National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of If the Gods had Meant us to Vote They Would Have Given us Candidates, Jim Hightowerhas spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be – consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks.
Twice elected Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Hightower believes that the true political spectrum is not right to left but top to bottom, and he has become a leading national voice for the 80 percent of the public who no longer find themselves within shouting distance of the Washington and Wall Street powers at the top.
Hightower is a modern-day Johnny Appleseed, spreading the message of progressive populism all across the American grassroots.
He broadcasts daily radio commentaries that are carried in more than 90 commercial and public stations, on the web, on Armed Forces Radio, Radio for Peace International, One World Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio.
Each month, he publishes a populist political newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown, which now has more than 90,000 subscribers and is the fastest growing political publication in America. The hard-hitting Lowdown has received both the Alternative Press Award and the Independent Press Association Award for best national newsletter.
A popular public speaker who is fiery and funny, he is a populist road warrior who delivers more than 100 speeches a year to all kinds of groups.
His newspaper column is carried in more than 75 independent newspapers, magazines, and other publications. He also writes a monthly column for The Nation, America’s leading progressive journal.
A best-selling author, Hightower’s latest book, If the Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates, has just been completely updated and released in a paperback version by HarperCollins. His previous books are There’s Nothing In the Middle Of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos; Eat your Heart Out; and Hard Tomatoes, Hard Times.
Hightower frequently appears on television and radio programs, bringing a hard-hitting populist viewpoint that rarely gets into the mass media. In addition, he works closely with the alternative media, and in all of his work he keeps his ever-ready Texas humor up front, practicing the credo of an old Yugoslavian proverb: “You can fight the gods and still have fun.”
Hightower also devotes much of his energy to revitalizing grassroots progressive politics with his nationwide “Rolling Thunder Down-Home Democracy Tour.” Sort-of like a county fair of progressive activism, these festivals include top-notch speakers, great music, how-to workshops, food, drink, games, clowns & fun for the whole family. In 2002, the Rolling Thunder Tour traveled to Austin, Chicago, Tucson, Seattle, Minneapolis and Duluth. The Tour will roll on throughout 2003, making the democracy-fest a permanent fixture on the American political landscape.
Hightower was raised in Denison, Texas, in a family of small business people, tenant farmers, and working folks. A graduate of the University of North Texas, he worked in Washington as legislative aide to Sen. Ralph Yarborough of Texas; he then co-founded the Agribusiness Accountability Project, a public interest project that focused on corporate power in the food economy; and he was national coordinator of the 1976 “Fred Harris for President” campaign. Hightower then returned to his home state, where he became editor of the feisty biweekly, The Texas Observer. He served as director of the Texas Consumer Association before running for statewide office and being elected to two terms as Texas Agriculture Commissioner (1983-1991).
During the 90’s, Hightower became known as “America’s most popular populist,” developing his radio commentaries, hosting two radio talk shows, writing books, launching his newsletter, giving fiery speeches coast to coast, and otherwise speaking out for the American majority that’s being locked out economically and politically by the elites. As political columnist Molly Ivins says, “If Will Rogers and Mother Jones had a baby, Jim Hightower would be that rambunctious child — mad as hell, with a sense of humor.”