March 13th, 2010
11:02 AM ET
12 years ago

First big test for the Coffee Party

Washington (CNN) – Will the Coffee Party rise to the scale of the Tea Party movement? Saturday is the first big test in attempting to answer that question.

Leaders of the fledgling movement say they plan to hold some 350 to 400 events across the country. While the Coffee Party has become an instant hit online, gauging the success of Saturday's coast to coast coffee parties could be an indicator of the group's strength.

The founder of the new Coffee Party movement says "we need to wake up and work hard to get our government to represent us."

Angry at what she perceived as media overexposure of the conservative Tea Party movement, Annabel Park, a 41-year-old Washington-area documentary filmmaker, used her Facebook page to call for a Coffee Party.

Friends started replying, and replying and replying. Park then set up a fan page called "Join the Coffee Party Movement." A flood ensued and now Park has approximately 115,000 fans, most of them coming in the last 15 days, following articles about the Coffee Party in the Washington Post and New York Times, and coverage on the cable news networks.

So what's her goal?

"Just like in the American Revolution, we are looking for real representation right now. We don't feel represented by our government right now, and we don't really feel represented well by the media either," Park said last week on CNN's American Morning. "It's kind of a simple call to action for people to wake up and take control over their future and demand representation. And it requires people standing up and speaking up."

Sound familiar? Tea Party activists use much of the same language in describing their year-old anti-big government movement.

So is the Coffee Party a progressive response to the Tea Party?

"It's a response to how they are trying to change our government," Park tells CNN. "It's their methodology that we are against. We may want some of the same things, but their journey is so alienating to us."

Park, who worked as a volunteer for Barack Obama's presidential campaign and Democratic Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia's 2006 campaign, says the Coffee Party is not "aligned" with any party and calls the two-party system out of date.

"It encourages people to think of politics as a kind of game, like a football game, in which there are two sides, and it's a zero sum situation. If one person wins, the other person loses. That's really not a healthy way to conduct collective decision-making. That's not a democracy."

Park told American Morning that the bitter battle over health care is an example of how government is not working.

"We feel like the health care debate showed not only that we are a very divided country, but there's something really wrong with our political process. We kind of got to see the innards of the political process and realize there's something very broken. I think that's what we're responding to."

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

"This Coffee Party looks like a weak attempt at satire or a manufactured response to a legitimate widespread grassroots movement," says Brendan Steinhauser (no relation to this reporter), director of federal and state campaigns for FreedomWorks, a nonprofit conservative organization that helps train volunteer activists and has provided much of the organizational heft behind the Tea Party movement.

"It's driven from the top down and it's not a grass roots movement driven from the bottom up," Jim Hoft of the St. Louis Tea Party tells CNN.

Coffee Party gatherings have taken place from coast to coast the past six weeks, and Park says they are growing in number and size. Saturday's events across the country are the next step for a movement barely two months old.So what’s next: Park says the Coffee Party’s first real national action will be on March 27, when members will get together to discuss ways to engage members of Congress during the Easter recess.

soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. Robyn

    They might have better luck if the name of their "party" werent so stupid! The idea behind it is good but the marketing is really bad.

    March 13, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  2. ib

    If this is the liberal version of the tea party we sure don't need it. The liberals are already spending this country into bankruptsy. We need less gov; less spending to get this country back on track.

    March 13, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  3. Stallion

    How cute.....doubt it will last. Do these people who start these groups take anti-depression pills? Haaaaaa.....hope so...

    March 13, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  4. tainopower

    Coffee party? = division on the democrat party . Ill drink. a cup to that.

    March 13, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  5. wanda of Sacramento

    About time... I like this. I'm tired of the tea party movement (SO CALLED) "speaking for most poeple"... Most of us want the govt. to just get some stuff DONE!!

    March 13, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  6. Dean

    Simple, just elect a new government.

    March 13, 2010 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  7. Joe-Wilmington, DE

    I like to think that this is more than just satire. Maybe I am deluding myself, but I also think there is plenty of middle ground allowing practical decisions to be made and translated into meaningful legislation that would be beneficial to the average American.

