There probably aren’t many in the reading audience who need to be told that the highly organized protesters descending on Republican representatives’ town hall meetings in the last couple of weeks are, well, highly organized protesters – not dissatisfied constituents who happened to show up out of unprecedented personal concern.
It’s quite obvious that protesters who show up to hoot and screech at a Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) town hall for 80 straight minutes, preventing any real business from getting done, are not there because they have legitimate concerns. They’re there solely to be disruptive. That’s not what well-intentioned constituents do when they have concerns to convey to a congressman or senator. They may be upset, but they engage their representative. They don’t just keep shouting him down. (Or chasing him out of the building in fear for his life, for that matter.)
They also don’t have a bunch of identical, professionally printed signs.
The protest-left has been doing the same things for a long time. Anyone who’s been paying attention can, shall we say, read the signs, and recognize what’s going on.
It’s kind of hilariously obvious that the town hall disruptions in the weeks since President Trump took office are not evidence of a “grassroots” movement. They have all the aspect of central organization and theme-mongering.
In fact, the telling tweet of CNN reporter Kyung Lah from the Chaffetz town hall – included at Allahpundit’s Hot Air post – provides exactly the clue we need, to home in on the central organization and its probable major backer.
— Kyung Lah (@KyungLahCNN) February 10, 2017
Allahpundit’s quizzical point is certainly well-taken: that the featured protest couple is from Arizona, and came from “685 miles” away. Rep. Chaffetz has nothing to worry about as regards these citizens’ votes.
But look to the end of the tweet, and take note of the Twitter handle: @IndivisibleTeam. There’s your clue.
An organized Astro Turf brand
“Indivisible” is an evidently well-orchestrated network of activism, focused on one thing: opposing the Trump agenda through inserting itself into state- and local-politics forums. The most-advertised Indivisible effort is that of a group of ex-congressional staffers, who in December 2016 published the “Indivisible Guide” for people wanting to don the mantle of activism and start exerting influence in town halls and other political-contact forums.
The leftosphere has been very excited about this. It’s being sold as a way of turning the Tea Party’s methods against the political right – although it’s clear that the actual character of the Tea Party is not what these folks are replicating. The Tea Party genuinely lacked centralized organization and fealty to a larger political movement. The Indivisible organization is plugged in with all the usual suspects from the protest-left.
Within a couple of days of the Indivisible Guide’s initial publication on Google Docs (14 December 2016), nearly identical stories about the Indivisible team were being blasted across the leftosphere. From DailyKos and Mother Jones to TPM, Slate, and other usual suspects, everyone picked up on the Guide immediately. (Including The New Yorker, for that matter – and very quickly indeed.)
A few days later, the gratifyingly viral guide was as slickly packaged as anything from Obama’s OFA or a Jeremy Bird political campaign, and rehosted at its own website. Just in time for the new Congress to be sworn in, on 2 January, the Guide’s authors were published in the New York Times, touting their theme about mimicking the Tea Party.
And some ten days after that, with “Indivisible” groups “spontaneously” springing up across America, an associated network, the Townhall Project, began publishing a regularly updated schedule of constituent events being held by U.S. Senators and representatives in their states and districts. The Indivisible Guide website directs aspiring activists to the Townhall Project Facebook page and spreadsheet; the Townhall Project returns the favor. Both networks have a well-organized presence on social media.
The point here isn’t that this is nefarious. That’s a separate issue. The point is that it isn’t a spontaneous, grassroots movement. (Even veteran activist Wade Rathke, formerly of ACORN, while politically in sympathy with the Indivisible authors, thinks the principals “are not really protestors so much as advocates with deep experience as lobbyists.”)
They are a collection of former Hill staffers, some now think-tank and advocacy group employees, along with a senior researcher for SEIU. The Daily Signal’s Fred Lucas cites background from Matthew Vadum of the Capital Research Center (a go-to expert on activism research, who came up with much the same things I did) – and concludes what you’ve been expecting to hear: that the Indivisible group has ties to Soros-funded entities.
Lucas quotes Vadum:
“Indivisible is ultra-slick leftist astroturf activism at its finest,” Matthew Vadum, senior vice president at the Capital Research Center, told The Daily Signal in an email. “At least three of the group’s five principals—Ezra Levin, Leah Greenberg, and Angel Padilla—have ties to organizations funded by George Soros. Indivisible is apparently not yet a nonprofit, but plans are in the works to register it as a nonprofit.”
See the particulars at the link. Lucas emphasizes that the Indivisible principals say they are not funded by Soros, and there is no direct evidence of a funding connection. (Since the ActBlue super-PAC raises funds for Indivisible, and George Soros’ son Jonathan has made at least one contribution to ActBlue, the demonstrated links are nevertheless there to make such a direct tie more than merely possible.)
That said, the group’s vice president, Leah Greenberg (married to Ezra Levin), worked until just recently for Humanity United, which receives funding from the Open Society Institute. That’s where she was working in December, when the Guide was published. (Humanity United is also part of the Omidyar Group of non-profits, funded by Obama cronies Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay, and his wife Pam. In 2016, Pierre Omidyar made big donations to anti-Trump PACs.) Just this week, Virginia Democrat Tom Perriello announced that Ms. Greenberg would be the policy director for his upcoming gubernatorial campaign.
And the secretary of Indivisible Guide, Angel Padilla, works for the Soros-funded National Immigration Law Center.
Public broadcasting angle
Another efflorescence of the “Indivisible” brand serves to increase the likelihood that Soros money is behind the network. “Indivisible” is the name of a new program produced for national public radio, by New York’s WNYC and Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), and it had its first broadcast on 23 January, right after Trump took office.
The content hook of the Indivisible program is to review and debate the first 100 days of the Trump presidency. The show’s promotion blurb reads as follows:
WNYC and Minnesota Public Radio News (MPR) are joining forces to convene a nightly gathering for Americans to talk, debate, and find common ground in the first 100 days of the new administration.
But the real news, if you were to go by the other media coverage of the show’s rollout, is that the producers are really excited to have a conservative talk radio host as one of their rotating personalities for each of the four weekly segments.
And who is the conservative voice? It’s Charlie Sykes – who famously established himself as a leading NeverTrumper in March 2016. The other host personalities for the show are all liberal-progressives. So the show will be wall-to-wall anti-Trump, airing on public radio under the implied pretense that its conservative voice gives it balance, and gives Trump a fair shake.
The connections of Soros to public broadcasting have been well documented – including the Media Research Center’s account of his monetary contributions to the specific organizations producing “Indivisible,” WNYC (through its subsidiary WNYC Studios) and MPR.
More will no doubt emerge on this in the coming days. Just a cursory survey of the New York chapter of Indivisible turns up a “sister organizations” page listing Color of Change (funded by Soros, co-founded by Van Jones) and the feminist Paradigm Shift NYC, a big player in the Women’s March on 21 January.
It must also come as no surprise that the website of AFSCME – the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees labor union – devotes a page to the Indivisible Guide. The guide no doubt shows up in a number of other places, if you look far enough.
Not all of the town hall protests have been kinetically disruptive, or as raucous as those at the events of Jason Chaffetz or Tom McClintock (R-CA). The Indivisible Guide is careful to advocate for “respectful” engagement. But the political community it’s being used by starts with a long history of organization, aggression, and prepackaged themes of its own. The Indivisible brand is clearly part of a multidimensional campaign, leveraging horizontal organization and political money to get in and agitate directly athwart Trump’s red-state base.