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BILL ALBRECHT Hightower during interview at his office Oh, yeah. It’s very clear. I mean, my style of politics is a bit different. I start with a bit different base, a high name recognition, a network of organized supporters who are out there, but even for me, I am certainly going to have to spend half of my time in fundraising, personally by me. You and Michael Barnes are correct there. Think about that idea. To be considered as a possible candidate for the U.S. Senate, one of the highest offices in our land, considered credible by the press, by the politicos, etcetera, the big question is: Can you raise ten million dollars? Which immediately eliminates 95 percent of politicians, much less 99 percent of the American people. We may as well do away with the 17th Amendment is it the 17th? direct Senatorial election amendment. Because it has effectively been done away with. When that is the entry fee, the ante, for serving in the United States Senate, no matter what ideas you have, how competent you are, how experienced you are, what a great U.S. Senator you would be, you cannot even be in the game if you can’t ante up the ten million dollars, then you don’t have a democracy. Then you add to that high figure the fact that you’ve got to spend half of your time or more, in the living rooms of the rich, making phone calls to the offices of the rich, paying homage to the rich in the case of Democrats, most of whom are very good people but nonetheless, there you are spending your time raising money instead of raising issues, raising hopes and raising hell. I wonder if you could have done it differently. Perhaps Jesse Jackson in some respects disproved that when he was able to run in the Democratic primary with so much less money than the other Democrats. Yes, that would have been an added boost for me. While I don’t think I’m on a par with Jesse Jackson in terms of an ability to draw a crowd, what he did show was that people with strong ideas and the ability to articulate them, can transcend the absolute demand for that level of money. But bear in mind, Jesse Jackson raised a lot of money. He was not outspent in every race. He was early on, but later on he was spending very serious money. So say you don’t have to raise ten million dollars, you have to raise eight million. I mean, it’s still, until you develop a base, and the Jesse Jacksons of the world and maybe people of my ilk help do that, but until you physically get out using somebody’s political capital or the political capital of several somebodys, then you’re not going to have a base in place in 1992 and ’94 and beyond, that would make it possible for somebody to run without having to amass millions of dollars. And how do you create that base? Well, the base is there. People are always ahead of the politicians. And they’re way ahead of where the Democratic Party has been. You look at that dismal Presidential election that we just went through. When basically it was progressives who nominated Dukakis. And then immediately they’re abandoned. Shunned. Like we didn’t exist. Labor unions spent maybe 20 million dollars in that Presidential race and they had a candidate who wouldn’t say the word union. Much less stand up with a union official somewhere. And yet the people who are out there are not anti-union certainly not anti-worker. And if you look at the issues that really mattered to people, even in that election, those issues were not the ones that were discussed, they were the issues that Jesse Jackson talked about. And that I talk about. We’ve got some poll numbers over there it’s rather astonishing stuff. This. is exit polls of people expressing what issues were important in their vote. SDI and Star Wars: only 21 percent of the voters thought that that was important. Abortion: only 35 percent the same 35 percent who always thinks that. No new taxes: 45 percent. But then you get into longterm health care and health insurance for everyone: 55 percent. Helping the poor and homeless find jobs and earn a decent living: 66 percent. Imposing stricter environmental regulations on corporations that produce toxic waste: 73. Make sure the wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share of taxes: 77 percent. These are our issues. That’s where the people are. And that’s why we have these mealymouthed political campaigns and then they wonder why there’s not a turnout. Because we’re not saying anything that makes them want to go vote. So, to me the base is already there. And of course I experience it when I go out and speak and we experience it through this agency when we give people an opportunity, the tools of self-help; boy, they pick them up enthusiastically and make things happen. They’ll do the same thing politically. So building that base means first of all getting your message out and your vision. It’s not just, we’re not talking about sending issue papers to someone, or going down a litany of positions we’re in favor of, we’re saying a certain vision and a certain programmatic notion. Who we’re for. And who we’re against. And what we’re willing to do to help the ones we’re for. You put that out, recruit candidates who are willing to deliver that message, you put skilled people behind those candidates so that a good candidate doesn’t run a bad campaign, you find finances for it, you then do the work, you then draw in to the participation in that process those people who have been hearing your message. And then most fundamentally, you then lay their agenda on the table in Austin and in Washington. All that would take a good deal of organization, a network, which is what you’ve begun to talk about. I’d like to ask your vision of what kind of organization that would be. Well we’re not trying to create yet another organization. This isn’t going to be Hightower’s Supermarket and All-Night Taco Stand. It is going to be more of a political apparatus. Its going to express a viewpoint. To begin to get into the debate. It is going to rally what is already there. For example, I would think it might be possible for us to create a progressive elected officials’ organization. There’s got to be at least a thousand out there school board members, city council members, THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7