Coffee Party Calls for Civic Discourse

There will be no shortage of coffee at the Coffee Party kick-off event this weekend. Documentary Filmmaker Annabel Park began the Coffee Party as a way to foster dialogue about how to make government more accountable to the people.

Coffee Party members create posters displaying the issues they're concerned about.
A comment on the group’s Facebook fan page states, “We are calling on our fellow Americans to join us for open, civil dialog and constructive civic participation no matter what their current political dispositions are.”

Today group sympathizers will gather in coffee houses across the country to talk about their hot-button issues. They will create posters reading “Coffee and [an issue]” and then take group pictures to be posted on the group’s Flickr page. Right now the new Coffee Party has no official platform.

Even though the group claims to be non-partisan, its founder has made comments that might give away the sentiments of many group sympathizers. In a video, Park claims that Republicans are “strategically obstructing any form of progress.” She continues with an allusion to perhaps the Republican Party or the Tea Party, saying (after the jump):

…we object to obstructionism, and extreme political tactics that are, I think, fear-based, not reality-based, and in many ways just deliberate misinformation…

The Facebook fan page has exploded to over 122,000 members in the past few weeks. The comments on the page vary, but one member wrote:

I LOVE Socialism and want the government to run health care and MOST means of production…

The commenter continued by misquoting Jesus and demanding a single payer system. Admittedly, the group commentator asked this man to “give it a rest for one night.”

In general, the group seems to be attracting more Democrats than Republicans. They call for “affordable healthcare and education,” on their Facebook page, but also for “government to cut wasteful spending and practice fiscal discipline.” Many potential supporters probably see the Coffee Party as an alternative to the ideology espoused by the Tea Party.

Park emphasizes her belief that the Tea Party does not represent her opinions.  She believes, rather, that her group is “representing ordinary Americans” and that it’s in the majority. The Coffee Party hopes to gain more influence in policy-making than the Tea Party has attained.

Will the Coffee Party succumb to intra-party disagreements on policies and issues, or will it be a grassroots force in demanding change in Washington? It will also be interesting to watch for how much coverage the movement receives and compare it to the amount of coverage that the Tea Party movement initially received.

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