MAILED: Sept. 1, 2000
Jim Hightower will open the 2000-2001 season of The Forum lecture series at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Monday, Sept. 18.
Radio commentator, best-selling author and political sparkplug, Hightower will speak at 7:30 p.m. in Zorn Arena. The title of his new book "If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates" foreshadows the election-eve insights that Hightower will share in his presentation titled "Election 2000: A Space Odyssey."
"Presidential elections have not been about big ideas, contrasting philosophies or even about people for several cycles now," Hightower says. "But this one is shaping up to be a particularly surreal space odyssey."
An equal opportunity muckraker, Hightower believes that "the true political spectrum is not right to left, but top to bottom." Known as America's most popular populist, he has become a leading national voice for the 80 percent of Americans who no longer find themselves even within shouting distance of those at the top. The Texan has spent more than two decades battling Washington and Wall Street on behalf of consumers, children, working families, environmentalists, small business and just-plain-folks.
Jim Hightower's roots are firmly planted in his populist Texas origins and were nurtured by the discussions he heard outside his father's newsstand. He worked his way through college, graduating from North Texas State University with a degree in government. He went on to a year of graduate studies in international affairs at Columbia University.
Right out of college, Hightower went to work as a legislative aide to Texas Sen. Ralph Yarborough. In the early 1970s he founded and headed the Agribusiness Accountability Project investigating, testifying and writing about the human costs of corporate profiteering and the value of sustainable, healthy, cooperative farming.
From 1977 to 1979 Hightower edited the Texas Observer. Under his leadership the nationally respected biweekly news magazine published hard-hitting investigative articles about the new economic power squeezing hometown businesses, working families, farmers, minorities and consumers.
In 1979 Hightower was awarded the Texas Farmers Union's outstanding journalist award; but this, finally, was not enough. In his farewell editorial he wrote that "there comes a time when writing about the bastards ain't enough."
Hightower was elected Texas Agriculture Commissioner in 1982, and remained in office until 1991. The statewide post enabled him to work for policy and regulatory initiatives on behalf of the family farmers and consumers he had long advocated.
During those years he also chaired the National Democratic Party's Agriculture Council, was profiled on CBS-TV's "60 Minutes," and was listed by the National Journal as one of the 150 individuals who make a difference in the nation's capital.
Hightower created a muckraking news and issues radio program in 1991, and on Labor Day 1996 his call-in show "Hightower Radio: Live from the Chat & Chew Cafe" made its debut. His daily radio commentaries continue to win awards and audiences, airing in more than 50 markets from coast to coast. His monthly newsletter, "The Hightower Lowdown," has more than 50,000 subscribers and is the fastest-growing political newsletter in the U.S.
Admission is $7 for the public; $5 for those age 62 and older and UW-Eau Claire faculty/staff; or $3 for those age 17 and younger and UW-Eau Claire students. Tickets are available at the University Service Center in Davies Center and will be sold at the door.
Patrons also may charge their tickets to MasterCard or Visa when they order by phone. Call the University Service Center, (715) 836-3727 or, outside the immediate Eau Claire area, call toll-free (800) 949-UWEC. A $3 handling fee will be added to all telephone charge orders.
Season subscription information also is available at the Service Center. A range of subscription packages is available, offering discounts of 10 to 20 percent.
The Forum is made possible by student funds allocated by the UW-Eau Claire Student Senate.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Sept. 1, 2000