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Moyers on Democracyby Bill Moyers
Synopses & Reviews
1. FOR AMERICA'S SAKE
A New Story for America
December 12, 2006
My father dropped out of the fourth grade and never returned to school because his family needed him to pick cotton to help make ends meet. The Great Depression knocked him down and almost out. When I was born he was making $2 a day working on the highway to Oklahoma City. He never took home more than $100 a week in his working life, and he made that only when he joined the union in the last job he held. He voted for Franklin Roosevelt in four straight elections and would have gone on voting for him until kingdom come if he'd had the chance. I once asked him why, and he said, "Because he was my friend." My father of course never met FDR; no politician ever paid him much note. Many years later when I wound up working in the White House my parents came for a visit and my father asked to see the Roosevelt Room. I don't quite know how to explain it, except that my father knew who was on his side. When FDR died my father wept; he had lost his friend. This man with a fourth-grade education understood what the patrician in the White House meant when he talked about "economic royalism" and how private power no less than public power can bring America to ruin in the absence of democratic controls. When the president said "the malefactors of great wealth" had concentrated into their own hands "an almost complete control over other people's property, other people's money, other people's labor, and other people's lives," my father said amen; he believed the president knew what life was like for people like him. When the president said life was no longer free, liberty no longer real, men could no longer follow the pursuit of happiness against "economic tyranny such as this," my father nodded. He got it when Roosevelt said that a government by money was as much to be feared as a government by mob, and that the political equality we once had was meaningless in the face of economic inequality. Against organized wealth, FDR said that "the American citizen could appeal only to the organized power of government." My father knew the president meant him.
Today my father would be written out of America's story. He would belong to what the sociologist Katherine Newman calls the "missing class"*--the fifty-seven million Americans who occupy an obscure place between the rungs of our social ladder, earning wages above the minimum but below a secure standard of living. They work hard for their $20,000 to $40,000 a year, and they are vital to the functioning of the country, as transit workers, day-care providers, hospital attendants, teachers' aides, clerical assistants. They live one divorce, one pink slip, one illness away from a free fall. Largely forgotten by the press, politicians, and policy makers who fashion government safety nets, they have no nest egg, no income but the next paycheck, no way of paying for their children to go to college. Over the years I have chronicled the lives of some of these people in my documentaries. Now, a few days after the election of 2006, I was asked to speak at a conference sponsored by The Nation, the Brennan Center for Justice, the New Democracy Project, and Demos to discuss the prospects of democracy. Those prospects are dim, I realized, unless we write a story of America that includes those people who are living on th
BILL MOYERS was a founding organizer of the Peace Corps, a senior White House assistant (and press secretary) to President Lyndon Johnson from 1963 until 1967,
In a collection of eloquent speeches, the renowned broadcaster shares his thoughts on the state of America, the betrayal of the nation's democratic ideals by the Bush administration, and the need to reconnect with our constitutional principles and history of reform, speaking out on such issues as religion in public life, the environment, and the Iraq war. 60,000 first printing.
From the famed broadcaster and one of the nation's most-admired public figures, this collection of blisteringly eloquent speeches delivers inspiring words that embody the best of the American spirit. Timely topics addressed include the proper place of religion in public life; the mounting environmental crisis; the struggle to keep public...
About the Author
BILL MOYERS was a founding organizer of the Peace Corps, a senior White House assistant (and press secretary) to President Lyndon Johnson from 1963 until 1967, publisher of Newsday, senior news analyst for CBS News, and producer of many of public television’s groundbreaking series. He is the winner of more than thirty Emmy awards and nine Peabody awards, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television, the Career Achievement Award from the International Documentary Association, and the Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts by the American Film Institute. Among his bestselling books are Listening to America, A World of Ideas, The Power of Myth (with Joseph Campbell), and Moyers on America. He serves as the pro-bono president of the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy.
Table of Contents
THE IDEAL OF SERVICE: A new story for America (2006) — Peace Corps 25th anniversary memorial service (1986) — The Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs in commemoration of HHH's speech to the Democratic National Convention in 1948 (1998) — Eulogy for William Sloane Bill Coffin (2006) — Excerpt from the Sol Feinstone lecture at the U.S. Military Academy (2006) — Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation presents Judith and Bill Moyers with the first Frank E. Taplin, Jr. Public Intellect Award (2007) — Help: American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (2007) — Eulogy for Lady Bird Johnson (2007) — THE USES OF HISTORY: Honorary doctorate from the Jewish Theological Seminary (1987) — Texas State Historical Assn (1997) — When the past meets the present: The Committee of 100 (2000) — POLITICS: Keynote for the National Legislative Education Foundation's Democratic Issues Conference (1991) — Memorial Service for Barbara Jordan (1996) — Money Talks: Sacramento Community Center (1997) — Saving democracy: remarks on a lecture series in California on the issue of money and politics (2006) — After 9/11: Keynote for the Environmental Grantmakers Assn (2001) — America 101: Council of the Great City Schools 50th Anniv. Fall Conference (2006) — THE
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