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SteepThe Precipitous Rise of the Tea Party$
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Lawrence Rosenthal and Christine Trost

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780520274228

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520274228.001.0001

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date: 24 November 2017

Astroturf versus Grass Roots

Astroturf versus Grass Roots

Scenes from Early Tea Party Mobilization1

Chapter:
(p.98) Chapter 4 Astroturf versus Grass Roots
Source:
Steep
Author(s):

Clarence Y. H. Lo

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520274228.003.0005

This chapter takes on the much-disputed question of whether the Tea Party is Astroturf or grassroots. The Astroturf metaphor asserts that conservative leadership organizations provided resources, direction, and standardized messages that were crucial in instigating Tea Party protests. The grass roots metaphor is a claim that the Tea Party resembles iconic phenomena such as the New England town hall meeting, the Iowa caucuses, or the clandestine collective action of the American Revolution. Both metaphors contain at least a grain of truth. In its initial stage, the Tea Party was Astroturf—grassroots contrivance; in a second stage, however, the grass roots developed an autonomy (both strategically and organizationally) that revitalized the Republican Party.

Keywords:   Tea Party movement, Astroturf, grass roots politics, Republican Party, mobilization

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