Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Tea Party movement: deluded and inspired by billionaires

The Tea Party movement is remarkable in two respects. It is one of the biggest exercises in false consciousness the world has seen – and the biggest Astroturf operation in history. These accomplishments are closely related.

An Astroturf campaign is a fake grassroots movement: it purports to be a spontaneous uprising of concerned citizens, but in reality it is founded and funded by elite interests. Some Astroturf campaigns have no grassroots component at all. Others catalyse and direct real mobilisations. The Tea Party belongs in the second category. It is mostly composed of passionate, well-meaning people who think they are fighting elite power, unaware that they have been organised by the very interests they believe they are confronting. We now have powerful evidence that the movement was established and has been guided with the help of money from billionaires and big business.

Much of this money, as well as much of the strategy and staffing, were provided by two brothers who run what they call "the biggest company you've never heard of".
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14 comments:

  1. British liberals writing smug, condescending pieces about the Tea Party movement - right on script... How about a pointing out billinaire Soros's contributions to various left wing organizations influencing national debates?

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  2. How does George prove that millions of Americans don't really know their own minds? Ah! Right then....

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  3. So, in essence, the Tea Party movement is doing the same thing the Republican Party has been doing for years: getting people to vote against their interests through "ideology" and demagoguery.

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  4. Anon1, you're right - there are big money interests on both sides of the political spectrum that seek to influence activity at the grass-roots level.

    In this case I chose to reprint a commentary on the Tea Party because it was top-of-mind after a porcelain throne-sitting session with The Economist.

    If I'd been truly blocked-up, I might have had time to read a few more pages and could have ended-up at an analysis of Democratic operatives or something else...

    Thanks though for commenting - I really appreciate it and encourage everyone to share their opinions, within the framework of the three guidelines for commenting here.

    (Pappillon welcomes your comments and encourages your participation. However, in commenting, you agree that you will not:1) Post material that infringes on the rights of any third party, including intellectual property, privacy or publicity rights. 2) Post material that is unlawful, obscene, defamatory, threatening, harassing, abusive, slanderous, hateful, or embarrassing to any other person or entity as determined by Pappillon in its sole discretion. 3) Impersonate another person.)

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  5. Anon (3),

    A major Tea Party issue is stopping illegal immigration. That is PERFECTLY aligned with most Tea Party supporters' interests. Illegal immigration keeps wages for low-skilled jobs low, overwhelms social services and permanently alters the traditional demographics of the country.

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  6. Anon 13:17 - wondering if there are any particular weaknesses in the Tea Party's platform that you've identified and would want to point out, like examples where the movement's stated goals or aims are at odds with what's in the interests of its grass-roots supporters? And if there aren't any, that's fine to hear too. I'm asking out of genuine curiosity and always appreciate the debate and free exchange of ideas that can take place around politics.

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  7. I'm Anon 13:17.

    The Tea Party isn't organized like the two major national parties so there isn't a uniform foreign policy plank. Nevertheless, I suspect the majority of Tea Party candidates and supporters are in favor of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Both are prime examples of policies that do not benefit the majority of Americans. In short, interventionist foreign policy is foolish.

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  8. How's come the Team Party is a viable organization but the Libertarian Party isn't? Arent they the same?

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  9. ...and can't type29 October, 2010 00:28

    Errr, oops - I mean Tea Party. Sorry.

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  10. From The New Republic: "Four Myths About the Tea Party"
    http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/78718/four-myths-about-the-tea-party?page=0,0&utm_source=ESP%20Integrated%20List&utm_campaign=d27bca33e1-TNR_Daily_102810&utm_medium=email

    Yes, I bike. Yes, I go to Tea Party rallies. No, we have nothing to do with the Kochs. What a bunch of carp that New Yorker article is. Really, Joe, you should go check out a rally and judge for yourself.

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  11. Thanks for sharing, Andrea.

    I'm tremendously interested in politics, though more so in the context of international relations. But the fracturing of our civil society and increasing divisions along ideological lines, as opposed to economic ones, is a phenomena that I find curious. That said, I think I end-up losing the right to vote once my drama is all over, so I won't even be able to participate in civil society.

    I'm not sure how any of that works and I try not to think about it. But I do like reading the differing viewpoints and appreciate that there are people willing to defend the Tea Party but will do so in a rational, civil way.

    I just want to learn what others - what you all - are thinking and see which groups attract your support and why and better understand what the population that I'm in contact with is really up to.

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  12. Hi Joe, thanks for the civil response. I promise you the Tea Partiers are just a bunch of middle-age fogies who are tired of high taxes for programs of dubious value. There really is no other agenda. We may be crabby, but we're not hostile! Love your cycling commentary, btw. And glad to see you enjoy WW II history too.

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  13. No worries, Andrea. I don't think many things are worth arguing about in the first place. I'm all for dialogue and discussion, but when two people meet who have opposite view points and aren't willing to consider the possibility of change, then why do they even start-in on one another? I don't know. I also don't know what this country is going to do to meet unfunded pension obligations at all levels. Crazy.

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  14. To "Confused"...

    >How's come the Team Party is a viable organization but the Libertarian Party isn't?
    I wish I knew the answer to that one.

    >Arent they the same?
    Libertarians are fiscally conservative but **socially liberal**. For example, the Libertarian Party endorsed California Prop. 19 (the marijuana legalization measure). The Libertarians are pro-choice. They are also anti-war. I doubt they (err, WE) hold these things in common with many TPers.

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Pappillon welcomes your comments and encourages your participation. However, in commenting, you agree that you will not:1) Post material that infringes on the rights of any third party, including intellectual property, privacy or publicity rights. 2) Post material that is unlawful, obscene, defamatory, threatening, harassing, abusive, slanderous, hateful, or embarrassing to any other person or entity as determined by Pappillon in its sole discretion. 3) Impersonate another person.