Friday, February 26, 2010

Choosing Coffee Over Tea

Funny how the universe works: on Wednesday I ran into an old friend at the grocery store and she immediately started to talk about politics, how disgusted she was by the outlandish rhetoric coming from the Tea Party right, and her frustration with Republican Party obstructionism and Democratic spinelessness.

She said (I swear to God I am not making this up): “I would literally follow anyone right now if they were sane.”

And lo and behold, the Coffee Party has arrived:

You can learn more at their Facebook page.

From what I can tell, the emphasis seems to be on “civility.” It will be interesting to see how long that lasts. I like the emphasis on being rational, on “sanity.” I think one of the problems with the Democratic Party is that people have been trying to be too polite; we waste so much time and energy trying not to offend anyone we end up appearing mushy. Sometimes you just have to tell it like it is, whether someone’s feelings get hurt or not. Hopefully this movement won’t be like that. There's nothing worse than weak coffee.

Coffee Party founder Annabel Park, in a live chat at the Washington Post, was asked if she saw common ground (no pun intended) with the Tea Party. She replied:
It is true that both groups feel that the government is failing us in many ways. I think if we examine the language that some in the Tea Party have been using, there are some things that are alienating to many of us in the Coffee Party: the extreme rhetoric, and the hostility toward the federal government. We would have to ask them tone this down, so that we can focus on actively listening to one another and problem-solving.

Well, we saw how well that went yesterday at the Health Care Summit.

You know, once upon a time I thought the anti-corporate left might have something in common with the Tea Party right, until the nutballs rolled into Nashville with their religious fervor, homophobia, racism and Obama hate. That's when I realized the Tea Partiers were so far off the reservation that there would never be any common ground.

So to Annabel Park I say, good luck with that--and I mean that with all sincerity. Because she’s 100% correct when she says:

In the current climate, too many Americans are afraid to participate, and find the process itself too alienating, because it is dominated by people with extreme opinions and extreme tactics. 

It's hard to speak up when others in the room are screaming.

That’s absolutely true; what I’m not sure of is whether this alienating people from the process was by design or by accident. But good for Park to stand up and offer another way of engaging the electorate, instead of throwing her hands up and saying forget it.

Who knows whether the Coffee Party movement is sustainable and can grow into something meaningful. I’m just glad someone is trying something. 

A National “Coffee House Day” has been scheduled for March 13, where chapters will meet to, ahem, rationally and civilly discuss the issues of the day. So if you’re interested go to their website and see if there’s a chapter near you; if not, try starting one.

Hey, it can’t hurt.

(Note to teabaggers: so far there doesn’t appear to be any fingerprint of George Soros, DailyKos, MoveOn, Starbucks, Whole Foods, or any other “liberal” corporate/DFH entity behind this grassroots movement. Just sayin')