The Tea Party is NOT an Astroturf Movement!

I read today an essay by Erin Jenne about the Tea Party movement.  Jenne claims the Tea Party is not a grassroots movement because it has been largely bankrolled by corporate interests and because of the active involvement of media companies in its promotion.

Liberals are kidding themselves, and seriously understate the movement, if they believe this.

Corporate funding doesn’t disqualify the Tea Party from being a bona fide grassroots movement.  If it did, most cause-related grassroots organizations – Greenpeace, Sierra Club, Susan B Komen Foundation, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, American Cancer Society and many more – would not be considered grassroots.

Nor does the active involvement of the media.  Of course, the strong support of Fox News and CNBC have been instrumental in building the Tea Party.  But the Civil Rights movement and the anti-war movement of the 1960s, among others, benefited from broadcast and print media coverage and there’s no question both were grassroots in nature.

What makes the Tea Party a true grassroots movement is the active involvement of many people and that information is freely flowing among them.  Again, there’s no question this is being facilitated by corporate funding and media involvement.  But that’s what organizers do!  Do you really think that the 2008 Obama campaign, the best run grassroots political campaign in history, was completely devoid of media and corporate support?

And it’s this face-to-face communication, and the fact that people are working together locally, that makes it a real grassroots movement.  An astroturf campaign, on the other hand, is made to appear that it has this kind of support.  Given that the Tea Party movement has been able to convince 100K people to attend the “Restoring Honor” rally at the Mall, not to mention thousands of town hall meetings, makes plain that the movement enjoys broad public support.

And if you don’t believe me, just ask Mike Castle in Delaware or Lisa Murkowski in Alaska.

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2 Responses

  1. Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, etc – these aren’t political parties. The Tea Party is more than an “interest group,” and that’s the difference.

    They’re a corporately bankrolled political bloc. They’re mainstream, they’ve got lobbyists vying for their attention instead of being the lobbyists (like the other groups mentioned), and they’re pushing and backing candidates for office.

    So, who ran on the Amnesty International ticket for president in ’08 again?

    • What you say may be true; it’s a fact that the Tea Party has been bankrolled by some very heavy hitters, as The New Yorker exposed a couple weeks ago.

      But that’s largely irrelevant with respect to their organizing tactics. The 2008 Obama campaign was funded by many wealthy interests; does that make his campaign any less grassroots?

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