Monday, April 13, 2009

The Grassroots Tea Party Revolt

Paul Krugman's always an interesting character on the political left. As I've noted a few times here, throughout the market downturn, he's been the biggest economic fearmonger in American politics (for example, see Krugman, "What Obama Must Do: A Letter to the New President"). The scale of Krugman's proposed big-government interventionism is truly breathtaking. It's thus no wonder why he's a rock star to the hardline secular collectivists of the extreme left-wing of the Democratic Party.

Krugman's latest column at the New York Times goes after the conservative tea party movement. The piece is worth a good read as an indication of how truly clueless leftists are about what's really brewing among everyday Americans today. Beyond the boilerplate attacks on conservatives as "crazy people," Krugman's conspiratorial view of the Tea Party movement is worth highlighting: " ... it turns out that the tea parties don’t represent a spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment. They’re AstroTurf (fake grass roots) events, manufactured by the usual suspects ... "

Man, that is some kind of denialism! Krugman's "AstroTurfing" is on par with Jane Hamsher's circus performance last weekend, where
she made a fool of herself claiming that Fox News was orchestrating the nationwide Tea Party revolt - and that's on top of the 12 people who showed up for Hamsher's Washington "New Way Forward" demonstration. Krugman and Hamsher are no different from the idiot left-wing activists declaring that "The typical American is not a good citizen."

I tell you what: In my experience of 25 years of political participation and scholarship in political science, I can't really recall quite the phenomenon as this buildup for
the April 15th Nationwide Tax Day Tea Party Rallies. Oh sure, Fox News has been cheerleading from the sidelines, but whatever influence the Fox personalities have had is nothing compared to the genuine outpouring of grassroots patriotism that we're seeing today. This is the best I've felt about conservative politics since the Democrats won power last November.

For a flavor of what I'm taking about, check out this website I found yesterday, "
The New Tea Party and Revolution." The front page of the site lists hundreds of scheduled Tea Party events all around the country. I counted at least 150 and that's before I scrolled even halfway down. This is the kind of interest and spontaneity that cannot be manufactured by a few conservative cable TV shock jocks. This is the Real McCoy! It's history in the making!

According to Glenn Reynolds, who discusses the grassroots nature of the movement in
an essay today at the New York Post:
These aren't the usual semiprofessional protesters who attend antiwar and pro-union marches. These are people with real jobs; most have never attended a protest march before. They represent a kind of energy that our politics hasn't seen lately, and an influx of new activists.
And I think this is what's so frightening to those on the political left. As William Jacobson notes in his post today:

The disparate groups involved, the great variation from location-to-location, and the sometimes disorganized nature of the protests demonstrate the genuine nature of the movement. The fact that some have lent a promotional hand doesn't take away from this. The mainstream media practically elected Obama through its over-the-top cheerleading coverage and refusal to ask hard questions. And Media Matters and other liberal organizations are extremely well funded in their efforts, far more so than the Tea Party movement. Nothing any conservative organization is doing to help the Tea Parties even comes close.
But check out the description of the events at "Michigan Taxes Too Much":

There are many reasons why millions of Americans will take to the streets on April 15....

If you want to know more about us, look to the national figures, personalities and famous people who [are] leaders and organizers of this protest. Unfortunately, you won’t find any famous, rich or recognizable people. They don’t exist. Instead you will find the “Joe, the plumbers” and the millions of no-name people who are indeed, mad as hell.

Organizers are the guy who lives around the corner and you didn’t even know his name before. They are the secretaries, computer technicians, clerks, businessmen, salesmen and any other occupation you can think of. There are also retired people who remember what this country once stood for.

Notice the speakers are not politicians. In fact, party representatives and elected officials offering to take the podium at most tea parties are being rejected. Instead, the everyday Joe’s of this world will speak. There will be no teleprompter with carefully worded speeches that don’t say anything or words chosen to be interpreted differently by different groups.

