The Lowdown is on the move

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Word of the Day: Change. Whether used as a verb or a noun, it’s one of the most powerful and versatile words in our language, capable of stirring a wide range of emotions, from dread … to hope. You don’t want to hear your corporate boss tell you: “We’re going to make a change.” On the other hand, you can move forward joyously in the implicit promise of Mavis Staples’ uplifting anthem “Change”: “Say it loud, say it clear/We gotta change around here.”

Well, the time has come for us to make a change in the Lowdown, both because it’s financially necessary and because it promises to be a good thing. And we hope you’ll make the change with us.

Cartoon by Brian Duffy

After nearly a quarter century of printing and mailing our scrappy little newsletter to roughly 100,000 of you loyal Lowdowners each month, the recent skyrocketing costs of paper, postage, and other production essentials has forced us to make a choice: Shut down … or change. Thanks in large part to your enthusiastic support, we’re convinced that our down-home populist voice, constant push for little d-democratic values, and unique focus on grassroots progressive activism are needed more than ever–so we’re choosing change. And we intend for this change to work for you, providing both a smooth transition to a new medium and a good deal. So … here we go:

1. You’ll actually get more Hightower and it’ll be more timely. You’ll still receive my usual takes on populist issues and actions (including our steady focus on the 6Bs– Bosses, Bankers, Billionaires, Big Shots, Bastards, and BSers). But instead of a monthly newsletter, we’ll send two of my commentaries each week direct to your email inbox. You won’t have to download them, go to a website, or do anything other than simply provide your email address so we can send them to you. (See details below.) As a current subscriber to the departing print newsletter, these 300-word Lowdown emails–and all of our paid-subscriber-only offerings–will start appearing in your inbox FOR FREE for an extended trial period.

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2. You don’t even have to read them. If you want, I’ll read them to you! I record each of my commentaries as two-minute audio episodes that you can easily tune into. Just tap the red “Listen” button in the email we send and–voila!–there I’ll be with my Texas twang delivering that day’s Lowdown message right to your ears.

3. Just as we partnered with a print-and-mail service to deliver our print newsletter to you, we are now teaming up with Substack, an email service that helps a network of independent writers like me send digital newsletters directly to subscribers, i.e., you. In one easy-to-reach place, Substack literally “stacks” all of our various offerings, including the commentaries, our monthly Chat & Chew interview show, periodic comments from me about breaking-news, historical nuggets to put today’s events in perspective, calls-to-action, and any other observations we deem timely, interesting, or just fun. Playing off the Substack name (and in keeping with our constant push to bring political issues and activism down to earth), we’re calling our assorted offerings “Short Stacks”–like plates of hot cakes at a local cafe. Many of those will be free to everyone. But, as at a good cafe or bar, the Lowdown will offer some sides and snacks for those paying subscribers who want a little extra, such as: the “Ask Me Anything” happy hour we’ll hold with those of you who want some in-person interaction with me and our Lowdown crew, outtakes from our videos and podcasts, recipes of dishes I’m cooking, and sneak previews of new projects. Onward!

So here we come

So, here we come with a new format and some new features, but with the same populist punch and independent spirit that has propelled us since we launched in 1999. The Lowdown has kept a tight focus on:

  • The power and money behind the politics (as Italians say “Qui bono?”–who benefits from the scheme?)
  • Telling each story in plain language that connects the dots, showing who’s-doing-what-to-whom-how-and-why
  • Linking readers to solutions and to groups successfully battling the 6Bs.

Throughout the Lowdown’s years of populist muckraking, we’ve tried not to flit from story to story, but to take the time to point out how various economic-political-social-cultural struggles are related. We really are in this together, confronting an audacious, multipronged power grab by an ever-narrowing moneyed elite who are assaulting our nation’s unifying democratic values of economic fairness, social justice, and equal opportunity for all.

Moreover, our mission is not just journalism, but activism. Instead of getting people agitated, our goal is to get them agitating. That’s where our Good News coverage comes in. As an unabashed movement publication, we’re in touch with many of the “outsider” activists, groups, and coalitions that are largely ignored by the media and political establishment. We cover and celebrate these feisty grassroots rebels, for they are our nation’s progressive hope. They are on the front lines in zip codes all across the country (including in rural, small town, and red-state America), winning battles large and small against corporatism, bossism, racism, sexism, and assorted other stupidisms.

It’s the day-in/day-out grubhoe work of these unsung, tenacious, mad-as-hell, “little-d” democrats who are the real change-makers. As we say in Texas, they’re engaged in “politics with hair on it,” daring to confront this fundamental reality: Too few people control too much of the money and power in our society, and they’re using their control to grab more for themselves at our expense.

Now–with our full Substack menu of Lowdown commentaries, Chat & Chew interviews, Happy Hour sessions, etc.–we will keep pushing America’s egalitarian idealism and encouraging people’s rebellious spirit against concentrations of power. Among the issues we’ll be all over in the next few weeks are:

  • Wall Street’s stealth march to monopolize nearly all medical providers
  • The “DeJoyous Decimation” of our public postal service
  • America’s crushing child care crisis
  • The return of wage-busting Bossism
  • Fracking earthquakes
  • “State of the Plate” food & farm topics
  • The GOP’s anti-diversity perversity, and
  • The “Right to Die” movement.

As always, we also welcome ideas from you Lowdowners on subjects/outrages/rebellions/etc. we should highlight.

Come with us…

Please! Our country and, most significantly, our people’s historic democratic ideals face a very rocky political road ahead. Our path can be more easily navigated and even smoothed out if we Lowdowners continue to travel it together. Also, by sticking together, we can reach more people, engaging them in the spirited work of building a democracy that works –Of, By, and For ALL (the very ideal we preach to our children).

