'I Do Not Choose to Run': Raising Issues, Hope and Hell

By Hightower, Jim | The Nation, February 6, 1989 | Go to article overview

'I Do Not Choose to Run': Raising Issues, Hope and Hell


Hightower, Jim, The Nation


Jim Hightower, the Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, has emerged as a national leader of the loose alliance of populist and progressive forces -based in cities, suburbs and farmlands - that became a critical component of Democratic Party politics during the campaigns of 1988. In some ways he is a white, rural political analogue to Jesse Jackson: Both men seek to organize the same broad base, according to similar principles, for a common agenda. The two, of course, have quite different core constituencies, which must be merged for the success of the alliance. Last March, with Jackson by his side on the floor of the Texas Senate, Hightower became the first- and only- white elected state official in the country to endorse Jackson's candidacy for President.

For two years, Hightower has been gearing up for a run against conservative Republican Senator Phil Gramm, whose first term ends next year. But on January 5, in a reversal that startled Texans and populist activists around the nation, Hightower announced a change in plans. His reasons, and his analysis of the political process, are valuable and competling beyond their specific regional significance.

While I was growing up in Denison, Texas, our Congressman was the old populist Democrat Sam Rayburn. Mr. Sam once said something that has stuck with me: "Every now and then a politician ought to do something just because it's right."

I promise not to make a habit of it, but I have recently made a personal political choice just because I think it is the right thing to do. It might not, prove best for my political career -who knows? But it fits me comfortably, and I think it is the right decision in light of the larger values and goals that brought me into politics in the first place. My life's work -ftom my service as an aide to Ralph Yarborough in the U.S. Senate to my editorship of The Texas Observer, from the speeches that I give to the initiatives I make as Texas Commissioner of Agriculture -has been to be an advocate of populist principles and to try to make both political and economic democracy a possibility for the many. As I looked toward the 1990 elections, the dilemma that I faced was how I could best remain true to this long-term political effort. My decision was to run for re-election as Agriculture Commissioner and to apply my political energies toward building a Texaswide populist Democratic alliance.

The natural step for me, however, seemed to be to take on Phil Gramm in the Senate race. My supporters assumed that I would, I assumed it, and so did Gramm. It is the kind of good/evil, handsome/ugly fight that gets my juices flowing, and while I would have started as an underdog candidate challenging an incumbent Senator, I had a fair shot at winning. Polls show that my name identification and voter approval rating put me in his league. He can raise $15 million or more, but Democratic contributors all across the country were eager enough about the match that I was in danger of raising $8 million to $10 million myself. It looked as though I could avoid a costly primary fight, and Democratic activists were wildly enthusiastic about my effort. Press coverage would have been bigger than at a Super Bowl. I think I know how to run a campaign that would have driven Gramm crazy (admittedly a short ride for Phil). And, most important, despite the conventional wisdom, Gramm is vulnerable because his record is a product of his right-wing ideology rather than of common sense and the needs of Texans. The people of our state will be less than charmed to learn that Gramm has:

* voted against legislation to provide catastrophic health insurance for aging Americans;

* led the fight against giving American workers sixty days' notice before their plant is closed and they are put out of work;

* fought the extension of unemployment benefits and retraining programs to laid-off workers in the oil and gas industry;

* opposed the Clean Water Act;

* led the fight against emergency shelter and food assistance for homeless families;

* consistently voted against funding for shelters to harbor victims of domestic violence;

* voted against the 1988 Hunger Prevention Act. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

'I Do Not Choose to Run': Raising Issues, Hope and Hell
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.