Probably the best explanation for Krugman and Hamsher's frustration is pure jealousy, even panic. Leftists were the opposition for the last eight years. They had their run at power. What's interesting to me is that today's grassroots activism is not particularly partisan. Over and over again, on blogs and message boards, I see folks saying "we are not political." Many folks confess that this is the first time they've gotten involved politically. And that has to be the most frightening thing about this for the secular collectivists on the left. If you're a Democratic big-government backer of the current administration, a real movement of real people modeling themselves on the "Spirit of 1776" is just something that's too much to believe.

I can't wait for Wednesday, April 15th!


science fiction writer said...

The reaction of Krugman, and others, to this grass roots movement is peculiar, especially since they touted the glory of the left’s grass root movement that elected Obama.

There is a tendency of Krugman, and his think-alikes, to engage in what bears the attributes of what we once called disinformation (propaganda). It’s informative that house Intelligence Committee (1980) noted “…a relatively high percentage of secret agents are journalists.” This doesn’t imply that Krugman and company are secret agents. Nevertheless, they earn the label of agent in some context. Agents of what is difficult to determine, and that’s what is bothersome.

I Want To Set It Straight said...

I'll be there Tea in hand!

AmPowerBlog said...

Nice comments, Rick. These "agents of change" can't believe it when the other side's got it going!

AmPowerBlog said...

Thanks "Here to Say It"!

Tim said...

Hey, more power to you I say. No, I won't be participating because I think it's lame in the extreme, but I respect the right to protest in any way shape and form!

Grass roots, or weeds? We shall see!

AmPowerBlog said...

"I think it's lame in the extreme..."

Typical comment from you, Tim...

Tim said...

Donald, so is your comment of the group in Pittsburgh. The whitest, rightest group photo I have ever seen...I'm glad it warms your heart though.

That, simply, is not the America I know and love.

AmPowerBlog said...

"That, simply, is not the America I know and love."

You don't love white Americans for some reason? Does that include your white family. Talk about self-loathing, Tim...

smitty1e said...

I'll be at the US Treasury on Wednesday. Let me know when you're in the DC area for a conference or whatever.

Tim said...

Donald. Again you miss all subtlety.

The America I love simply embraces all types, not just overweight, white, middle-age Americans. Which is all I see in the Pittsburgh photo.

Which was all I saw during the campaign, the ones who were recorded on video asking for Obama's head.

Like I said, knock yourself out with your "tea party." And don't forget to hold your pinky out. Good form and all.

JSF said...


As someone who used to be an active member of the Left (until mid summer 1992), I have noticed that the press and the national Democrats have aligned with each other.

They don't mind protests against a Republican Administration, but during a Democrat administration?

Both press, and left partisans (one and the same) huff and puff trying to deny both the humanity and the first amendment rights of the opposition.

I will accept the Left's critics about us if it can be proven they gave the benefit of the doubt to President Bush between 2003-2008.

Everyone who complains about the tea parties are the same ones who called President Bush a "fascist," a "dictator," or even a "nazi,"

I was born on the day of the First American tea party (missed it by 200 years), why does the Left find Dissent so wrong?

Dan Nexon said...

1) I'll be surprised if the numbers match a large Obama rally.

2) There's something here rather reminiscent of the Howard Dean campaign, when his supporters confused politically-active-internet-support for significant numbers in the "real" political world.

3) That being said, Dean didn't have a news channel watched by millions of people making a deliberate attempt to reduce collective-action barriers by, among other things, pointing its viewers to where they can find a "Tea Party." (What Donald calls "Cheering from the Sidelines") So maybe this will break a million... or roughly 3x the number of people who voted for Obama in my county.

But I'm all for political activism and engagement. So best of luck.

AmPowerBlog said...

Dan: That's silly. This is more than anything with Howard Dean. He was a presidential candidate, for goodness sakes. He was supposed to build up support. This is genuinely spontaneous, from what I'm seeing.

But thanks for the encouragement!

dave in boca said...

