Some conservatives are desperately trying to besmirch the ever growing “Occupy Wall Street Movement” as something other than a grass roots movement and some have gone so far as to say that America’s newest grass roots movement is trying to make themselves look “as grassroots as the tea party.” Moreover, they’re saying that the “Occupy” movement has co-opted the Tea Party slogan “take back our country.” There’s more than one fallacy contained in this analysis, lets take a look.
First, the phrase “take our country back” predates the Tea Party movement by several years. I recall it being used by Republicans who wanted to retake the White House from Bill Clinton on the theory that by having won a plurality, his presidency was somehow not quite legitimate. Odd but one of the few Tea Party candidate’s who won a senate seat in 2010, Marco Rubio of Florida, won by a plurality as well. The phrase was used yet again by Democrats in the 2004 elections as they were enraged by the fact that George Bush was handed the 2000 election by the Supreme Court. Hence there is no way that the phrase “take back our country” is generically a Tea Party creation.
As far as the Tea Party movement being genuinely grass roots, well by now it’s a well known fact that the “movement” has been buoyed up by the money of rich conservatives, PACs and other conservative organizations. Jane Mayer, of the New Yorker in an article called “Covert Operations detailed the support given to the Tea Party movement by the billionaire Koch Brothers. To wit: “A few weeks after the Lincoln Center gala, the advocacy wing of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation—an organization that David Koch started, in 2004—held a different kind of gathering…Five hundred people attended the summit, which served, in part, as a training session for Tea Party activists in Texas…At the lectern in Austin, however, Peggy Venable—a longtime political operative who draws a salary from Americans for Prosperity, and who has worked for Koch-funded political groups since 1994—spoke less warily. “We love what the Tea Parties are doing, because that’s how we’re going to take back America!” she declared, as the crowd cheered. In a subsequent interview, she described herself as an early member of the movement, joking, “I was part of the Tea Party before it was cool!” She explained that the role of Americans for Prosperity was to help “educate” Tea Party activists on policy details, and to give them “next-step training” after their rallies, so that their political energy could be channeled “more effectively.” And she noted that Americans for Prosperity had provided Tea Party activists with lists of elected officials to target. She said of the Koch’s, “They’re certainly our people. David’s the chairman of our board. I’ve certainly met with them, and I’m very appreciative of what they do.” Beyond the Koch Brother’s there’s the millions of dollars funneled into the “movement” by Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks. Then there’s the Tea Party Express and various and sundry other groups. By now all of this is established fact and undeniable as well.
Lastly, if the Tea Party is such a viable grass roots organization then why does it have such low favorability ratings? In April of this year in an article titled “The Fading Allure of the Tea Party Movement” I detailed how the “movement’s” favorability ratings had fallen to the levels of the two political party’s. Moreover, this decline was attributable to the fall off in support among those earning less than $50,000.00 per year, a threshold that represents roughly the mid point in American incomes. Thus it’s no surprise that the Tea Party continues to have low favorability ratings as per PollingReport.com which shows as of September of 2011 some polls show the Tea Party movement polling its lowest favorable and highest unfavorable ratings of all time or darn close to it. When asked “do you consider yourself part of the Tea Party movement only 12 percent of respondents answered yes and when asked if they supported the movement the number is a low 25 percent. Thus even if the Tea Party movement can legitimately be considered grass roots, big money donors aside, it’s obvious that most of that grass has wilted or died off all together. I have asked many of my friends on the right to show me something that contradicts these findings and I have yet to see anything from a legitimate source that shows the Tea Party ascendant.
Covert Operations by Jane Mayer; http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer#ixzz1aQCFuZAK
The Fading Allure of the Tea Party Movement; http://open.salon.com/blog/steven_j_gulitti/2011/04/23/the_fading_allure_of_the_tea_party_movement
PollingReport.com: Politics – Tea Party; http://www.pollingreport.com/politics.htm