbing down and up, down and up.

Even Congress begins its daily sessions with a pious bowing of every corrupt head in the chamber-this is not something you'll find normal prostitutes doing. On the campaign trail, too, every public event, whether Democratic or Republican, is kicked off by hauling some minister, rabbi, priest, or whatever to the podium, from whence the cleric beseeches the Almighty to side with the assembled partisans in their righteous cause and smite the infidels of the other party. As one who often speaks at political events-and, I confess, as one who once was a practicing politician myself (you didn't get a virgin here)--I've heard hundreds of these prayerful entreaties. Most are predictable, but every now and then you get a prayer that makes a statement.

My favorite came at a bipartisan meet-the-candidates breakfast in 1990. The head table was stocked with twenty or so buffed-and-grinning aspirants for state legislator, county constable, hide inspector, and whatnot. The collective IQof the whole bunch wouldn't have outgunned a passel of possums, and none of the candidates had sparked even a flicker of interest, much less enthusiasm, among the yawning public. Nonetheless, about a hundred of their political diehards and kin were in attendance, enjoying the grits and gravy, if not the lackluster campaign.

At 7:30 on the dot, the preacher was called forth. He was a big and imposing man who possessed particularly powerful pipes. He gripped the lectern as the crowd instinctively hushed and bowed. Before uttering a word, the preacher looked deliberately down the line of candidates to his right, then turned and gazed upon those to his left, after which he closed his eyes unusually tight, not so much in prayer, but as though he hoped to block out the sight he'd just taken in. Lifting his face to the heavens, he thrust his arms wide and cried in a booming voice that clearly was seeking deliverance: "Oh, God!" As his plea rumbled across the room, he softly said, "Amen"-and sat down.

As we cast our eyes on today's political process and prospects, most Americans would say to the preacher, "My sentiments exactly." Ask people anywhere in the country what they think about their choices in the forthcoming millennial presidential election and they'll roll their eyes and say, "Oh, God." What about the system itself, with both parties butt deep in the muck and mire of corrupt campaign funds: "Oh, God," they moan, shaking their head. How about your own Congress critter-does he or she represent you? "Oh, God no!" Would you want your kid getting involved in politics?

"OH, GOD!!"

What a shame that our nation's politics is so corrupted and worthless these days that our two-party leadership is such an embarrassment, for America really could have used an honest pulse-taking before plunging blindly into the relentlessly ballyhooed "Third Millennium." All hoopla aside, the turning of a century, much less a millennium, is a significant marker, an attention-focusing opportunity to have a thorough public coversation--maybe even a bit of national contemplation--about our people's progress and our national direction. I realize I'm teetering on the brink of squishy idealism here, but golly Pollyanna, if our political system was not totally fucked, this 2000 election could have been a time when the parties, the candidates, and the media all came out to us plebeians, actually listening to the reality of regular people's situations, debating a plethora of unconventional (i.e., noncorporate) ideas, and generally conducting a kind of two-year, coast-to-coast political Chautauqua--not quite a plebiscite, but at least a "whaddaya think" consultation on charting America's twenty-first century course.

There's plenty to discuss. For starters, enough already with the official pretension that ours is one big fat-and-happy populace whose only real problem in today's "great economy" is deciding whether to stick with the Ford Explorer or move up to the newer and bigger Excursion. Reality check: Sticker price on that Excursion tops $50,000--more than the yearly income of eight out of ten American families. This real-world majority is fortunate if they can afford a used Escort, for the same 80 percent of the people have seen their incomes go flat or go down during the past decade, even as they have been ceaselessly bombarded with assertions that America is wallowing in luxury. For these families, middle-class opportunities are being shut off, and their political voice has been cut off--in both cases by an ascendant corporate/investor elite that now rules supreme, essentially owning the economy, the government, the media ... and sadly, the 2000 elections. So, we'll not get the kitchen-table consultation America needs and deserves, nor will the Powers That Be so much as get their feathers ruffled with any bothersome talk by either of the two parties about returning to the gut-level values that working people hold dear: economic fairness, social justice, and equal opportunity for all. Instead, 2000 will be like '98, '96, '94, and '92--another money-soaked, corporate-driven, issue-avoiding, made-for-television snoozer, completely unconnected to real life.

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