I'm going to the W. Palm Beach event at the County Courthouse at 4PM. I expect a bunch of lefty loonies will try to disrupt the proceedings, which in any event will be downplayed or ignored by the dead-tree locals like the PBPost & Sun-Sentinel, both ardently socialist and AGW-nuttiness, and both want beach sand as part of the stimulus package!

d.eris said...

Donald, two quick points:
1) the global anti-war protests held before the Iraq war in February 2003 were the result of grassroots organizing in countries all over the world who then coordinated the movement via the world social forum. This is "quite a phenomenon." This effort is undervalued by many on the right and not properly understood by many on the left.

2) the Tea Party protests did not materialize out of nowhere. From what I can tell, I think the efforts of many well organized Ron Paul supporters from the campaign for liberty as well as the effect of third party activists (Libertarians) have not been appreciated by the grassroots or the mainstream media.

AmPowerBlog said...

Good for you, Dave!

miles said...

I think the Tea Party approach is a good first step for the GOP to re-solidify its base voters, regroup, then reload for the next election.

Ultimately, these tea parties will be as repulsively partisan as anything left-wing nuts have and will come up with, which is precisely the purpose of these events in the first place.

Fighting fire with fire is politically effective, though honestly I'm starting to wonder if these extreme exercises in ideological brinkmanship are really that good for democracy -_-

Dan Nexon said...

Donald: my comparison concerns confusion over the depth of support and enthusiasm for the "movement," not the process by which it emerged.

The problem here is that left-wing bloggers want to call this "astroturf" while right-wing bloggers want to call it a spontaneous grass-roots movement. As if those are the only choices. There are clearly grass-roots elements to the protests. There is, equally clearly, a lot of money and resources being put into the movement from elements that are not grass-roots.

So we get your interpretation of Fox "cheering from the sidelines," which is a weird way to describe the kind of active assistance being offered by the channel, and the Yglesias/Firedoglake line about how this is all just orchestrated by elites.

Both dynamics are in play, which is pretty typical for collective mobilization on any serious scale.

PS: my understanding is that the Dean campaign got overtaken by a wave of support, but, as I indicated above, this is besides the point.

Dan Nexon said...

Hmm. Looks like I've got an extra paragraph in there.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure you understand what astroturfing is and why its regarded so derisively by the liberals.

You can't sponsor a grassroot movement -- or it stops being a grassroot (bottom up) movement and starts becoming an astroturf (top down imitating a bottom up) movement.

The whole point of grassroots is that so many people feel so powerfully about a subject that they don't need organization, advertising, or funding to produce a protest. Anyone can fund a protest. Not every cause will get people showing up with 24 hours notice based on an email sent by a friend.

Dennis said...

Always amazed when those on the Left start losing the debate they invariably turn to racism. How can anyone tell what the make up of the tea parties are by just a couple of pictures?
One worries about the mind that ignores the substance of protests and starts counting the race of the people who attend.
Actually, the tea party protest began with a couple of mothers in Washington state. The Ron Paul canard is just that, a way to dismiss a true grassroots movement.
The sad part is when some Republicans try to make it about them when there are plenty of Independents, Libertarians and true Democrats who are involved because they see the damage that this administration is going to create for this country.

Average American said...

Man, the lefties sure do get their panties in a wad when the silent majority decides to speak, don't they! This is not a dem vs rep issue. When NObama and the clowns he surrounded himself with get the dangerous notion that they can spend the country out of this economic disaster, we have to tell them that we don't believe it, and WE DO NOT LIKE IT! They and their predecessors have already spent our money and our childrens money. We are trying to stop them from spending our great great grandchildrens money. THAT is why only the most foolish of the leftards are so against it and SO afraid of the silent majority having their say for a change!

AmPowerBlog said...

Fair enough, Dan ...

I'm leaning more on the grassroots side, mainly because I think we'd have just as large an event on Wednesday sans Fox boosterism - or nearly as large, be that as it may.

Anonymous said...

