Seeing The "Open the Economy" Protests In Their Proper Light - 2020-04-19
The protests we've seen in a handful of locations around the country have bamboozled a lot of the national press. Look closely and a lot of the turnout is heavily stocked with militia types and the kinds of groups who turned out for the Charlottesville protests a couple years ago. But the bigger thing is that for now they appear highly orchestrated. In Michigan, they appear to be in part in reaction polling showing severe declines in public support for President Trump. They're organized by groups funded in large part by the DeVos family. These are basically Trump loyalists supporting Trump at his request and mobilized by key rightist groups. The key question, as TPM Reader TS explains, is whether what starts here as orchestrated and largely inorganic takes on a life of its own and gains political traction. They now have Fox and an incumbent President cheering them on as a demonstration of political identity.
As for the "open the economy" protests right now, I am keeping an eye on them. A modest number of places so far, and participants in the tens to hundreds to around a thousand apiece. These early events look very orchestrated by a few key national professional organizations – and more electorally aimed than early Tea P or resistance protests were in 2009 and 2017. The orchestrators are Americans for Prosperity, Freedom Works, Club for Growth, and the Trump reelect campaign, all national professional operations. The advocacy groups are all ultra-free-market operations that most certainly do not want most Americans to become reliant upon public benefits or more trusting of government.
This is an ideological worry for them. Of course there are also real grassroots participants carrying signs and honking car horns. They might be activists signed up with FW, AFP, Club etc, and certainly they are Trump Twiitter followers. They look exactly like the kinds of people who attend Trump rallies. I do not mean to signal disrespect for them. They feel what they feel. But they are a tiny minority – and you can bet that a lot of their wives and mothers are worried about them going out in public to cluster and perhaps catch the virus. Also, these are such a minority of people that they are hardly going to crowd any shopping malls if those reopen. Keeping an eye on what women think is relevant to the revival of consumerism.