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Gore writes: "The movement was not a spontaneous populist uprising, but rather a long-term strategy to promote the anti-science, anti-government agenda of powerful corporate interests."

Former Vice President Al Gore. (photo: Mario Anzuoni)
Former Vice President Al Gore. (photo: Mario Anzuoni)

False Spontaneity of the Tea Party

By Al Gore, Reader Supported News

15 February 13


new study funded by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health reveals that the Tea Party Movement was planned over a decade ago by groups with ties to the tobacco and fossil fuel industries. The movement was not a spontaneous populist uprising, but rather a long-term strategy to promote the anti-science, anti-government agenda of powerful corporate interests.

The two organizations mentioned in the report, Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks, used to be a single organization that was founded by the Koch brothers and heavily financed by the tobacco industry. These organizations began planning the Tea Party Movement over ten years ago to promote a common agenda that advocated market fundamentalism over science and opposed any regulation or taxation of fossil fuels and tobacco products.

The disturbing history of links between market fundamentalists, the tobacco industry and the Tea Party movement is part of an even larger trend that I describe in my new book, The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change. Following the era of Progressive and New Deal reforms that restrained corporate influence in American politics following the infamous Robber Baron Era, market fundamentalists were once again motivated and radicalized by the social turbulence of the 1960s. In 1971, a prominent lawyer for the tobacco industry, Lewis Powell, wrote a memorandum for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that presented a comprehensive plan aimed at shifting the balance of political power in favor of corporations. President Nixon appointed Powell to the Supreme Court just two months later.

Guided by the Powell Memo, market fundamentalists have pursued a comprehensive strategy to dramatically increase corporate influence in American politics. Powell himself worked with other pro-corporate justices to interpret laws in ways that were favorable to corporate interests, most importantly expanding the precedent of corporate personhood. As a direct result, corporate lobbying exploded, increasing from $100 million in 1975 to $3.5 billion in 2010. Corporations also used increasingly voluminous campaign contributions to promote the election of pro-corporate politicians at all levels of government. Wealthy donors founded conservative think tanks to influence public opinion in favor of market fundamentalism. The Tea Party is a clear extension of Powell's strategy to promote corporate profit at the expense of the public good.

Our democracy has been hacked by this expansion of corporate power, preventing meaningful action on several crucial issues. The climate crisis is an instructive example. The strategic goal of the market fundamentalists to "reposition global warming as theory not fact" has created enough false doubt around the issue to hinder progress. The potential consequences of climate change have never been clearer than they are today. Consider what we saw in America just last year. 2012 was the hottest year in American history and 60% of America experienced drought. Extreme weather events, like Superstorm Sandy, caused over $110 billion of damages. Yet Congress remains paralyzed, with many lawmakers even refusing to acknowledge the validity of climate science. The future of our planet demands that we put the sustainability of our planet before corporate profit.

We must reclaim control of our destiny. Reducing corporate influence in American politics and reinvigorating reason-based decision-making is vital to the sustainability of our democratic system. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+85 # MEBrowning 2013-02-15 12:08
I started a list of additional ills perpetrated by the Kochs and other billionaires who have bought and corrupted our legislators, our airwaves, our democracy — the systematic dismantling of our public education system, corporate control of the media, the demonization of loyal opposition, the insidious fomenting of a gunslinger mentality, perverting the truth while robbing us blind, etc., etc., etc. But the list grew so long it became too depressing. Maybe it truly is time to give the cockroaches a chance.
+56 # WestWinds 2013-02-15 12:50
The "cockroaches" are only a handful of the same people (Rove,Viguerie, Koch bros., etc.) These people are responsible for things like Moral Majority, Judicial Watch, Freedom Works, the Tea Party, etc. The cockroaches create these groups and while they are shiny and new, the cockroaches make billions by siphoning off a small percent of the donations. Then, when one group is found to lose its public appeal, they just create another. But it's always the same people at the bottom of it, and it's the same people who run to join/donate to it, but because of all of the different names of different groups, it LOOKS like there is a huge movement and loads of support. This really isn't the case. The worst enemy in all of this is the privatized media (the TV) which Bill Clinton gave to the cockroaches in 1996, so he could get his law license back. So, don't believe that the cockroaches are totally in charge. Remember what Caesar said, "They can't take from you what you won't let go of." Hang on to democracy for dear life and NEVER let go!!!
+18 # MEBrowning 2013-02-15 19:14
WestWinds, I agree with your assessment on a figurative basis, but I meant the reference to cockroaches as literal.
0 # Firefox11 2013-02-17 11:35
You mean, sanctify their poop.
+75 # Inspired Citizen 2013-02-15 12:12
Gore is spot on. You can help legalize democracy and outlaw corporate plutocracy by signing the petition and plug in, turn on and help fight the good fight.
+26 # Barbara K 2013-02-15 13:41
Inspired Citizen: Thanks, signed the petition. Hope many more will sign it.

