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Coffee Party

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The Coffee Party is a self-described independent grassroots political movement, whose rapid growth illustrates the effectiveness of Internet-based social networking in mobilizing people. While not dismissing the idea, several journalists have been unable to resist using headlines such as "Espresso yourself."[1] There was more serious speculation if a grassroots approach with less anger than the Tea Party Movement could gain popular traction in a highly polarized environment. Ironically, the organizing manuals for the major political parties have long spoken of "holding coffees" at the local level, rather than "holding teas."

The Coffee Party was formed by Annabel Park, a former strategy analyst for The New York Times, as a progressive alternative to the conservative Tea Party Movement. The Coffee Party movement grew out of a rant by Park, delivered in a status update over the social networking website Facebook, over the Tea Party's obstructionist tactics and vitriol. [2]

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 [sic] it sounds elitist...let's get together and drink cappuccino and have real political dialogue with substance and compassion.[3]

Internet presence

Park's frustration apparently tapped into a widely shared sentiment: Within weeks of its founding in late January 2010, the movement's Facebook group drew more than 60,000 fans and attracted national media attention from The New York Times, the Washington Post, and MSNBC.

The current page, Join the Coffee Party Movement, does tend to have more calls to action. These appear often to take on American progressivism or union positions. [4] In Facebook discussions, some have questioned this approach, given that the moderator speaks of moving beyond a left-right paradigm.

Policy

Perhaps due to its spontaneous origin, the Coffee Party started with no policy platform. Its focus is instead on process: The group seeks to reform, rather than reduce, federal government, with an emphasis on constructive civic engagement to blunt the political power exercised by corporate interests and lobbyists.

It now has a mission statement:
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.[5]
Their civility pledge states:
As a member or supporter of the Coffee Party, I pledge to conduct myself in a way that is civil, honest, and respectful toward people with whom I disagree. I value people from different cultures, I value people with different ideas, and I value and cherish the democratic process.

Criticism

On WorldNetDaily, Robert Ringer, called them "ignoramuses or Marxists", and said it was a mildly concealed progressive agenda. Responding to their call for cooperation in government, he wrote "This is code for "conservatives and libertarians should go along with Obama's socialist agenda." Personally, I don't want to see "cooperation" in Washington. Like most Americans, I want to see government gridlock. Giving these scoundrels our money is one thing; having them use it to impose more laws on us is another. " He went on to say that "Government is the enemy of the people, because it violates the natural rights of its citizens. The Founding Fathers repeatedly warned us to distrust government. It is the very attitude of the coffee-party people that has brought the U.S. to the verge of collapse and dictatorship. " [6]

References