I love the trolls that hit everyone of these posts around the net to debase the movement....guess what? won't work! WE are R's, I's, D's who are SICK to DEATH of the bailouts to private companies SICK of the TAXES that pay these private companies money. This idiot leftist who said big business was so awful over the last 8 years have obviously LOST their appetite for being FOR the POOR and against the bad WE will take over. You all just sit there and get fat and ugly!


denise said...

I attended the Orlando Tea Party in March. There were 4-6,000 people there depending on who was counting. We made our own signs. Fox News had nothing to do with it. I have never been to a 'protest' before in my whole life. I went with a friend and we went because we think it is important to express our concern over the direction this country is taking. It is something we can do;we're teachers and moms (I'm a Grandma and she hopes to be soon )and we can't get away easily = we aren't heading to Washington and lobbying anyone. We aren't rich so can't donate a lot of money to any cause. We can show our support by taking the time to attend. It was on a Saturday, so we could go. The Tea Parties on Wed. - tax day - are harder for working folks to make. I will be teaching that day at that time so won't be there. I will be there in spirit however. I am about as Grassroots as you can get. I am hoping our representatives in Congress will start paying attention even if the Media won't.

Anonymous said...

I had a training class last week, and everyone in the class just wanted to talk about politics and they were all conservative. When has that ever happened? The liberals just don't know how to take people who actually have principles driving their political choices. They just can't comprehend it. A lot of us are ready to go to Washington in mass. How about July 4th - Independence Day.

Reaganite Republican Resistance said...

It’s not out-of-the-question that the 2009 Tea Party participants could someday be regarded by history as patriots who made a difference- same as 1773. This sort of public outrage might be just what’s needed to break through the media’s manufactured reality.

And you can believe that Obama and the left are plenty scared of the TEA party movement- how else to explain the dubious timing of his "everything is under control" speech on the economy, and (on the same day before the protests) the DHS report warning of "right-wing" radicals and their propensity to violence?

Barack Obama is rapidly liquidating everything that made this country great… and needs to be put back-on-his-heels with a major embarrassment that puts an end to the myth that everybody just loves Barack and his wacked-out agenda… because millions of us DON’T.

Anonymous said...

Come on get real you stupid republicans. You idiots are why or country is where it is . pull your head out.

LOL said...

Tea Party Photos:

Baroccoli Obamination

Unknown said...

So far I am hearing from the liberal media that the tea party thing is just a bunch of confused right wing people that just don't understand how much the Obama administration is going to help them.
Good!, let them continue thinking that. When a million people show up in Washington DC for the July 4th Tea Party wont they be surprised!

A Real American said...

Grassroots? LMAO You conservatives crack me up...keep talking about your little tea parties while the GOP drifts closer and closer to irrelevance. The sooner that happens, the sooner we can become the greatest country in the world again.

Unknown said...

Dear Real American:
You may be right. This Tea Party movement may just push the GOP into irrelevance. It may also push the Democrat party into irrelevance. It is becoming painfully obvious that the Democrats are about to push this country into debt so far that sun will burn out before it is paid for.
We may be seeing the birth of a viable third party. Something moderately conservative but without the baggage of a giant party machine.
America is still the greatest country on the planet but the ultra-liberal Democrats in charge are determined to beat America down until she is even with all the other nations.

BikeCommuter said...

Where were the tea parties against Iraq war spending?

A $Trillion down the drain paying off defense contractors, K Street lobbyists & killing mostly civilians in another country & all the wingnuts can complain about is domestic spending?

Where were the tea parties when your patron saint Dick Cheney said "Deficits don't matter"?


Unknown said...

Iraq war spending was/is a tiny fraction of what Obama is spending.
Plus we all know that the Iraq spending will taper off eventually. What Obama has done so far is only a tiny fraction of what he wants to spend and that will be about 100 times what was spent on the Iraq war.
If you taxed everyone at 100% it would take 20 years to pay for what Obama will spend.
The tea party people understand that there aren't enough rich people to tax to pay for all this so sooner rather than later the taxes will go up for everyone so that Obama can keep spending and spending.

