Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

36 hours left in this Mid-Year Campaign. This is our hour of need.
If you value independent journalism, please support Common Dreams.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Joe-Biden-Pointing

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at the White House in Washington, D.C., on August 5, 2021. (Photo: Win McNamee/AFP via Getty Images)

Joe Biden: Stop Telling People You're on Their Side and Start Showing Them You Are

Breaking the stranglehold that monopolistic corporations have on our economy and our people is not a job for the politically meek.

Jim Hightower

 by Creators.com

For years, as ever-bigger corporate combines grabbed ever-bigger chunks of market power, America's political, media and academic establishment scoffed at critics, drowning them out with jolly rounds of "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah." But the concentration of corporate power can no longer be dismissed, for it's all too real. It wreaks real havoc on entire economic sectors, workaday families, communities and our nation's essential uniting value of fairness. Pontificators of the status quo can coo all the free-enterprise platitudes they want, but a rising grassroots majority (including supposedly conservative farmers and ranchers) is experiencing corporate repression firsthand. Those families are doing their own kitchen-table tabulations and realizing that the game has been deliberately rigged against them. A mad-as-hell moment is percolating at the grassroots.

The key to winning is not by schmoozing McConnell and Manchin, but by going into the countryside and rallying the majority of people fed up with corporate arrogance and abuse.

Biden at least recognizes this, seems to feel people's pain and anger, and (unlike other recent Democratic presidents) has put it on his national agenda: "Capitalism without competition isn't capitalism," he recently said, "it's exploitation." All right, then: You go, Joe!

But he hasn't. Yes, he's made some good reform proposals, appointed a couple of top-notch antitrust regulators, issued a few useful procedural changes, held some closed-door White House meetings on the topic, and been willing to call out a few of the worst gougers and profiteers. That's good. But wholly inadequate. It's all inside-the-Beltway stuff, and even though Biden has been a consummate, 48-year inside player who promised that his collegial skills would let him "get things done," the people being run over just see more political talk without action. Supermarket beef prices still rise, cattle prices fall, meatpacker power and profits soar, and grassroots people keep getting bulled. In fairness, Biden has a heavy load: sour old Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Manchin-Sinema blob, the monopoly lobby, milquetoast Democrats, a clueless media corps, etc. But don't whine; get out of Washington!

Breaking the stranglehold that monopolistic corporations have on our economy and our people is not a job for the politically meek. The establishment's standard responses of loud denunciation, investigative task forces and regulatory proposals don't do anything but stall actual change. Rather, asserting democracy over plutocracy is a momentous, brawling struggle for fundamental structural repair, requiring gutsy leaders willing to go right at the bastards with unconventional outsider strategies. The key to winning is not by schmoozing McConnell and Manchin, but by going into the countryside and rallying the majority of people fed up with corporate arrogance and abuse. So, Joe...

  • Go to the people. Embark on a series of whistle-stop tours to excite and enlist grassroots fighters.
  • Join ranchers and workers at the Big Four meatpacking plants to dramatize and protest the abuses.
  • File actions under the Justice Department's authority to break up anti-competitive combines.
  • Pursue high-profile criminal charges against price-fixing executives.
  • Ban stock buybacks.
  • Deploy cabinet members across the country to publicize local abuses and demand stronger anti-trust laws.
  • Bring small family farmers and ranchers to the White House to tell their stories and personalize the issue.

In short, stop telling people you're on their side and start showing them that you are. As historian Meg Jacobs recently put it: "Inflation is largely the result of choices that businesses make. And history shows that presidents have the power to stem inflation by taking on corporate power—if they choose.


© 2021 Creators Syndicate
Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the books "Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow" (2008) and "There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos: A Work of Political Subversion" (1998). Hightower has 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.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Naomi Klein: The US Is in the Midst of a 'Shock-and-Awe Judicial Coup'

"The rolling judicial coup coming from this court is by no means over," warned the author of "The Shock Doctrine."

Jake Johnson ·


Markey, Bowman Join Climate Coalition in Urging SCOTUS Expansion

"We cannot sit idly by," said Markey, "as extremists on the Supreme Court eviscerate the authorities that the government has had for decades to combat climate change and reduce pollution."

Brett Wilkins ·


Ocasio-Cortez Says US 'Witnessing a Judicial Coup in Process'

"It is our duty to check the Court's gross overreach of power in violating people's inalienable rights and seizing for itself the powers of Congress and the president."

Brett Wilkins ·


Critics Say Biden Drilling Bonanza 'Won't Lower Gas Prices' But 'Will Worsen Climate Crisis'

"President Biden's massive public lands giveaway in the face of utter climate catastrophe is just the latest sign that his climate commitments are mere rhetoric," said one campaigner.

Kenny Stancil ·


'Payoff for 40 Years of Dark Money': Supreme Court Delivers for Corporate America

"It was the conservative court's larger agenda to gut the regulatory state and decimate executive powers to protect Americans' health and safety," warned one expert.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo