19 August 2009


Ryan Sager | Neuroworld | Keep Off the Astroturf:

With the “public option” part of President Obama’s health care reform plan looking dead in the water, many of its supporters are taking issue with the legitimacy of its opposition. “We call it ‘Astroturf,’ ” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said of the protesters at town-hall meetings. “It’s not really a grass-roots movement.”

What exactly is Astroturf supposed to mean? Typically, that, in the absence of widespread support for a position, some unseen entity manufactures the appearance of it. But is that really what’s happening here?

Here’s a rule: Organizing isn’t cheating. Doing everything in your power to get your people to show up is basic politics. If they believe what they’re saying, no matter who helped organize them, they’re citizens and activists. The language at the town halls may get ugly and rough. But it’s not Astroturf.
Thank you, Sager. Thank you.

I've had to add "astroturf" to the list of political words that convey no information whatsoever, right alongside "spin," "elitist," and "swiftboating." It's one of the things that Red Team and Blue Team both do all the time that's righteous when they're doing it and sinister when the other guys are doing it. How is what the Vast Rightwing Conspiracy is accused of doing at townhalls any different than what the SEIU is doing? (Via Matt Johnson).

Here's Coyote Blog on all of the other things that Red Team and Blue Team that make them look pretty damn similar from where we sit on our little patch of libertarian ideological wilderness. (To address his footnote, as of 2000 my school system was still using civics textbooks that describes the ideological space as running in one dimension between communism and fascism. One day out of boredom I got into a doozy of an argument with my civics teacher about how that continuum ought to loop around into a circle. She was a sweet lady, but also a card carrying communist (no joke, she actually had a card), so that made for an interesting class period.)

So anyway, I'm pretty psyched that the current iteration of ObamaCare looks dead in the water. I wish it didn't get torpedoed largely by people whose passions outweighed their information by several orders of magnitude, but that's the sad nature of Democracy most of the time. I'm also particularly concerned that one of the lessons that politicians are going to learn is that you can not, under any circumstances, look like you might be meddling with Medicare. That's not going to be good for us in the long run, where I define "us" as "anyone under 50."

1 comment:

  1. Presumably, the complaint is that these community protests are being organized by someone - possibly even someone who is being paid to do it - rather than being strictly spontaneous. A few short months ago a “community organizer” was a hallowed profession among those doing the complaining today.