Hightower on American democracy:
In the first presidential election, only 4 percent of the population was eligible to vote, because you couldn’t vote if you were a woman, couldn’t vote if you were slave or African American, couldn’t vote it you were Native American, couldn’t vote it you did not own property. So that left nearly everybody out. It’s not that they established democracy; they established the possibility of democracy, and that possibility is, I think, what people look back to.
Every step along the way, every bit of democracy we have has required great sacrifice, blood, death and financial ruin on the part of the people who did that extension of democracy. It’s always been the establishment that has opposed it. The establishment doesn’t bring us progress. Progress comes from the grassroots.
Hightower on excessive corporate power and the outsourcing of American jobs:
Well, that’s what the Boston Tea Party was about. It wasn’t about a tea tax; it was about the East India Company being allowed to monopolize the tea trade in this country and in England…So it was a rebellion against a global corporation. They engaged in what would be considered corporate terrorism today by going aboard the East India Company’s ships and dumping the tea overboard.
The founding fathers would have definitely been opposed to oil giants or any kind of giants. They hated corporations. They feared corporations. Again, the East India Company was a large part of what the rebellion was about. They didn’t believe corporations should have any more unique standing in society than the corporate charter itself. They put very strict terms on allowing a corporate charter to be issued. Today you go down and file a piece of paper. You don’t even have to go anywhere. You just e-mail it in. But in those days you had to have a clear public purpose.