Friday, April 17, 2009

Astroturfing Zazzle - Graphic evidence of Faux Populism

As you may gather from reading this, my post took a sharp turn midway through, when I went looking for graphics to illustrate what I was going to say. I'll let it stand as it is, because I think the deadly serious effort being made to make this all seem Like A Very Serious Grassroot Movement and not a last ditch hail-mary attempt to keep the US from returning to relatively civilized, Centrist politics is worth noting in both contexts.

It's difficult to address this issue at all without quoting Jon Stewart. Or better yet, embedding a clip. There's simply no way to satirize these people. They go right over the top all by themselves.
The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Nationwide Tax Protests
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

(In Canada, go here)

The fun starts at about 2:50 if you are pressed for moments.

It's terribly easy to simply dismiss the Teabaggers as an inherently ridiculous movement with a transparently naked appeal to nativist prejudices and suspicions of brown people and "freethinkers."

I am particularly struck by the frequent quotation of "No Taxation Without Representation." Was there not an election? Are there not democratically elected representatives from every state in Washington - with the temporary exception of Minnesota? Or does it only count when there is a "democratically elected" Republican?

To suggest that a person is not represented in Washington simply because their fellow citizens preferred a slightly less reactionary representative betrays a sad ignorance of civics and the philosophy of government. No politician, of any stripe, can afford to neglect their constituents - whatever their preferred party. There are limits, however. Few politicians are foolish enough to pander to outright sedition, unless they see no other path to power. Sadly, there are always a few with an ambition to become the biggest frog in a smaller pond. Politics is the art of the possible, within the bounds of the Constitutionally permissible.

Now, Texas may well claim they have a conditional escape clause, and they may well be legally correct - but the Secessionist movement is not limited to Texas, and many advocates are not shy about speech that amounts to sedition.

Now, others are pointing out the very obvious financial and special interest backing of the Teaparty Movement, for instance by underlining how much coverage Fox News is giving it at the expense of, oh, immigration, same sex marriage and white slavery. One might think there is some agenda behind this movement.

Well, I'm not an accountant; I'm a visual thinker and an artist. As I was looking at "Tea Party" designs on Zazzle, it struck me how very many stunningly professional images were showing up, in such a co-ordinated way, and how very similar they were.

create & buy custom products at Zazzle

As if, perhaps, there was money being spent on creating these images for people to upload. It's not out of the realm of possibility for one or two stores to show up with remarkable designs - but so many at once smacks of not terribly subtle co-ordination, and the thematic and graphic similarity seems to suggest that perhaps one or two graphic design houses are involved.

This is happening over at Cafepress
and likely all the others; professional political activists using these services to create the impression that the "teabaggers" are a genuine, widespread populist movement, when in fact it's clearly a very well funded propaganda effort.

Now, this is a bit above my pay-grade; I could use some A-List blogger help on the matter. Meanwhile, another lonely Zazzler sums it up for me with this shirt:

Tea & Potatoes T-Shirt shirt

"Tea Party? I bet you were one of those idiots ordering 'Freedom Fries,' too!"
Ripped from a conversation I overheard on the bus to work.

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