In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote:
Americans of all ages, all conditions, and all dispositions constantly form associations,
and cited that desire/need as one of our country’s most outstanding qualities.
Australian journalist Taki Oldham, our guest tonight, takes an undercover trip to Tea Parties across the country and into the heart of the Tea Party movement to uncover the astroturfing of America. With Billionaires’ Tea Party, Oldham shows how political messaging is designed and shaped by corporate-funded think tanks and propagandists.
What is the agenda behind Koch, Murdoch, and the petroleum industry? How and why are they turning Americans’ desire to form associations for people’s betterment against all Americans? Billionaires’ Tea Party examines the ties between the Tea Party, Citizens for Prosperity, Americans For Prosperity and other front groups whose chant
and desire to disembowel regulatory systems and government agencies (including, oddly enough, the CIA) are dressed up as an empowered grassroots movement. Oldham shows the influence of the Tea Party in the fight against health care reform and in the 2010 elections, as well as in the climate change struggle. Most telling is a panel on the “blogosphere,” in which the speaker suggests that people spend a few minutes a day on Amazon and film sites giving poor rating to books and films with a liberal slant, while voting up those with a conservative angle. He tells this audience that he hasn’t necessarily read the books or seen the films, he just goes by the author or what he’s heard, to give either one star to the progressive material or five stars to the conservative. Wow.
Sadly for them, overall the Tea Partiers come across as either slimy, nutty and/or ignorant. One man holds a sign complaining about
while a woman literally froths at the mouth as she screams to the camera that Obama is like Hitler and wants to get rid of everyone who is white:
The Filipinos, the Irish…anyone who is not black, and he’s not even half black himself.
Fox News is pointed out to be a major force behind the Tea Party’s swell, and focuses on Glenn Beck. Since the making of Billionaire’s Tea Party–which features a segment where Beck eats a slice of watermelon while claiming that Obama’s energy policies are like the fruit, a thing green coating but with a big Red center–the race-baiting, rabble-rousing conspiracy-prone commentator has left Fox News and is struggling to maintain his pay-to-view Glenn Beck Television internet platform.
After the 2010 elections, the Tea Party’s influence has cooled down a bit, but the same propaganda methods used by Koch, et al. can still be turned up to affect this coming election–striking a warning bell that something is wrong, and then force-feeding people the notion of what that wrong is. Billionaires’ Tea Party shows us the dangers of astroturfing, the need to keep our eyes open and to carefully examine what we are being shoveled by self-interest groups, politicians, the media and even our friends and family, stressing the importance for critical thinking, rather than a herd mentality as we try to live up to the goodness de Tocqueville saw in this country’s desire to to form associations.
And with tomorrow being a primary Tuesday, please vote!