As·tro·Turf // (ās’trō-tûrf’)
2) Describes formal political, advertising, or public relations campaigns seeking to create the impression of being spontaneous “grassroots” behavior, hence the reference to the artificial grass.
Once upon a time, you were able to tell the underdogs apart from The Man. The underdogs were the disenfranchised, the downtrodden, the working and jobless poor; The Man was the douchebag at the gold course who earned 400 times what you did by exploiting underdogs. The underdogs fought the system; The Man was the system. The underdogs organized grassroots campaigns to fight the system; The Man spent millions of corporate dollars in ad campaigns on television and in print to keep you misinformed. The underdogs went door to door; the Man sent you glossy, professionally designed campaign flyers. The point of a grassroots campaign was that it was the people getting directly involved in politics to affect social change; the point of Astroturfing is to gain your sympathies by making you think they’re a grassroots campaign and not a corporate-sponsored propaganda being staged by – you guessed it – The Man.
But The Man has far too much at stake to let the people really speak for themselves. That’s why they only pick the cream of the crop, by which I mean they find the biggest idiots they can and put them on the front lines to speak on their behalf. This health care reform bill has brought the lunatics out in a big way – conspiracy nuts, Ditto-heads, racists, gun nuts, and other ignoramuses (sometimes they’re all one and the same). They gather ignorant fucks from around the country to become their foot soldiers, lobbying on behalf of the very corporations trying to ensure that the public’s needs come second to their own; these dupes protest against their own self-interest. What you thought were people protesting the public option were actually unwitting representatives of big insurance companies – bought and paid for with their (our) dollars.
When you have to lie to people to get your agenda pushed through, you demonstrate that your agenda will not stand on its own merits. Astroturfing is dishonest to its core, but the protesters don’t seem to know that. It is a form of lying to the public because it’s corporations pretending that they ARE the public. For that, corporations who astroturf automatically lose the moral high ground; they have no right to pretend they speak for us when they spend so much money trying to screw us. It’s like greenwashing, in that rather than doing something in the public’s interest, they are simply making it seem as if they are. Perhaps instead of being concerned about how they look, they ought to be concerned about how they act.
Astroturf is a good product; when you can’t play on grass because the weather in your home state is inhospitable to grass, you get Astroturf. You can play on it year round and doesn’t require the environmentally unfriendly practice of having to water 6,396 square feet of it every couple days. It looks greener, too. But some of the things that make Astroturf great are the same things that make astroturfing bad. It’s fake, synthetic, plastic, the product of a corporation and not of nature. Astroturf may look greener, but it will never replicate the natural variety, color, and texture, of real grass.
Astroturfing has a long history; it didn’t start with town halls and it won’t stop there either. Oil companies are doing it, too…
Check out Maddow’s exposee on Recess Rally (the health care reform protesters)
…and another one. God Bless Rachel Maddow for being the only one calling out these dickwads and naming names.