Indeed, it’s this outreach potential that finally convinced those of us at Lowdown Central (my kitchen table) to make the shift to Substack. This simple affordable email distribution system is a modern-day version of a community bulletin board where we can post our Lowdown broadsides and alerts.

Moreover, Substack has become a community for tens of thousands of people younger than I who communicate primarily through digital channels and don’t subscribe to printed newsletters. I’ve often heard older progressives complain: “We can’t get young people to come to our meetings!” And I’ll respond, “So, go to their meetings!” The Lowdown is taking my advice: We’re going where the emerging generations of grassroots progressive leaders are gathering and supporting their issues/solutions.

One especially exciting prospect is offering Lowdown Substack subscriptions at a very low-down rate for high school, college, and tech-training teachers so entire classes can share the progressive-populist message, materials, and activism. This will also open the door for students to participate in our Chat & Chew interviews and other exchanges.

By necessity, we’ll have a slimmed down crew preparing our short stacks for you, but Laura, Jay, Deanna, and I are enthusiastic about traveling the road ahead with you. See Deanna’s note on page 2 for the easy-to-follow path for the free transfer of your Lowdown subscription to the new email delivery. THANK YOU!


The print edition of the Lowdown may be going away, but there’s plenty more Hightower to enjoy, and we’ll apply the value of your current subscription toward an all-access pass to “Jim Hightower’s Lowdown” on Substack. Just fill out a very simple internet form with your email plus your name and zip as they appear on your mailing label and, within a few days, everything Hightower will start appearing in your email inbox.

Convert your current subscription to Substack by going to Your complimentary all-access subscription to “Jim Hightower’s Lowdown” on Substack will keep you abreast of everything Hightower: commentaries, investigative reports, interviews with progressive sparklies, historical nuggets, snappy observations on current events, and even Happy Hours with the man himself.

We hope you’ll come along on this ride with us! It’s new, it’s different, it’s also fun–and it’s really easy to make the switch. Please take a moment to do it now.


Do subscriptions to the Lowdown on Substack cost anything?

The Lowdown on Substack offers both free and paid subscriptions. Free subscriptions provide access to Hightower’s public posts including most of his commentaries. But paying subscribers are given access to far more, including all of Hightower’s Chat & Chew interview shows with progressive leaders, his pops of populist history, plus the inside scoop on new projects.

As a paid subscriber to the Lowdown’s print edition, you’ll be given full credit toward a complimentary all-access subscription to the Lowdown on Substack. Simply fill out the conversion form at, and we can handle the rest. As you approach the end of the complimentary period, we’ll send you a reminder to see if you’d like to continue on as a paying subscriber. We hope you’ll stick with us–paid subscriptions will keep us in the fight–but there’s no obligation to continue.

I made a significant donation to the Lowdown when you asked last year. Will that get me anything toward a Substack all-access subscription?

Yes! Seriously, you Lowdowners who stepped up with special contributions last year saved our bacon. We wouldn’t have been able to make this transition without you. At the time of this writing, we’re still working out the mechanics of how to give you that “credit,” but we know who you are and we’ll take care of you.

What if I don’t want a subscription to the Lowdown on Substack?

We get it. Some of our best friends are hard-core print fans. We wish we could afford to keep printing the Lowdown and sending it out via our friends at the USPS, but the reality is that we can’t. But with the lower costs of publishing on Substack, our modest-but-mighty media outfit should be able to sustain itself financially, and Hightower will be able to keep after the 6Bs. We hope you’ll give it a try.

Is there a deadline for converting my subscription?

Not yet, but the sooner you send us your info the better. We’re gearing up for getting your subscription converted, so we can pretty much guarantee a quick turnaround if you send your information to us by early April. After that, it might be a little slower. We hope we’ll hear from you soon.

Special Thanks . . . to You

Oooo, boy, last year was rough for the Lowdown. We don’t need to repeat the details– we banged on about them enough in issues and mailings–but suffice it to say that the end was near . . . until you Lowdowners came to the rescue. You answered our fundraising appeals with extraordinary generosity, and it’s no stretch to say that without those contributions (and those morale-lifting letters as well), we wouldn’t be here to make this exciting transition. We can’t thank you enough–and we’ll try to pay it forward.


As we move from print to email, let us pay grateful tribute to those free spirits who have been central to the success of this populist “burr under the establishment’s saddle” during our 24 year run: Susan DeMarco, who had the idea for the Lowdown, co-founded it, and was our guiding light for 20 years; Phillip Frazer, newsletter guru who launched it into the direct mail cosmos and was publisher in the early years; Jay Harris who picked up the baton from Phillip and for more than a decade has been not only the publisher but the Lowdown’s chief “cat wrangler”; Laura Ehrlich, co-producer and our political coordinator for 20 years; Deanna “DZ” Zandt, our digital dynamo, co-producer, and co-host of the Chat & Chew interview show; Melody Byrd, researcher, scheduler, and radio coordinator; Brian Duffy and Matt Wuerker, the two sharp-witted cartoonist imps who enlivened issue after issue; and Debra “Sahu” Barron, ardent activist and creative whiz who designed the newsletter for 16 years, ably followed by Terry Allen, our multi-talented design-and-copy editor. Special thanks also to Kevin Walter and Amber Hewins, our friends and savvy subscription duo at CircMonster, as well as the diligent team at United Envelope, the union shop that has printed the Lowdown since Day One.

I’m making moves!

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve started a Substack newsletter for all of our content. You’ll still find our older, archived materials here at, but the latest (and greatest?) observations from Jim Hightower are only now available at our new Substack website.

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