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Billionaires Stage “Grassroots” Protest in Pennsylvania

Here’s how “Americans for Prosperity” describes itself on a national scale and in the context of Pennsylvania:

“Americans for Prosperity is a grassroots movement of over 2.3 million activists nation wide who advocate and promote limited government, lower taxes, and more freedom. We have over 117,000 activists across the state of Pennsylvania who are taking action every day on behalf of the free market movement and influencing decision makers…. We encourage you to join the over 117,000 AFP activists in Pennsylvania and the 2.3 million activists nation wide on the front line in the fight against big government.

When Americans for Prosperity claims it has “2.3 million activists nationwide,” that means (in a country of 314 million people) that 1 out of every 136 Americans is an Americans for Prosperity activist. Do you think that’s true?

When Americans for Prosperity claims that “we have over 117,000 activists across the state of Pennsylvania who are taking action every day,” that means (in a state of 12.8 million people) that 1 out of every 109 Pennsylvanians is an Americans for Prosperity activist — and not just an Americans for Prosperity activist, but one who takes action for AFP every day. Do you think that’s true?

Here’s something I know is true about “Americans for Prosperity”: it is a political corporation funded by David Koch and Charles Koch, billionaire brothers who keep shoving their money into efforts to engineer the passage of laws that hurt American workers. This is just about the opposite of real bottom-up grassroots politics, yet the Americans for Prosperity corporation keeps calling itself a “grassroots movement.” That doesn’t inspire confidence in the claims Americans for Prosperity makes about the supposedly astounding number of activists getting involved on behalf of big business interests every day. It’s also an odd claim considering that AFP-Pennsylvania’s Facebook page shows 1/20th the “likes” one would predict — and hardly any actual readership:


An upcoming event on the Americans for Prosperity Pennsylvania calendar — a Paycheck Protection Rally against union membership on June 4 — provides an opportunity for a test of the claim that 1 out of every 109 Pennsylvanians is “taking action every day” as an Americans for Prosperity activist. AFP-Pennsylvania is holding its rally in the state capitol building in Harrisburg and is calling on all of its supporters from across Pennsylvania to attend. It’s even organizing buses from all over the state, although the billionaires are cheap enough to make attendees buy tickets:

Americans for Prosperity Billionaires are charging followers to buy tickets to its protest

If Americans for Prosperity really has 117,000 members who are active every day on its behalf then the Harrisburg “rally” should be huuuuuge, shouldn’t it? Come the day, let’s find all the pictures of the event that we can scrounge up to get an accurate count of attendance. It’ll be fun.

As the days wind down to the big June 4 protest, how’s the signup process going? Well, AFP-PA has a special public Facebook page for the event with a count of those who have agreed to go and those who say that “maybe” they’ll be attending:

Goose eggs for Americans for Prosperity Astroturf event in Harrisburg, PA

Um, well. Facebook isn’t the only social media site that matters. There’s Twitter, too — and on its own website and its separate ticket shop, Americans for Prosperity-Pennsylvania asks its “over 117,000” slavish followers to announce the event with an automated tweet containing the text “Paycheck Protection Rally.” How’s that going? A search for all Tweets over the past 7 days with the text “Paycheck Protection Rally” generates these results:

  • 20 Tweets by the AFP-PA Twitter account
  • 4 Tweets by someone named Michael Edwards
  • 2 Tweets by other people
  • 2 Tweets by other political groups

Some groundswell. This should be a biiiig rally. Maybe it will be as big as the last Americans for Prosperity – Pennsylvania rally, captured in all its astroturf glory in a Twitter header image:

Americans for Prosperity Pennsylvania Rally -- 50 out of 117 thousand equals what?

For a turnout rate, that’d be 50 actual people / 117000 claimed “daily activists.” Golly, what’s 4.27 times ten to the negative four expressed as a percent?

Postscript: the Number 1 Fan of Americans for Prosperity-Pennsylvania (is there an unpaid Number 2?) appears to be Mike Edwards. I don’t know who he is, but this is his Twitter profile image:

Fake Old Timey Abraham Lincoln Quote with words Abraham Lincoln never said

How about that old-timey brown paper look on that internet image? The stain above “independence” is a really nice touch. Problem is, those aren’t Abraham Lincoln’s words. Guess who actually said those words? A 20th Century pro-corporate equivalent of the Koch brothers. Oops.

June 4. Wait for the trickle wave!

2 thoughts on “Billionaires Stage “Grassroots” Protest in Pennsylvania”

  1. J Clifford says:

    I’m betting those 117,000 “activists” in Pennsylvania are workers at companies owned by Americans For Prosperity members. They’ll be shipped in en masse on orders from the boss.

    1. Jim Cook says:

      Not a bad guess.

      Did you notice in that profile picture that there’s not one home-made sign? Almost everyone’s wearing AFP corporate green t-shirts, too.

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