Astroturfing the Democratic Process

I know astroturf when I see it…and I’ve seen plenty of it as a campaign manager and political activist. In my community alone we’ve endured multiple corporate money backed campaigns billed as “grassroots” that turned-out to be elaborate corporate schemes.

It’s easy to spot a sham.

So, my nose for these things was tweaked by a new facebook group that bills itself as “grassroots”. They are supposedly all about simply protecting Michigan’s constitution from the assault of the amendment questions on the ballot this November. On the surface, this group appears to be yet another “just say no to them all” campaign….but is it really?

They launched about a week ago on Oct 11th, instantaneously finding over 900 followers. Their page, with little substantive content, has been enthusiastically liked and commented on to a very suspicious degree ever since. Having worked on multiple such social media campaigns — I smell a rat.


Curiously, they weigh-in big time (literally) on the only non-constitutional question  on the ballot–Proposal 1, the referendum to repeal the Emergency Manager law.  They urge a  “yes” vote to keep that blatantly unconstitutional, racist and non-democratic legislative turd as law, even though it has nothing to do with their supposed core mission — protecting the constitution. They then go on to urge “no” votes on all the constitutional amendments — cleverly Doo-wop naming themselves Yes -No-No-No-No-No.

Just take a look at their logo (size matters):


Defending the Emergency Manager law is next to impossible as a campaign organized around it on principle — how do you advocate for a wholesale attack on democratic home rule without coming across as un-American? However, if piggy-backed on the other proposals, they just might get away with sneaking their message in.

It’s hard to believe this is the work of Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution, who recently produced that embarrassing TV spot depicting a couple of uninformed absentee voters willy-nilly voting “no” on everything without even taking the time to even read the ballot measures. Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution already has a robust facebook page — why would they need another? Besides, they pulled that moronic TV spot and have since zeroed-in on getting “no” votes on the three proposals they only cared about in the first place: 2, 3  and 4, leaving other corporate interests to hammer the electorate with a vote “yes” campaign on props 5 and 6, both ballot questions designed to protect the privately owned Ambassador Bridge from public competition and keep the billionaire Moroun family’s fortune intact.

Well, at least we can admire the way these Tea Party-backed corporate interests have learned to coordinate their democracy-destroying efforts! Kudos for respecting each other’s turf! (assholes).

Amy Kerr Hardin


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