Dear Republicans: It's awesome that you've caught up to this whole newfangled Internet craze, but what's with the fixation on that late-60s invention that we all know and have skinned our knees on? That's right: AstroTurf. AstroTurfing is the plastic sensation that's sweeping the GOP nation, and, trust us, it's getting pretty old, not to mention transparent.
Dissent is essential to democracy, and freedom of speech and the right to assemble are vital and not reserved for one party or the other. The problem is this: you're doing it wrong.
How to do it right: A few guys clustered in New England got their acts together and rallied their neighbors for a cause they believed in. They made a country. They made change. It was organic. It was natural. It was grassroots.
No, no, don't run -- we know Obama said that word a lot when he was campaigning. Don't get scared. We're not talking about him, we're talking about the Sons of Liberty. They even had strong opinions about taxes! Republicans, don't shy away! Stay with us! Calling yourselves teabaggers is a good first step for you.
We understand that you want attention. We understand that you need to stay in the limelight and look like the do-stuff guys if you want to take back any seats in 2010. The problem, however, is that you are the pay-to-do-stuff guys right now. Actually, you're just paying. You're not actually doing anything. It's really a dirty business, this contrived fake protest thing.
While Democrats have been arguing amongst themselves about health care reform, a concept the GOP appears to have completely abandoned except to remind us not to kill babies or grandmas, you've been sending fake letters opposing the climate change bill to members of Congress ("you" here being lobbyists hired by the big-money coal industry). You're ("you" is oil companies and oil industry lobbyists here, keep up!) giving employees the afternoon off and busing them out to protests, protests of the bill that would mean a cleaner environment but maybe -- oh no! -- a smaller bonus for them. You're (this one's just the general "you" of the GOP, psych!!) taking a counter-conference of right wing bloggers and calling it a protest, when it is, in fact, a petty group of me-too mommy bloggers trying to get a slice of the hipster lefty political bloggers' media coverage.
In other words, you're trying to throw the game by throwing money. Remember the 1919 Chicago White Sox? It's sort of like that, in that you're eventually going to lose. In your case, probably not while wearing stirrups.
See, the problem with AstroTurfing is that it buys media coverage, but not public opinion. The people who are showing up to your fake protests have some kind of financial stake in being there, whether it's because they work for Big Oil and were bused there, or if it's because they are paid lobbyists, hired guns, and it's their job to be there. No one new is being won over by a crazy waving a sign and saying that they're going to forcibly change the climate of the House.
And, just like public opinion, media coverage does not take the place of actual legislation. Climate change is the focus of the current AstroTurfing craze (ironic, right? Since AstroTurf is fake grass?), and while the House vote was close, the bill still passed. It appears to be set to pass in the Senate as well. Anyone who takes more than a cursory look at Congress news and these so-called protests can see: climate change is where the money is, not the lawmaking. Congress is wrapped up in the health care debate, why not muck that up? That's right, because the people paying you to read their scripts are more interested in the evergreen (see what we did there?) issue of the earth and its natural resources, an issue that will long outlast our bodies and their health.
So, congratulations: A reporter covered your fake protest. Too bad they, like the rest of us, have figured out by now just how synthetic and plastic it really is, and you can't pay them off to say otherwise. Sooner or later, you'll start to understand that the majority of us vote with our heart, not with our wallets. Oh, and that when you're running on AstroTurf, it hurts really, really bad when you fall.