+6 # Al21 2013-02-15 22:25
Thanks for posting this! Will do!
+49 # Al21 2013-02-15 12:43
This well written, eye-opening excerpt is one more bit of evidence of what many millions of Americans have know for some time and tried in varying ways to fight against. Gore with so much experience in the senate and the white house as well as a child of a politician no doubt saw much of this transition up close and personally.
I certainly will check out this book and hope others do as well.
I sure wish though that this would have been among the main themes that Vice President Gore would have campaigned on when he ran for President. Even if all of the corporate world had turned against him for this; could you imagine the impact of what he would have said? Even if he'd been ridiculed for it at the time by the Bush machine, my feeling is that today he'd be lauded and might have had yet another shot at the Presidency or some other important post such as the likes of Elizabeth Warren, who has done her best to speak the truth and play less of the game and still has been able to win a major election.
It's all hindsight of course. And a person as far out of the loop like me, never really may know what was going on. But it is something to hope for; that more and more people who wish to become public servants will take the leap at the opportune moments in their careers to really tell the people what many already know and would love to support.
+2 # Firefox11 2013-02-17 11:42
We see citizen Gore much more in the forefront of social change now than when he campaigned, as a known quantity, in 2000, against a lesser opponent, yet still lost.
Like Colin Powell, who had a similarly challenging moment before the Iraq War, when he could have led the country away from that debacle, and did not. Both men chose to play it safe. What a loss for the country and for those men.
+57 # fredboy 2013-02-15 13:02
Tea Party anti-science reigns in Collier County, FL, where toxic harmful algal blooms dubbed "red tide" have scoured our shores for more than five months. The Tea Party county commission voted to reject pleas to move back fertilizer--the main promoter of the dangerous bacteria--only 10 feet from shorelines. Golf courses and landscapers demanded they reject it, insisting "the science wasn't settled". I tried to explain that NO SCIENCE IS 'SETTLED'--ther e is always research and new discoveries--bu t it has been absolutely proven that fertilizer sparks harmful algal blooms.

How harmful? Major respiratory illnesses. And neurotoxic impacts including ALS and Alzheimers. Extremely dangerous to small children and the elderly. This once was The Paradise Coast--now it is The Bacteria Coast. Fancy Naples, home to scores of Republican millionaires--a nd a toxic stew now permanently scouring all life along its beachfront. Warn everyone you know—avoid the beaches along Florida’s southwest coast.
+41 # Billsy 2013-02-15 13:45
Sad to say, when Clinton was President and Gore was riding herd on climate issues in FL, a wealthy sugar baron got a 20 minute phone call with the president promising a donation in return for a cease & desist to his administration' s fight against heavy fertilizer use. The sugar baron got want he wanted, never mind the people of FL. No surprise Al Gore must have held a bit of a grudge re: this very same subject. The single most important political effort today must be to cut private political donations, get them totally out of our electoral process. The public needs its voice back.
+23 # bmiluski 2013-02-15 14:30
Its going to be hard to get $$ out of politics especially since you have a judge who refuses to attend any of President Obama's State of the Union addresses. He's miffed because the president had the audacity to criticize Scalia's support of Citizens United.
+3 # Firefox11 2013-02-17 11:47
A perfect example of the unregulated free market that Repub believe in and how that belief does not actually benefit the economy; freedom is not free. How stupid to not protect the coastline; tourism is the number one industry in Florida where I live.
+31 # Adoregon 2013-02-15 13:04
The Seductive Power of Money

