Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Where's the Astroturf?

When the Tea Party emerged in the winter of 2009 and staged numerous Tea Parties across the United States on April 15, 2009, the reaction of the liberal elite in the media and in politics was uniform.  It was contemptible and it was anyway, as Nancy Pelosi said, astroturf.

That is, the demonstrations were ginned up by the Republican Noise Machine and were not authentic grass-roots political activism.

Now that the Left has taken to the streets in the Occupy Wall Street movement, the Right is quick to discover a guiding hand in the movement from the Obama campaign and from labor unions.

Who is right?   Who knows?

All I can say is that the Tea Party activism was a surprise to me.  In the winter of 2009 I experienced the Republican/conservative coalition preparing to hunker down, ready to compromise as necessary with a popular new president and his agenda.  I think the "Republican establishment" was initially taken by surprise and confused by the Tea Party, and also worried that Tea Party extremism might compromise their ability to appeal to the moderate middle.

Yes, but what about the Koch brothers?  Yeah, well what about George Soros?

It makes good left-wing copy to conjure up a movement organized by the Koch brothers, but if you want reality, not a conspiracy theory, you have to recognize that the Koch brothers have been funding libertarian think tanks for decades, and were probably taken by surprise as much as anyone.  But once the Tea Party emerged, they were glad to help and organize.  Hey that's politics.

But what about the Occupy Wall Street crowd?  How close are they to the liberal establishment, and more significant, how close to the Obama campaign?

My guess is: a lot closer than anyone is letting on.  It's curious, isn't it, that the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations started just after the president committed to a class warfare campaign with a jobs bill that was designed to be indigestible to Republicans.

I'm not arguing for a conspiracy here.  Its just that the relations among the various groups on the left are a lot closer than on the right.  It starts right with the notion that on the left politics is everything, and that the whole point of politics is to mobilize the marginalized and raise their consciousness with organizing.   That's the point of the president's brief internship as a "community organizer."

The bigger question is whether all this street activism will work?  That remains to be seen.  On the right we tend to believe that left-wing street activism is all about the sacred rituals of the "over" part of the over-under coalition we know as the Democratic Party.  Our liberal friends see themselves as altruistic and idealistic leaders of the marginalized and the exploited.  They do not stop to ask whether their enlistment of the poor into their political army is not a mere cynical exploitation of the poor to prop up liberal power.

What does the American people want?  Ask me in December 2012.

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