Who needs a Tea Party when you can have a Coffee Party?
Furious at the tempest over the Tea Party -- the scattershot citizen uprising against big government and wild spending -- Annabel Park did what any American does when she feels her voice has been drowned out: She squeezed her anger into a Facebook status update.
Hey, if it works for Sarah Palin, why not for Annabel Park? Park's deep thought was, of course, highly emblematic of a certain type of American thought -- John Rawls meets Mickey Rooney, with a chaser of snark:
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.
While I suspect most Tea Partiers are fully capable of political dialogue with substance and compassion, we'll let that pass for the moment. Annabel Park's comment did get something started:
Friends replied, and more friends replied. So last month, in her Silver Spring apartment, Park started a fan page called "Join the Coffee Party Movement." Within weeks, her inbox and page wall were swamped by thousands of comments from strangers in diverse locales, such as the oil fields of west Texas and the suburbs of Chicago.
So what does the Coffee Party hope to accomplish? From their website, here is their mission statement:
MISSION: 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.
Ah, it's that darned obstructionism again, known at other times as "checks and balances" or "the highest form of patriotism." And pay close attention to the idea that the government is the "expression of our collective will." Who could forget how well that idea played in 2005? But again, we'll leave that aside for now.
So what animates the Coffee Party? From a cursory glance at the website, the brew seems to be a fairly typical blend of leftish nostrums. Behold the words of an acolyte:
I have been searching for a place of refuge like this for a long while. . . . It is not Us against the Govt. It is democracy vs corporatocracy
If some Tea Partiers are looking for Galt's Gulch, it would seem that Coffee Party denizens are seeking Chomsky's Cove. And you know what? Good for them. I'm glad that Facebook and other social networking sites exist and allow these folks the chance to get together and express their views. I may not agree with anything the Coffee Party says, but the discussion is worth having.
Will the Coffee Party make a difference, or is it weak tea? Hard to say. As the Washington Post article points out:
The Coffee Party is not so much a party or movement as a slow-drip ripple through online nano-politics. Within the past 10 days, its Facebook fans rose from 3,500 to more than 9,200, which is far more than the 5,900 fans of the central page of Organizing for America, the DNC-funded group supporting President Obama's agenda. What does that mean, though, when nearly 100,000 Facebook users have joined the Tea Party Patriots Facebook page and 1.5 million have joined a joke page titled "Can this pickle get more fans than Nickleback?"I guess I'd interpret it this way: if the Coffee Party has 100,000 Facebook users after 1 year, that would be an indication that the battle is joined. And it's awfully telling that Organizing for America, Obama's Astroturf group, has only 5,900 fans. And although I haven't personally joined the page, I too prefer pickles to Nickleback.
There is a larger message, though -- we are at a point where we need to ask the Really Big Questions about the proper role of government and the implications of the Leviathan that has grown on the Potomac over the last 75 years. The Leviathan has its defenders. Time to engage them. Choose your beverage and let's begin.