The current line from the president, the Democrats in Congress, and the "state-run media" is that the apparent grass-roots opposition to the president's healthcare proposals is in fact "Astroturfing."
For those of you not yet up the minute on the latest political jargon, here is the definition from Wikipedia. It is a top-down political (or PR campaign) that is
seeking to create the impression of being spontaneous "grassroots" behavior, hence the reference to the artificial grass, AstroTurf.
The term was apparently invented by Texas US Senator Lloyd Bentsen.
Thus, our Democratic friends are presently trying to sell the notion (from the top) that the angry constituents barracking their Democratic representatives at local townhall meetings are not spontaneously organized from the grass roots, but in fact artificial "astroturf" organized from the top down.
(The Dems should know about astroturfing. Many of their activist organizations are organized and funded by the billionaire George Soros.)
So which is it? Well, my instinct is that the opposition started spontaneously, and was not initially organized by GOP leaders in Washington. But now, of course, the bigwigs have latched onto the grass-roots phenomenon and are flogging it for all they are worth.
Here's what I think is happening. A whole bunch of folks that weren't too politically motivated in the last few years and who got kinda disappointed by the Bush administration are now, all of a sudden, fighting mad.
Now why would that be?
It's simple. The Obama administration is taking dead aim at their pocket-books. All of a sudden we are looking at major tax increases.
When you really get down to it, politics in the United States is pretty simple. If the Democratic Party doesn't stand for more spending, what's the point of it? So the Democrats always stand for more spending. If the Republican Party doesn't stand for tax cuts, what's the point of it? So the Republicans are always strong on tax cutting. Elections are about the clash of these opposing notions.
What with the Reagan and Bush tax cuts, the average Republican-leaning voter hasn't felt that they had a dog in the race recently. Taxes were reasonable, house prices were going up, jobs were plentiful. They were relaxed about a little increased spending. Why not? We could afford it.
But now things have changed. Not only is the economy in trouble, stocks and house prices in the tank, but the Democrats are proposing tax increases to sustain their bloated patronage state.
That is going to hurt a lot of people, and re-inject rage and energy into Republican Party politics.
You can call it "grass-roots" or you can call it "astroturf." Take your pick. It is still real, and you ain't seen nothing yet.