The Tea Party movement has taken American politics by storm. But is this truly a populist uprising or one of the greatest feats of propaganda ever seen?
Seeking to find out, Australian filmmaker Taki Oldham embeds himself in the Tea Party uprising. From men sporting tri-corner hats in Louisville Kentucky (the movement takes name from a key event in the American revolution) to 100,000 placard waving patriots in Washington D.C. ‘taking our country back’ from Obama’s ‘communist’ regime. But who are generals of this army?
Enter brothers Charles and David Koch. Oilmen, billionaires 20 times over and on a mission to create a privatized America. For three decades they’ve unwritten a propaganda war, funding fake grassroots groups (branded ‘astroturf’ by opponents) to dupe citizens into protesting on behalf of some of Americas most powerful people and corporations. As Taki infiltrates one such group, Americans For Prosperity, he captures David Koch beaming as operatives report running Tea Party events all over the country.
Weaving together commentary from propaganda experts and political insiders with unprecedented footage, The Billionaires’ Tea Party follows astroturf groups Americans For Prosperity and Freedomworks coopting the movement from day one. As the Koch’s extreme vision of free market capitalism is woven into that cherished American spirit of individual freedom, the patriotic Tea Partiers are guided to oppose key elements of the Obama agenda. Witness hysterical scenes as a proposed Health Care bill is reframed as Soviet style ‘socialised medicine’. Follow industry-funded spin doctors and scientists dismissing Obama’s climate bill a liberal conspiracy to control peoples lives and destroy the economy. See the cosy relationship between Koch operatives and Fox News. Come undercover as Tea Partiers are indoctrinated into equating their own interests with those of corporate America. Finally, see the stunning culmination at the 2010 elections as fully 1/3 of those elected are Tea Party endorsed candidates out to make Koch’s dream a reality.
With America now facing a new era of budget-slashing union-busting politics, The Billionaires’ Tea Party is both a journey through a unique moment in American history and chilling portent of the corporate takeover of democracy.