Unknown said...

Ok, maybe this thread is getting out of date but not for me.
If anyone knows of a better place to comment, let me know.

So for all you Obama worshipers that think he can make no mistakes because anything is better than Bush...
Please note the massive amount of government spending that is going on yet the economy is not recovering. Why is this?
It's because the money is being spent on education, health care, food stamps, and unemployment. Almost none of the money is being used to create jobs. WTF!!!
Also, I haven't seen any tax cut in my paycheck, WTF again!!!
I get laid off, frantically look for a job, find one, sell my house, move across the country for a lateral job move and now am worried about my current employer running out of money. WTF!!!!!
Hell yes I am pissed at what Obama is not doing!
He should be standing up and telling everyone that America is a great nation and if we all work together we can fix what is wrong. Instead, he tells us we are a flawed nation that needs to copy what Europe is doing so that the world likes us again.
But wait....
Most EU nations just had elections and the results were decisively right leaning. Socialism is failing the EU, it will fail in America as well.
You better believe I am going to the biggest Tea Party Rally I get to on July 4th, 2009!!!

Wiley said...

For those that need a little inspiration here is a video on YouTube that talks about Thomas Jefferson and what he though about government. It is amazing how not much has change in 230 years.

If you like it pass it on.

Daren said...

The March on Washington has concluded, and we are all exhausted, but it’s imperative that we keep telling the stories, and sharing the images, and connecting the people who came from all 50 states to petition their government. After all, we all worked so hard to send the message to our elected officials: “Silent No More.”


Jimmy Nusem said...

Anybody hear about this new group that calls themselves the 2/3rds party. Apparently this group of left-wing commis have come out in response to our movement. What a joke..It seems to me, some people are getting a little affraid about 2012.

Barry MacMurray said...

Gandhi was right when he said; "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." The Tea Party movement is in stage three, ready to enter stage four this November.

Anonymous said...

A question for all you Tea Party people? What would Jesus have done? He said "These commandments I give to you but the greatest of these is charity" President Obama showed real charity to his fellow Americans with his health care bill. Your tactics remind me of Hitler's brownshirts in the 1940's. i cannot understand how people who profess to be Christian are acting in this way.

Anonymous said...

My message to the tea party: "America, love it or leave it." Our country is a shared enterprise. If you don't want to pay taxes, I invite you all to leave and go to the low-tax, third world country of your choice where you can have all the freedom from modernity you want.

Dave said...

What seems to have Democrats confused is that they think this is somehow just a Republican orchestrated attack on Obama. The reality is that this is driven more by a growing outrage over our ever expanding government (to which both Democrats and Republicans have contributed). If we want to really scale back big government, we need to push reforms like the "read the bills" act promoted by

Anonymous said...

Your against big government and the intrusion of government into our personal lives, telling us how to live. So how could one support the new "Your papers, please" law in Arizona, which equates to the bolstering of big government into the personal lives of anyone who looks like an illegal immigrant?

And what does an illegal immigrant look like? Do they look like me? I'm brown, with an American birth certificate.

Unknown said...

It's not "Your papers Please"
Under the current system, an illegal can commit almost any crime from vandalism to murder and the police can not ask for documentation. In fact, many illegals are convicted of major crimes and are still not deported.
Current legal precedent actually requires police to ignore immigration law. Arizona just wants to correct this.

Joseph Green said...

The economy's bad, and big changes are happening fast. You're right to be concerned.

But some people make their living by giving a voice to this fear. They make a better living if the voice is loud and angry. Right?

We all need to avoid being manipulated by these people. It's soooo satisfying to feel angry and self-righteous.... but don't be led by the nose.

"all comments must be approved by the blog author"? So, how open is this discussion?

Lindsay Morris said...

Insightful article by Thomas Frank: Why do people vote against their own interests?


