By Jim Hightower
There are some things I thought I’d never hear myself say. One of them is “Hip-hip hooray for Nixon!”
That would give me a tongue cramp if I tried to say it about Tricky Dick, but this burst of praise goes out to the governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon.
Facing Republican supermajorities in the legislature, the Democratic governor nonetheless stood up to them by vetoing their nasty budget bill, which would have slashed funding for education and mental heath services while simultaneously handing a huge tax cut to corporations and the rich.
Of course, the GOP ramrodders simply scheduled a special session to override the veto, naturally assuming that their two-thirds control of the House and Senate would make this an easy task. But they hadn’t counted on one little obstacle: a gutsy governor.
Nixon didn’t just stand up to them, he fought back vigorously in a way the power elites just hate — he took the issue out of the cozy confines of the Capitol and put it directly in front of the people. Stumping across Missouri, he rallied grassroots support by telling the truth: Education for all is more important to our future than more tax breaks for the few.
Stunned, Republican leaders and corporate lobbyists, who had so vain-gloriously been flexing their political muscles, were now reduced to whining that the governor was attacking their ruinous budget with a “partisan, militant attitude.”
Well, yes. It’s about time that Democrats across our country saw a living example of Harry Truman’s “give ‘em Hell” spirit going right at the raw avarice and aggressive arrogance of today’s far-right and far-out Republican hierarchy.
And it worked. Not only did Nixon speak out, so did the people — winning the support of all Democrats and 15 Republican lawmakers to sustain Nixon’s veto. So hooray for Nixon and the people of Missouri.
OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.