September 29, 2022

Coffee against tea: a political movement is brewing

Members of the Coffee Party’s Seattle chapter discuss politics at a cafe on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Coffee Party leaders held 350-400 events Saturday across the country
  • “Just like in the American Revolution, we are looking for true representation,” says the founder
  • The first action of the group will take place on April 27, during the Easter holidays of the Congress

Washington (CNN) – The new Coffee Party movement called its official launch on Saturday a “huge success”, with dozens of discussions held in cafes across the country as members gathered to discuss the issues most important to them. them.

Presented by many as a response to the conservative Tea Party movement, the Coffee Party was born on Facebook just six weeks ago. As the band became an instant hit online – it has more than 141,000 Facebook fans on Saturday – measuring the success of this weekend’s coffee get-togethers should be an indicator of the band’s strength.

A statement released by the party said, “Today’s coffees were a huge success – both for Coffee Party USA and for democracy. Across the United States, Americans from all political persuasions are seated for a civil conversation and, of course, a coffee.”

At Java Monkey in Decatur, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, coordinator Stacey Hopkins said attendance far exceeded expectations, with about 60 people attending the “very productive” meeting where health care reform was discussed. the primary problem.

“We had kids there, we had college students, high school kids and we had retirees,” she said. “It crossed a very wide spectrum of age and race, and that’s what we’d like to see.”

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In Asheville, North Carolina, about 35 people gathered at Filo Pastries and Coffee, according to CNN iReporter Rachael Jernigan, a stay-at-home mom who coordinated the meeting.

“I think the biggest thing that came out of it was that people were tired of being labeled and divided,” said Jernigan, who added that a Tea Party member was among the attendees. “They agree on a lot of things.”

About 30 people came to a meeting in Raleigh, North Carolina, during Cup A Joe, CNN iReporter Davis Hall told CNN.

“I really liked what the coffee movement has said about the foundation — which is to bring everyone from all walks of life together,” Hall said.

The meetings were among some 350 the party planned to hold on Saturday.

Coffee Party founder Annabel Park, who volunteered for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and the campaign of Democratic Senator Jim Webb of Virginia in 2006, says the group is “not aligned” with any party and calls the outdated two-party system.

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Park said the uphill battle over health care is an example of how government doesn’t work.

“We feel like the health care debate has shown not only that we are a very divided country, but that there is really something wrong with our political process. We have somehow been able to seeing the guts of the political process and realizing there’s something very broken there. I think that’s what we’re responding to.”

The party’s statement said the next step “is to dig deeper into what our community has discussed (and) find out what matters most to them.” Park said the Coffee Party’s first real national action will take place on March 27, when members meet to discuss ways to engage members of Congress over the Easter recess.

“Just like in the American Revolution, we’re looking for real representation right now. We don’t feel represented by our government right now, and we don’t feel really well represented by the media either,” Park said. last week on CNN. “American morning.” “It’s kind of a simple call to action for people to wake up and take control of their future and demand representation. And that requires people to stand up and speak up.”

Sound familiar? Tea Party activists use much of the same language to describe their year-old protest movement, rooted in fiscal conservatism and seething, anti-tax rhetoric.

“It’s a response to how they’re trying to change our government,” Park told CNN, referring to the Tea Party. “It’s their methodology that we’re up against. We may want the same things, but their background alienates us so much.”

So what does the Tea Party movement think of this new sensation?

“This Coffee Party feels like a weak attempt at satire or a fabricated response to a legitimate and widespread grassroots movement,” says Brendan Steinhauser, director of federal and state campaigns for FreedomWorks, a conservative nonprofit that helps train people. volunteer activists and provided much of the organizational weight behind the Tea Party movement.

“It’s top-down and it’s not a grassroots bottom-up movement,” said Jim Hoft of the St. Louis Tea Party.

CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.