Thousands Looking for an Alternative to Frothing Teabagging Crowd Find Refuge in Newly Formed ‘Coffee Party’
It might have been inevitable that the answer to the movement that calls itself the Tea Party would be labeled the Coffee Party, but it wasn’t exactly by design.
“[L]et’s start a coffee party … smoothie party. red bull party. anything but tea,” activist and filmmaker Annabel Park wrote on her Facebook page one day in January, adding, jokingly, “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.”
Little did Park know that the idea would seriously catch on, tapping into widespread thirst for a potential alternative to the Tea Party movement and launching real life, off-line, on-the-ground activity across the country.
This, anyway, is the story as told by the Washington Post last week, in a profile of Park and her fellow “Coffee Party activists,” who are portrayed as the progressive response to the right-wing Tea Partiers. It’s a bit of a false dichotomy and some of the comparisons are dubious (“The Coffee Party believes the middle is consensus. The Tea Party believes the middle is the Constitution”), but it’s more than a little heartening to see a media spotlight on people who are working to push back against the Tea Party right. There are now more than 45 Coffee Party chapters in the country, with “over 300 more requests for local chapters that we haven’t yet fulfilled,” according to its Web site. A series of online videos shows a diverse cross-section of Americans who care about their country, making the case for civic engagement, and recalling the sincerity of so many of those who joined the ranks of Obama’s presidential campaign.
The Coffee Party mission, such as it is, seems to be as much as a call to sanity as it is an attempt to redeem American democracy, while re-capturing some of the heady idealism of the ‘08 campaign. According to its Facebook page, which boasts some 40,000 members since its creation in late January (the Washington Post profile helped): “The aspirations of the Coffee Party Movement are to transform the political culture of our country, to restore participatory democracy, and engage all interested citizens to work together towards real solutions. It is not enough to cast our vote every few years. We have to work at making our government work for us.”