Moyers on Democracy

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  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2009-05-05
  • Publisher: Anchor

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People know Bill Moyers from his many years of path-breaking journalism on television. But he is also one of America's most sought-after public speakers. In this collection of speeches, Moyers celebrates the promise of American democracy and offers a passionate defense of its principles of fairness and justice.Moyers on Democracytakes on crucial issues such as economic inequality, our broken electoral process, our weakened independent press, and the despoiling of the earth we share as our common gift.

Author Biography

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

Introductionp. 1
The Ideal of Service
For America's Sake December 12, 2006: A New Story for Americap. 11
At Large September 21, 1986: Peace Corps Twenty-fifth Anniversary Memorial Servicep. 23
The Broad Margin November 22, 1988: Peace Corps Commemoration of the Death of John F. Kennedyp. 29
The Happy Warrior June 23, 1998: The Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs in Commemoration of Hubert H. Humphrey's Speech to the Democratic National Convention in 1948p. 34
Remembering Bill Coffin April 20, 2006: Eulogy for William Sloane Coffin, June 1, 1924-April 12, 2006p. 53
The Meaning of Freedom November 15, 2006: Excerpt from the Sol Feinstone Lecture at the United States Military Academyp. 59
The Power of Democracy February 7, 2007: Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation Presented Judith and Bill Moyers with the First Frank E. Taplin Jr. Public Intellectual Awardp. 81
Help March 3, 2007: American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officersp. 94
Farewell to Lady Bird July 14, 2007: Eulogy for Lady Bird Johnson, December 22, 1912-July 11, 2007p. 113
The Uses of History
A Refusal to Remember May 14, 1987: Honorary Doctorate from the Jewish Theological Seminaryp. 123
The Big Story March 7, 1997: Texas State Historical Associationp. 129
When the Past Meets the Present May 5, 2000: The Committee of 100p. 143
A Vision of the Future March 8, 1991: Keynote Address for the National Legislative Education Foundation's Democratic Issues Conferencep. 157
So Great A Soul January 28, 1996: Memorial Service for Barbara Jordan, February 21, 1936-January 17, 1996p. 169
Money Talks November 24, 1997: Sacramento Community Centerp. 177
Saving Democracy February 2006: Remarks on a Lecture Series in California on the Issue of Money and Politicsp. 193
After 9/11 October 16, 2001: Keynote Address for the Environmental Grantmakers Associationp. 219
America 101 October 27, 2006: Council of the Great City Schools Fiftieth Anniversary Fall Conferencep. 235
The Media
Time to Tell November 2, 1991: International Documentary Association Awards Dinnerp. 253
Remembering Fred W. Friendly March 1998: Eulogy for Fred W. Friendly, October 30, 1916-March 13, 1998p. 260
The Fight For Public Broadcasting May 15, 2005: National Conference for Media Reformp. 265
Penguins and the Politics of Denial October 1, 2005: Annual Conference of the Society of Environmental Journalistsp. 284
Democracy, Secrecy, and Ideology December 9, 2005: The Twentieth Anniversary of the National Security Archivep. 299
Life on the Plantation January 12, 2007: National Conference for Media Reformp. 313
Journalism Matters August 9, 2007: Annual Conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communicationp. 331
God Help Us June 1, 2000: The Charles E. Wilson Chalice Award from Religion in American Lifep. 353
The Sport of God September 7, 2005: Union Theological Seminary Presents Judith and Bill Moyers the Union Medalp. 362
A Commencement Address
Pass the Bread May 20, 2006: Hamilton College Baccalaureate Servicep. 379
Acknowledgmentsp. 387
Indexp. 389
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.



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 the edge, with no friend in the White House.


You could not have chosen a better time to gather. Voters have provided a respite from a right-wing radicalism predicated on the philosophy that extremism in the pursuit of virtue is no vice. It seems only yesterday that the Trojan horse of conservatism was hauled into Washington to disgorge Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist, and their band of ravenous predators masquerading as a political party of small government, fiscal restrai

Excerpted from Moyers on Democracy by Bill Moyers, Bill Moyers
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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