It has always surprised me how relatively little money (if you are a super rich individual or corporation) it takes to buy the allegiance of most people.

In their efforts to control everything, the super rich and their corporate shields do nothing but corrupt any semblance of a free and democratic society. They cultivate and spread their amoral worldview while preaching the opposite.

Because their money has been so successfully employed to shape laws in their interests, they actually believe they are special beings whose rights supersede those of lesser (the non-rich)beings.

Until the non-rich (the vast majority) understand how they are manipulated and how the game of life in the U.S.A. (we're free!! we're free!!) is heavily rigged against them, our faux democracy will continue to limp along in full cognitive disconnect mode.

The Tea Party is yet another form of co-opting a segment of the populace in addition to the Democratic and Republican parties which were co-opted by the rich and corporations long ago.

The corrosive power of money must be removed from our political system and government. Only candidates without ties to large pools of money should receive votes.

Finally, "none of the above" must be a choice on all ballots.
+2 # Firefox11 2013-02-17 12:02
Brilliant, concise analysis of the problem with the US brand of freedom which the public school system continues to miseducate students on. I believe that the term to be used here is entitled; the rich believe that they are entitled to entitlements, and so they simply go after what they believe they deserve. The middle and working class have been taught to believe that only "hard work" will help them to get what they want. They then will "deserve" to have more.
+31 # JayMagoo 2013-02-15 13:54
Al Gore is absolutely right! But it has to be said over and over because the evil Koch brothers, with the help of the nefarious Fox News (Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes) keep putting out their self-serving false message. Keep saying it, Al. Don't let America forget the the Koch brothers, Murdoch, and Ailes have been trying to corrupt and destroy America for years and they've got enough money between them to keep trying for a long time.
+3 # Midwestgeezer 2013-02-15 18:23
Though I abhor what the Koch Bros. are doing (they've financed my Governor, Scott Walker), I would not call them evil. However, they do evil things which they believe to be GOOD!
William Penn, of Pennsylvania fame, said that: "To do evil that good may come of it is for bunglers in politics as well as in morals." They are bunglers and their bungling will sooner or later bring them down.
In the meantime, they cannot seem to accumulate ENOUGH $billions and they push for right to work laws so that others can accumulate less, believing our economic system to be a zero-sum game....
+2 # Firefox11 2013-02-17 12:05
So, then who is evil, or better yet, what is evil?
+27 # MindDoc 2013-02-15 14:05
Quick reactions:

1.Compelling reading, and an example of why reading and education and science, etc., are just so unpalatable to the GOTP.

2. Thoughtful comments! (Ah yes, Cockroaches do not like light shining on them.)

3.With insight *can* come hope, and solutions. OTOH, dumbing down of "news" (as presented by the fewer & fewer) and the constant shrill repetition of false mantras the crying by McConnell the Clueless about "what the American people (corporate mint) want". Education is the jugular vein of society's cumulative history and knowledge and belief systems. Norquist, Ailes, and the New Rand Party have been using what was OUR money once, to churn out sufficient propaganda to nullify reality.

"News" and political shows (increasingly including PBS, which runs more oil propaganda ads for 'clean' environmental suicide than many 'commercial' stations) continue to play on our collective 140-character attention span, repeating the untruths over and over, & 'projecting' the evils of our Congress as being the fault of the other side (reality be damned once again).

