Recently, LiberalArtsDude tipped us off to a fast-growing popular movement, The Coffee Party, which appears to be a liberal response to the Tea Party Movement.
Maryland-based documentary filmmaker Annabel Park founded the movement earlier this year getting a big response to this Facebook post: let’s start a coffee party . . . smoothie party. red bull party. anything but tea. geez. ooh how about cappuccino party? that would really piss ‘em off bec it sounds elitist . . . let’s get together and drink cappuccino and have real political dialogue with substance and compassion.
In January, Park started a Facebook fan page for the Coffee Party, which attracted over 35,000 fans by the end of February and is growing quickly. The Washington Post profiled her and the movement in last Friday’s paper.
So what does the Coffee Party stand for? By its own admission, it doesn’t yet have a platform, but the official web site offers the following:
The Coffee Party Movement gives voice to Americans who want to see cooperation in government. We recognize that the federal government is not the enemy of the people, but the expression of our collective will, and that we must participate in the democratic process in order to address the challenges that we face as Americans. As voters and grassroots volunteers, we will support leaders who work toward positive solutions, and hold accountable those who obstruct them.
Hmm. While the Coffee Party eschews terms like “liberal” and “progressive,” a little reading between the lines suggests that the group’s desire is to counteract the influence of the Tea Party while working outside of the existing structures (the Democratic Party, MoveOn, etc.)
Firedoglake offers an account of the group’s first meeting. Here’s an excerpt:
Yesterday, I joined about 30-40 people at the first meeting of the Coffee Party Movement’s Washington, D.C., chapter at Potter’s House in Columbia Heights. Because these groups are still in their infancy, and not yet established in each neighborhood, folks from all over the metro area attended. There were participants from as far away as Baltimore and Annapolis. A diverse mix of white, African American, and Asian American residents, most were current or former Obama supporters, dismayed by the Tea Party movement, and leaned left of center. Everyone, organizers included, was there as a volunteer – no one was on any organization’s payroll or working for a specific political cause. In that sense, this was probably the most grassroots meeting I’ve ever been to.
Despite the crowd’s progressive inclinations, the meeting was not in any way ideological – unless commitment to participatory democracy and civil discourse is an ideology. The Coffee Party organizers – and Annabel Park, the “accidental” founder of the effort – emphasized a vision that is very much about changing our nation’s political culture and, in particular, the way we talk about politics. It is an alternative to the Tea Party in that it seeks to counteract the Tea Party’s discourse and tone. It also seeks to “get beyond sound bites” that have made the national political conversation stale and slowed our nation’s progress to a halt. Ms. Park’s description of the event as a “self-help meeting for sane people” seemed accurate – there was a noticeable absence of crazy people who are usually drawn to meetings where they may have a chance to complain.
LiberalArtsDude reflects on the group’s potential:
The real test for the Coffee Party will come when they have reached critical mass, have established an organizational structure and then are in a position to DO something. Either support or oppose some political measure, or apply pressure on a politician by giving or withholding support. Once the Coffee Party Movement has passed the stage of conversations and meetings and are in a position to execute their ideas into practice will determine what type of organization and movement they will be.
Have liberals, a year into the Obama Presidency, been reduced to aping a right-wing populist rebellion? Or are we seeing a flowering of multiparty democracy outside of the sclerotic two-party system?
One thing’s for sure: Americans of many political stripes are certain that the existing political structures are rotten to the core.