Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Astroroots, Not Grassroots

The Pullman Alliance for Responsible Develoment describes itself as a "grassroots" movement to stop Wal-Mart. They are in reality an "astroroots" group. "Astroroots" is a term used to describe corporate-backed groups that masquerade as a "grassroots" citizen's group.

A story on MSNBC a few months back stated:
A union crusade against America's largest retailer, Wal-Mart, has the potential to not only hurt the company’s balance sheet and alter Americans’ shopping habits, but also to change the course of the 2006 and 2008 campaigns.

Americans cast their votes not just on Election Day but every day, by deciding where to spend their money. And the United Food and Commercial Workers Union is urging Americans to not spend their money at Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart has successfully fought the union's efforts to organize its workforce.

Now the union has recruited strategists from the 2004 Howard Dean and Wesley Clark campaigns, and they are mounting a crusade that goes beyond the usual union tactics, such as the boycott or shareholder resolution expressing disapproval of a company’s policies.

Paul Blank, who served as political director for the Dean campaign, is running the "Wake-Up Wal-Mart” campaign, and Chris Kofinis, a strategist for the Clark campaign, is the effort's communications adviser.

Blank and Kofinis are deploying election campaign-tested tactics to assail Wal-Mart: running petition drives and holding house parties, canvassing at farmers’ markets, stockpiling an e-mail list and conducting conference calls to marshal the efforts of local anti-Wal-Mart activists.

“We need a broad social movement to change this company,” said Blank. “This is a moral question about what kind of America we want to live in. Do we want to live in Wal-Mart’s version of America, where you drive down wages, don’t provide health insurance, provide no retirement security, ship jobs overseas and have complete abandonment of your values in the relentless pursuit of profit?”

“This is going to become a very important wedge issue that political leaders on Capitol Hill and across the country are going to have to face,” said Kofinis.
"...running petition drives and holding house parties, canvassing at farmers’ markets, stockpiling an e-mail list..." Does that sounds like anyone we know? So what connection does PARD have with organized labor anyway? Plenty. T.V. Reed, PARD chairman, "recently completed a new book The Art of Protest (Univ. of Minnesota Press, 2005) that retells the history of key US social movements from Civil Rights era to the current movement against corporate globalization using cultural forms (music, murals, poetry, drama, etc.) as lenses onto the movements." Nella van Dyke, PARD Petition Coordinator, presented a paper at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in 2004 titled “Manufacturing Dissent: Labor Revitalization, Union Summer and Student Protest.”

Need further proof? Check out PARD's entry on the Wake Up Wal-Mart site. Or this post and this one highlighting PARD and Pullman on Wal-Mart Watch's website.

So I think it's pretty obvious that this "grassroots" movement is just the Pullman franchise of a greater national left-wing movement against Wal-Mart, started by Al Norman, and now being run by organized labor and the Howard Dean wing of the Democratic Party.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in 2008. As we all know, Bill Clinton and Wal-Mart are the two biggest things to ever come out of Arkansas. Wal-Mart was a contributor to Bill Clinton's presidential campaigns as well as Hillary Clinton's Senate campaign. In fact, in the early 90's, Hillary Clinton even served on the board of directors of Wal-Mart. If, as widely expected, Hillary Rodham Clinton runs for the Democratic Presidential nomination, how will the anti-Wal-Mart jihadists like PARD react to her?


Ray Lindquist said...

Well Well, so the union wants them out of "dodge" do they. Well I sure know that I will drive out of my way to shop at a Wal-Mart from now on. Thanks for the GREAT post yet again Tom. Hope the rest of you will find your way past a Wal-Mart and buy something soon. Lord willing it won't be long and we won't have to drive to far. The city goverment have done a GREAT job and walking (Land mines and all THX to PARD) this resquest for a New TAX Paying store through the hurdles that they need to go through.

April E. Coggins said...

Tom, this the exact reason for TV Reed to protest Wal-Mart. Some of his Kool-Aid drinkers are not aware of why they are against Wal-Mart or even why they are against Wal-Mart in Pullman. The easiest way to disarm anti-Walmart people is to ask, "Why?" Their response will expose their ignorance or bias.

Ray Lindquist said...

Maybe we should pool our money and buy a large print ad in a local rag, IF they would let you put it in.