The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

As Henrik Ibsen said: “You should never wear your best trousers when you go out to fight for freedom and truth.”

Democracy is never given to us, but has to be won through constant struggle against the elites who keep scheming to siphon ever more of society’s money and power into their own hands. A Woody Guthrie song about outlaws tells this story in one stanza: “As through this world I’ve wandered / I’ve seen lots of funny men / Some will rob you with a six-gun / And some with a fountain pen.”

American democracy is the gritty story of workaday folks who get fed up with the fountain pens, get organized, and get moving to stop the thievery. Indeed, not only does such gutsy grassroots confrontation work; it is the only thing that really succeeds in reclaiming, maintaining, and advancing our democratic values.

To see an uplifting example of organized people power in action, look to the heartland, where a coalition called Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement has had its democracy-building work clothes on since 1975, uniting and empowering people of all ethnic backgrounds to push back against the avarice and arrogance of big-money corporations. With more than 3,000 dues-paying, activist members, CCI is organized in every county in Iowa. They’ve rallied thousands of other Iowans to join their local and statewide actions, including winning battles against factory-farm manure polluters, corporate wage thieves that prey on low-wage workers, payday lenders that trap poor people in cycles of debt with 300 percent interest rates, gas, and electric companies that gouge customers and banking interests that were either foreclosing on or refusing to lend to good farmers.

In the process, CCI has become a national model of direct, non-partisan civic action to re-establish some measure of America’s highest moral ideals: (1) government of, by, and for the people — not just big-money corporations and (2) economic fairness and prosperity that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few. Some people wring their hands at the perverse ethic of inequality and the rise of plutocratic rule that have invaded our America, hoping in vain that some golden-haired politician will ride in to save them. They might as well trust their last pork chop to a coyote.

Another great songwriter and activist, Patti Smith, has a song that brings all three of her talents into a single refrain: “People have the power / To dream / To rule / To wrestle the world from fools.”

For “people power” to be more than a cliché shouted out at rallies, it has to do something — such as dream, wrestle, and rule. That pretty well defines this remarkable, grassroots group of people-power doers who’ve come together under the principled banner of CCI. These feisty farmers, conservationists, workers, students, consumers, and other everyday Iowa people have strategized, organized, and mobilized to take on bankers, bosses, big shots, bastards, and BSers in battle after battle for economic, environmental, social and political justice.

The members of CCI have joined hands with the people of Iowa and beyond to wrestle their world from the greedheads and boneheads who feel entitled to fool around with ordinary people’s lives. That scrappy democratic spirit is what we need to bring about change in today’s political process.

Years ago, I came across a small moving company consisting only of two guys and one truck. But they had a big, can-do attitude that was summed up in their advertising slogan: “If we can get it loose, we can move it.” That’s the operating model offered by CCI — get democracy loose at the grassroots level, and the people themselves will move it forward. For information and inspiration about people taking charge, go to www.iowacci.org

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.

Photo: JimmyWayne/Flickr

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

FBI attack suspect Ricky Shiffer, right, and at US Capitol on January 6, 2021

(Reuters) - An armed man who tried to breach the FBI building in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Thursday was shot dead by police following a car chase, a gun battle and a standoff in a cornfield northeast of town, officials said.

Police had yet to identify the dead man and during a pair of news briefings declined to comment on his motive. The New York Times and NBC News, citing unnamed sources, identified him as Ricky Shiffer, 42, who may have had extreme right-wing views.

Keep reading... Show less

Donald Trump

Youtube Screenshot

Federal agents were searching for secret documents pertaining to nuclear weapons among other classified materials when they raided former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home on Monday, according to a new report.

Citing people familiar with the investigation, the Washington Post reported on Thursday night that some of the documents sought by investigators in Trump’s home were related to nuclear and “special access programs,” but didn’t specify if they referred to the U.S. arsenal or another nations' weapons, or whether such documents were found.

Keep reading... Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}