The Tea Party in Shambles: Grassroots vs. Astroturf

The day after Labor Day, just as campaign season was entering its final frenzy, FreedomWorks, the Washington-based tea party organization, went into free fall.

Richard K. Armey, the group’s chairman and a former House majority leader, walked into the group’s Capitol Hill offices with his wife, Susan, and an aide holstering a handgun at his waist. The aim was to seize control of the group and expel Armey’s enemies: The gun-wielding assistant escorted FreedomWorks’ top two employees off the premises, while Armey suspended several others who broke down in sobs at the news.

The coup lasted all of six days. By Sept. 10, Armey was gone — with a promise of $8 million — and the five ousted employees were back. The force behind their return was Richard J. Stephenson, a reclusive Illinois millionaire who has exerted increasing control over one of Washington’s most influential conservative grass-roots organizations.

Stephenson, the founder of the for-profit Cancer Treatment Centers of America and a director on the FreedomWorks board, agreed to commit $400,000 per year over 20 years in exchange for Armey’s agreement to leave the group.

The episode illustrates the growing role of wealthy donors in swaying the direction of FreedomWorks and other political groups, which increasingly rely on unlimited contributions from corporations and financiers for their financial livelihood. Such gifts are often sent through corporate shells or nonprofit groups that do not have to disclose their donors, making it impossible for the public to know who is funding them.

FreedomWorks tea party group nearly falls apart in fight between old and new guard

It is the last sentence in the above quote from the Washington Post article that says it all.

It is hard to read these articles, this one and one recently in the NYTimes, about the Tea Party, without laughing out loud.

The Tea Party was NEVER a real grassroots movement. The Tea Party was an ASTROTURF movement. A totally artifical fake grassroots movement, almost exclusively funded by the Koch brothers and other right wing individuals and groups, designed to continue the previously successful campaign of misleading, disinforming, and getting the votes of the ignorant masses, and persuading them to give into their fears and militant ignorance, and continue to vote against their own interests. It was NEVER an honest grassroots movement.

How the authors write articles about it without acknowledging this simple fact is just astonishing, but also revealing as to how far the collapse into insignificance the mainstream American press has fallen, as it has become just one more tool in the hands of the corporate oligarchy for spreading disinformation and FUD on behalf of the 1%.


Author: Ron