Last year, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) proclaimed that the tea party movement is “astroturf [and] not really a grassroots movement. It’s astroturf by some of the wealthiest people in America to keep the focus on tax cuts for the rich instead of for the great middle class.” Pelosi has been repeatedly attacked since then by many on the right who object to the notion that the tea party movement is being hijacked by Republican operatives.
Today, during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” with host Elizabeth Vargas, Pelosi reiterated her belief that much of the tea party movement is “orchestrated from the Republican headquarters.” But, she also explained that progressives “share some of the views of the Tea Partiers in terms of the role of special interest in Washington” and welcomed tea partiers to join progressives in battling special interests:
PELOSI: the Republican Party directs a lot of what the Tea Party does, but not everybody in the Tea Party takes direction from the Republican Party. And so there was a lot of, shall we say, Astroturf, as opposed to grassroots. But, you know, we share some of the views of the Tea Partiers in terms of the role of special interest in Washington, D.C., as — it just has to stop.
Indeed, as ThinkProgress has documented, many of the principal organizers of the local tea party events are the well-funded right-wing astroturf organizations Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works. Both provided logistical support and public relations assistance, including “sign ideas, sample press releases, and a map of events around the country.”
Yet, as Pelosi states in the interview, opposition to entrenched special interests cut across party and ideological lines. She rightly notes that for example, Americans overwhelmingly oppose the recent Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case that eliminated decades of campaign laws that restrict corporate spending in election campaigns. A recent poll found that 80 percent of Americans oppose the decision with 85 percent of Democrats, 76 percent of Republicans, and 81 percent of independents opposed.