Truth is refreshing - and that goes for all parties and platforms! But lies stated repeatedly, for weeks, days, months, years, until they become beliefs which influence voting and lifestyle, are a dangerous substitute for thoughtfulness based on facts, adult-type debate, and representation of, by, and for WE the (human) people. With accountability.

Thank you, Mr. Gore! Rings so true, loud & clear.
+26 # cymricmorty 2013-02-15 14:14
Good article. I was taught that fascism was government in tandem with corporatism. Generally speaking, sounds like that's what is going on here.
+6 # Smokey 2013-02-16 08:53
Quoting cymricmorty:
I was taught that fascism was government in tandem with corporatism. Generally speaking, sounds like that's what is going on here.

Yes, that's right. Although there are very few people with the wisdom and the courage to argue against modern fascism. At best, folks make vague references to "the military-indust rial complex," while waiting for the next invasion of a fossil fuel country. (I suspect that the Pentagon is already making big plans for the oil-producing nations in Latin America.)

The road to fascism?

Combine the military-indust rial complex with the various crackpot groups on the political right. The crackpots need a crackpot philosophy and Ayn Rand provides what they want. Instead of shouting about "the triumph of the will," the new generation of whackos will declare that they want "freedom."
(Freedom to do what to who?)
-47 # SMoonz 2013-02-15 14:32
So the Tea Party had ties to the fossil fuel industries yet the formerly Gore owned network Current TV was sold to Al Jazeera which is funded by the government of Qatar. Qatar is rich off oil money. Gore made millions off the sale and in essence received fossil fuel money.
You can't point fingers when you're in bed with the same people.
-32 # Walter J Smith 2013-02-15 14:52
We know the national government has been hacked by corporatism run wild.

Why doesn't Al Gore write about how one his watch as Vice President, and during his campaign in 1999 & 2000 he mentioned nothing about the US Hacker-in-Chief , Bill Clinton's deal with Dick Armey & Phil Gramm to do a major chunk of that hacking by repealing the Glass-Steagall Act?

Might that be because Al Gore doesn't remember those days and his massive, and continuing silence about how he was Absent While On Duty as a public servant?

The writing about the Tea Party is a silly side show compared to the Democratic Party's official, repeated, continual, and current collusion with the Tea Party's leaders on behalf extending forever and everywhere the corporate takeover of the US.
+19 # wwway 2013-02-15 16:48
Update your knowledge, Smith. The negociations that repealed Glass-Steagall were well intentioned and have since been acknowledged as a big mistake. If you are complaining that Democrats have moved more to the right with the pull of Republicans, you're right.
+20 # Anarchist 23 2013-02-15 14:56
You might want to read Margaret Atwood's 'After the Flood'-a dystopian book that eerily predicts what we might become if the corporations continue to buy the government. Florida has algae blooms, Pa has fracking along with so many other states. NM has uranium mining; it just goes on and on everywhere. Is there a solution? I suppose we must do what we can. As Theoden said in 'Lord of the Rings' and this may be our situation: 'It is a battle we cannot win but we will meet them in battle nonetheless.' To whatever barricade you choose-onwards into the dark.
-65 # 2013-02-15 14:59
The Left - MSNBC, CNN, or whoever
The Right - FOX

Yes, reporting with bias..... won't find any Tea Party people watching Al Jeezerha on Current TV.

The marriage of socialist leaning people like Gore to the Islamists is the most dangerous union since the Arabs joined with the Nazi Movement.
+8 # CAMUS1111 2013-02-16 13:32
For you to claim Gore is socialist leaning, you must be clearly delusional. What a wad!
+9 # ksan51 2013-02-16 15:41
The Left - MSNBC, CNN, or whoever
The Right - FOX

Yes, reporting with bias..... won't find any Tea Party people watching Al Jeezerha on Current TV.

