by Patrick Appel

Julian Sanchez wonders if the term has lost meaning:

Any “astroturf” campaign on the modern media landscape is going to require actually ginning up some broad-based activism if it’s going to be effective. And any genuinely spontaneous, bottom-up action that seems even moderately interesting and resonant with national issues is going to find a whole lot of political professionals eager to promote, guide, replicate, or co-opt it.  Sure, you can still talk about more or less manufactured movements, but the lines seem a lot blurrier to me.  If a few locals decide maybe there should be a rally in the town square, and a high-profile blogger or Twitter user picks it up and promotes it, is that astroturf? What if it’s the big-name activist who has the idea, and the locals decide to pick it up and run with it? In cases like this, the differences just don’t seem nearly as profound anymore.