    There will always be disagreements. However, the disagreements should not completely hamstring the legislative process, which is what we have now.

    March 13, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  8. utahsang

    The coffee is a big hit online with the support of C.N.N. but they have a right to organize it will be interesting to see the differences between them and the tea party I will be watching.

    March 13, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  9. nolabear

    It's typical that "let's talk" is met with an attack by the Tea Party. If they'd been interested in talking those Town Hall Meetings would have looked a whole lot different. I think it would be essential to completely avoid comparison, confrontation and triangulation and use whatever energy the Coffee Party has to invite people into the conversation, as well as to try to have one with Congress that goes much deeper than threats and denigrations.

    March 13, 2010 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  10. jp,michigan

    Tea Party movement is a grassroots movement. Just like a grassroots movement that place Obama in the oval office, another grassroots movement (the tea party) will remove him. Only time will tell what the coffee movement is all about.

    March 13, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  11. Sam Sixpack

    Just more free advertising for the Health Care Scam.

    There is nothing good in the Health Care Scam for you. How will Obama & Co. suck 1/2 trillion dollars out of Medicare? By pulling the plug on your grandmother.

    March 13, 2010 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  12. rick Atlanta

    The Tea Party is funded by major corporation... FOX news for 1... Thats a FACT!

    March 13, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  13. no_longer_dem

    funny how the coffee party has done nothing but get some people together on facebook and they get coverage; it took months for CNN to make mention of the TEA party. nice double standard, CNN

    March 13, 2010 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  14. FM

    OK Coffee Party, Tea Party. What is next then; Cappuccino Party???

    March 13, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  15. Robert

    Good! I hope that this will the Majority and common sense to the country

    March 13, 2010 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  16. Mike

    I'm impressed where do I sign up. Its going to be a tough battle we have to dismantle one of the two main parties, republicans or democrats makes no diff to me neither party is worth their salt.

    March 13, 2010 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  17. ronalde

    the coffee party will prevail,because we will tell the truth no lies or half lies and we will be diversfied with people that really care about this country.

    March 13, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  18. Anonymous

    Just goes to show you that the democrats never had an original idea.

    March 13, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  19. Charles W. Skinner

    Nah. This is a weak attempt to create a counterbalance, and it will fizzle. The choice of the term "coffee" shows it to be such, as the creators are merely attempting to be cute, playing off the acronym without actually understanding the underlying causes.

    The "Taxed Enough Already" (TEA) movement is a coalition of smaller movements that have been growing for a LONG time. Mostly Conservative, pro-states and pro-Individual rights, and mostly wealthy (not rich, as you can have a lot of wealth, and be DEEP in debt at the same time), rural and outer-suburban residents, who feel that Washington has abandoned them as "fly-over" country. These are mostly the voters from the 1994 Republican Revolution who got complacent, and now have seen what that complacency has bought them.

    A Conservative revolution is coming.

    March 13, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  20. stevegee

    Coffee Party, Tea Party, whatever you call it, it's patriotic American citizens who are fed up with the federal government.

    We want our country back - we want far less taxes and spending, and far more freedom and liberty!

    March 13, 2010 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  21. Marty, FL

    Looking forward to the Coffee Party in Orlando.

    Putting down affiliations and restoring civility, Americans discover we have more in common than differences.

    March 13, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  22. Steve Mial

    Elated to see that Moderate Democrats and Republicans as well as well as liberals have stop taking a back seat and broken their silence to become vocal for the majority in this country. Most , in not the majority, of America are right center or left center, however, their voices are often not heard nor are their positions represented or advocated. It's high time the real majority stand up and be counted!!!

    March 13, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  23. del spencer

    GOD-BLESS this was long over-do

    March 13, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  24. TOTUS 4 PRESIDENT

    Looking at the wacked out loony libs of the coffee party, I think they need to shift over to decaf...

    March 13, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  25. james

    The Tea-Party is an astroturf movement. There is nothing grassroots about it. They are just conning people too stupid to: realize they are being manipulated: realize that they are living in 2010 not 1774 or 1988. Enough of this Revolutionary or Reagonomic rhetoric get real, get now.

    March 13, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
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