The marriage of socialist leaning people like Gore to the Islamists is the most dangerous union since the Arabs joined with the Nazi Movement.

Such ignorance! You won't find any Tea Party people watching an actual news organization because the only way for them to support their viewpoints is to be completely and totally ignorant of the facts.

Al Jazeera is one of the worlds most respected news organizations, whether you like it or not.

I don't understand how you can go through life holding such ignorant and simplistic viewpoints. You better go put your tin foil hat back on, I hear the CIA has a bead on you.

Why do you even bother posting such nonsense. Gore a socialist? That is ridiculous. If Al Gore is a socialist, then I'm Karl Marx himself.

People like you are what is really dangerous in this situation.
0 # Firefox11 2013-02-17 12:32
Al Jazeera is an interesting network, not to be ignored. Check out The Control Room, a documentary about AJ, offers an inside look at an international team that reports news on a fairly objective basis which can not always be said about US media, owned by a few conglomerates with vested interests, not our nation's interests.
+17 # Midwestgeezer 2013-02-15 16:39
As I observed the "awakenings" of the early Tea Party in their rallys I saw what seemed to be the emergence of a latent racist bent to the organization. While I'd never make a broad-based accusation, racists seemed to be welcome there. "By their signs ye shall know them". Also, they seemed to suddenly be protesting things which they had not protested during the George W. Bush administration.
+18 # wwway 2013-02-15 16:43
It should not come as a surpirse that the tea party wasn't a grass roots effort. The moment it sprung to attention it was perfectly clear that it was a another spin off FOX and K Street.
I find Al Jeezera more journalisticly professional. So much so that many conservatives jump at the chance to be inclluded. For example, the Ohio state Republican who put forth the personhood amendment answered Al Jezera's journalist's question "Why do you think a woman would have an abortion?" He responded "I haven't given it any thought." An American journalist woudln't dare ask such a question because American journalism is in a professional crisis.
+21 # Regina 2013-02-15 17:28
The next generation of placid sheep is already in the crosshairs. Texas has just passed a law that forbids the teaching of critical thinking! The "reasoning" behind this idiocy is that children shouldn't have the beliefs they've learned at home criticized in their schooling. Fox fodder custom made.
+16 # sdraymond 2013-02-15 20:43
We were warned about these people by Dwight Eisenhower in 1960, but did not heed the warning.

Since then, the military industrial complex has brought us many popular smash hits and blockbusters; such as the Vietnam war, Nixon and the destruction of Cambodia, Reagan and Grenada, George Bush, Afghanistan, Al Qaeda-911, Iraq, drones and now the all-time best seller: The 21st century Republican Party and their offspring; the Tea Party. Winston Churchill said that "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else"

How much longer do we have to listen to these people before we finally do the right thing and exorcise them from our political universe?
+9 # Smokey 2013-02-16 08:38
There's a long history of big corporations trying to manipulate right-wing populist groups. It happened in Germany during the 1920s and into the 1930s.

Because of corporate and military support, a guy named Hitler went from political obscurity to national leadership. The German corporations didn't create the Nazi Party and the American corporations didn't establish the Tea Party. However, in both cases, the big corporations boosted the crackpots and gave them access to political power.

This is how fascism works. The military-indust rial complex enlists the support of various crackpot groups. The crackpots get to march around with guns while broadcasting crackpot theories about the weather, racial minorities, immigrants, family values, homosexuals, "the triumph of the will," etc.

FOOTNOTE: The Nazi Party has gone back to the margins. The old Soviet Union has collapsed. However, the big German corporations are still major players in the global economy. (Would you like to reconsider the outcome of the Second World War? Who won?)
+3 # cymricmorty 2013-02-16 09:05
Great explanation. Thanks for that.
+3 # Inspired Citizen 2013-02-18 10:13
If we don't clip the wings of corporate influence and power in Washington, DC; we are doomed as a nation and as a civilization. Climate change is already accelerating.

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