Our Democratic friends were very quick to brush off the Tea Party movement as "astroturf," which is liberal-speak for a movement that pretends to be grass-roots but is instead manipulated by string pullers from on high.
Liberal Harvard professor Theda Skocpol has written about this in Diminshed Democracy. She finds that the US used to have lots of membership associations that were represented by an elite cadre in Washington. Today’s activist groups, especially on the liberal side, are typically cadre with few members.
But it’s pretty clear that the Tea Party movement is not a fake movement pretending to be grass roots, like, e.g., ACORN. Here’s an article in the Wausau Daily Herald by Meg Ellefson, organizer of a Tea Party in Wausau, Wisconsin. She makes it all perfectly clear.
I organized the Wausau Tea Party in about two weeks, with donated goods and services from individuals and small business owners... I’m just a regular mom who lives in Rib Mountain, who is fed up with our government and motivated to plan a tea party. I am not involved in Wisconsin politics, nor have I ever been affiliated with any candidate’s campaign in Wisconsin.
Ellefson was pretty clear about her concerns:
Wisconsin tax payers are fed up with government’s out-of-control spending and excessive taxation without representation.
This spring our Democratic friends are clearly engaged upon a massive dash to implement their agenda before anyone can wake up and oppose it. Hugh Hewitt today writes about the secret talks to develop the Democratic health reform plan.
I have the feeling that the Democrats are making a strategic mistake. The rush to push things through and make them a fait accompli before opposition can develop is telling. It tells us that they know that their ideas are really not popular.
Maybe their strategy is right. Maybe thet can cram their agenda down our throats, and keep it there. But maybe they will provoke instead a movement of rejection that will change the face of politics in America.