Organizing the Coffee Party
When I heard about Annabel Park's grassroots coffee party movement and her background in the Obama campaign it piqued my curiosity. The two most recent Obamaganda projects; pro-Obama letters to the editor (see Ellie Light) and the even less successful pro-Obamacare push on the conservative talk radio airwaves, were reliant on individual action supported and inspired by the future former president's propaganda machine. The coffee party movement represents a shift back towards the sort of large scale community organizing that helped Team Obama win in 2008.
The Coffee Party USA website gave the time and locations of the March 13th "National Coffee Party Day" meetings and after some consideration I registered for the Milwaukee, Wisconsin event. Saturday morning I drove to the Alterra Café. As soon as my PGTOB (pre government take-over Buick) entered the parking lot I knew that this was the right place, there wasn't an SUV, Truck or full size domestic car to be seen. I backed into a parking place in the rear of the lot, careful to conceal my "Impeach Obama" bumper sticker, walked past the numerous Hybrids and sub-compacts and quietly slipped into the café.
Once inside I found my way to the atrium where the coffee partiers were gathered. Although the folks who had gathered there seemed perfectly harmless, I still felt as out of place as a member of the Obama administration in a private sector job. I signed in, introduced myself and made small talk with several of the participants (being careful not to reveal myself as a conservative) until the meeting was called to order.
The meeting facilitator was a nice young lady named Sarah who said that she was a scientist by trade. Sarah gave us some of her reasons for joining the coffee party movement; her disenchantment with the partisanship and incivility in Washington, her frustration with the lies and misinformation being spread about healthcare reform, the anger of the tea party movement and the need for the people's voice to be heard. Not surprisingly Sarah is an ardent Obama supporter who also fully endorses Obamacare.
After Sarah's opening remarks our burgeoning crowd of 30 broke into small discussion groups, not unlike a White House summit. One by one we introduced ourselves and told of our reasons for joining the movement. Our group included a grad student, a public school teacher, a state employee, a house-husband, a nurse, a retirement home care-giver, a community organizer (go figure), two retirees and at least one undercover conservative observer. My comparison of Obama to Jimmy Carter and our nation's dire need for another great leader like Ronald Reagan was not well received.
Next we were directed to discuss what we felt were the most important issues facing America. The consensus of our collective was that healthcare reform was far and away the biggest challenge for our nation. There was no discussion of specifics, just tired rhetoric about the need for universal coverage. When I asked if anybody could give me some ideas to help convince my conservative friends why Obamacare would be good for America, there was a moment of silence.
The "brainstorming" session became increasingly hard to follow as everyone seemed to be talking at once in liberal gibberish. Suddenly our scruffy grad student (Steve?) caught my attention by shifting the conversation to climate change. I bit my tongue as he told us that he have finally given up trying to convince "right wingers" about the dangers of man-made global warming because no matter how much evidence was presented they continued to deny the science. As he explained it, the best course of action was to promote "green energy", conservation and recycling as just being the right thing to do...until we can figure out how to pass Cap and Trade.
My head was spinning, when from across the room I heard a woman talking about how the Oil Companies were spreading lies about the Prius because it was too fuel efficient! Could sitting in a room full of liberals be causing me to hallucinate?
Finally the end was in sight. Emails were collected and initial plans for another meeting were discussed, then each group was to make a poster (it is always a relief when there is an artist in the group) for the 1st coffee party picture.
Clearly this was no tea party. At least for the time being my fears about this movement have been allayed. If the Milwaukee coffee party is any indication, the movement will be little more than a blip on the political radar screen. The participants that I met were basically good, albeit misguided and misinformed people who lack the passion and drive to fuel a genuine movement.
One final note. The tea party movement has been criticized for being "racist" because of the alleged lack of minority participation. The Milwaukee coffee party that I attended did not have a single member of any minority group, although I strongly suspect that the alternative lifestyles community was well represented.