In Summer 2009, something stirred in America. After Barack Obama and a Democratic congress swept to power promising a new era of hope and change, out of nowhere the emergence of a citizens protest movement called the Tea Party threatened to derail their agenda. Was this uprising the epitome of grassroots democracy? Or was it, as some said, an example of “astroturfing” - the creation of fake grassroots groups, designed to put corporate messages in the mouths of seemingly independent citizens?
Fascinated by this concept of astroturfing, and curious to find out if these accusations were true, Australian filmmaker Taki Oldham hopped on a plane to investigate. Going undercover as a curious onlooker, his month-long journey took him over 5000 miles, six states and right to the heart of the “American Dream”. As the investigation turns to whether it is mere ideology or corporate investment driving these groups, Taki uncovers startling and unnerving evidence that the Tea Party movement’s formation had been guided with the help of money from billionaires and big businesses - in particular the secretive oil barons Charles and David Koch.
The Billionaires’ Tea Party is both a journey through a unique moment in American history and a thoroughly researched piece of investigative journalism. Through an examination of astroturfing and disinformation, we see how citizen democracy has been captured by powerful corporate interests that threatens not only the heath of American democracy, but that of its citizens and the planet as a whole.