"...the Right often wins the argument even when the Left is confident that it has the facts on its side. "

"...the voters' preference for emotional engagement over reasonable argument has allowed the Republican Party to blind them to their own real interests. "

Anonymous said...

Its amazing that You Tea Partiers just spew innacuracies and outright lies and no one calls you on it. This movement is like all the dumbest people are rising up and banding together and think they are important because there are ALOT of them. From what I see tea partiers have no solutions they just whine and complain . When you ask them what they would do they say "Take America Back" as if that means something . Kinda like Sarah (hero of the stupid) Palin. You morons are pathetic albeit Dangerous.

improvingourworld said...

Perhaps beyond parties and politics, we should also be concerned about the much bigger picture...

Do we need a Referendum For A New Democracy?

Are you concerned about the future of democracy? Do you feel democracy is under attack by extreme greed in countries around the world? Are you sick and tired of: living in fear, corporate greed, growing police state, government for the rich, working more but having less?

Can we use both elections and random selection (in the way we select government officials) to rid democracy of undue influence by extreme wealth and wealth-dominated mass media campaigns?

The world's first democracy (Athenian democracy, 600 B.C.) used both elections and random selection. Even Aristotle (the cofounder of Western thought) promoted the use random selection as the best way to protect democracy. The idea of randomly selecting (after screening) juries remains from Athenian democracy, but not randomly selecting (after screening) government officials. Why is it used only for individual justice and not also for social justice? Who wins from that? ...the extremely wealthy?

What is the best way to combine elections and random selection to protect democracy in today's world? Can we use elections as the way to screen candidates, and random selection as the way to do the final selection? Who wins from that? ...the people?

Gustaf Nordenskiold, swe said...

Destroy heterosexual values, politics, religions, trading. Make queertheory the dominant rule of the world, we the gay brotherhod are your leaders - tell that to your kids. Force heteros to tell their kids about us - have sex in front of them. Have sex in public spaces, force them to se us - thats our democratic right. Young boys should know that their anus is made for sex.There is no god only the queer-theory, help the homosexuals to reach power within the religions and to put down religious dominans. Jesus, mohammed, god and the prophet is gay and sodomistic - they like dogs ;-). Buy services and products from the gay brotherhod only. Concentrate the money (power) to the gay network, drain heterosexual economy - never buy from a heterosexual man. Eradicate heterosexuals economicaly an socialy - have no contacts and business with them. If someone ask about this, say no in thousends different ways - we dont want to inform the heterosexual enemy. Spred this word to political correct individs an other gays. Dont feel sad, you see, there is no god only supreme gay power. Never feel love to others than gay. If you are gay study journalism - work with media, by controlling media we can indoctrinate the big mass of people. They who talk well about us should have benefits (for now) from the gay brotherhod, we bribe them! (if you ask me, I say - no, it wasnt me, its my enemy). If you are gay you know what this is otherwise its probably a spam to forget next minute. Act like a coward - act like a homosexual, be proud of it. Never admit our secret methods. Dont try to track me Ive got several IP`s. Pay me a visit on the opening at Galerie NeC, friday 20 january in Paris.

-blessed holy socks, the non-perishable-zealot said...

Go, Tea-Party-Hardy, go!!! No one can stop U.S.!!! If the super-wealthy-33 think they have control, they're sadly MissGuided. God bless you and all who stand for what the Revolutionary War was fought against. Live free or DIE. PS See 'peace-de-resistance' first. Thank you. And as Ghandi once sed, 'Let's kick some ass' --- The funny thing is, now I’m on BIG, BAD Janet’s list of bloody terrorists even though I’m a head-injured-wetard for speak’n the TRUTH. Most of U.S. are controlled, conformed, walking ‘the Wall’ to our demise: rise above, America. Think summore past the vastly impotent, world government; don’t do the suicidal, whorizontal reality; and please don’t get played like a HAARP. Hope you got something outta this I-candy: Truth Shall Set You Free.