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Webb of Virginia's 2006 campaign, says the Coffee Party is not "aligned" with any party and calls the two-party system out of date.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. Linda, Phoenix, Arizona

    Just give us a little time and we will amaze you with our numbers! The majority of Americans are not right wing nut jobs who hate social justice and their neighbors or their President. We are intelligent, well educated citizens who understand how we got to this point in history, who has benefited from illegal war profiteering, who is trying to stop health reform to keep themselves in the money, and what politicians care nothing for this nation. We see how the Siupreme Court just gave our system to corporations, without even being embarrassed at what they did.
    It is time for voices of reason , voices of democracy, voices for the people come to the fore in this great country of ours. The real trick to see if the 'corporate owned media ' give us any time on our public airwaves!

    March 13, 2010 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  2. idesign

    The Coffee party is joke.........

    How dare you call it astroturf? It's "organically grown." CNN said so!

    I guess the left does believe that no stupid idea should go to waste..lmao...

    March 13, 2010 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  3. idesign

    "The Coffee Party?" Doesn't the left understand how stupid that name is? After all, "TEA Party" has roots in our Nation's history and the American Revolution. Where's the connection with "Coffee Party? South America?

    March 13, 2010 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  4. Pablo

    Unfortunately it looks like the Coffee Party is doomed to the same fate as the Democratic Party coming right out of the gates. There is a lot of merit to the idea of abandoning the two party system, but the Tea Party has already declared war on the Cofffee Party, making this just a sideshow to the same idiotic battle between Democrats and Republicans. Especially since the Tea Party claims to be independent of the Republican Party, yet all of the high profile speakers at their rallies are Republican politicians. Go figure!

    March 13, 2010 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  5. idesign

    Dear CNN–why? Why are you selling your soul for a one-term president? You will regret your transgressions.

    March 13, 2010 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  6. idesign

    CNN Runs Another Pro-Coffee Party Piece; Forgets to Point Out the Hardcore Obama Supporters

    March 13, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  7. annie against biased news

    Why isn't this just called what it is acorn/seiu party hired by the clown of a president!

    March 13, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  8. IKHAN

    All the best to the Coffee Party.
    There has to be someone standing up to the anti-American lunatics in the Tea Party & their supporters in the Republicans, the supermacists , the militias etc.

    March 13, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  9. J.C. - Independent 4 Public Option

    I agree that black and white or DNC and GOP creates only gridlocks in D.C.

    We need either lots of parties or no political parties at all so we can participate in this democracy just for the good of the country. We have seen the damage of partisan politics done to our country for too long and I am glad Ms. Park is doing something about it.

    March 13, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  10. Ken, Arizona

    Now this is a movement that I can support.

    March 13, 2010 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  11. dan

    I'd like to see a schedule of events and more information on this party.

    March 13, 2010 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  12. liz

    And the ultimate astroturf movement, the tea party, is accusing the coffee party of being astroturf. proof that there's much more mad hatter than boston patriot about the tea party. they're basically Dick Armey's dick army, a bunch of greedy racists who are working against the best interest of the American people. the coffee party started with one individual person and is growing through social networking and word-of-mouth, it's not being organzied by political operatives and promoted by Faux News like the tea party. i'm hoping the coffee party gets enough attention and membership that it will start positively affecting the way government works. raising my coffee mug to them.

    March 13, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  13. jules sand-perkins

    To the contrary, the battle over health care is a sign that our government IS working as well as a fine Swiss watch, and exactly as it was designed to do.
    The purpose of Congress is not to say "yes, yes" to whatever foolishness the president wants to do. Otherwise, we would not need Congress.
    That's why the founding fathers set it up as they did: anticipating that an Obama might come along, they set up protections against destruction of the nation.

    March 13, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  14. stormerF

    Does this mean if you go into a coffee shop Saturday,you get counted as a coffee organization attendee? What a sham,let them march on Washington,D.C. lets really see their numbers.

    March 13, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  15. PhilG

    Phonies and commies get together, to have a jolly good time. Pravda reporting.

    March 13, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  16. JeanUpshaw

    Thugs from SEIU and ACORN get a new name.

    March 13, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  17. DJ Johnson

    Interesting. I'm part of the problem, sadly, because I agree with Park's assertion that the two party system defeats the idea of a true democracy, but I have neither the faith nor the energy to fight for that change, and I have no faith in the notion that anyone not aligned with either the Democrats or the Republicans can win. At least not in numbers necessary to bring about a properly functioning democracy where we truly are represented. It's badly broken and I don't have any confidence that it can be fixed. And as long as enough people generally agree with that assessment, we're going to be part of the problem.

    March 13, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  18. Tayo

    Very interesting!

    Tea party + Coffee = All dirty politics

    March 13, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  19. Capt. Snarky

    Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

    Sounds like the Tea Parties are finally getting the respect they deserve, and the "left" don't like it that their attempts to belittle those that disagree with them aren't working.

    March 13, 2010 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  20. Opinion-Nation

    If the members can remain civil in their argument, and actually makes sense, then this might turn into something interesting. I'll be keeping up with the brewing process!

    March 13, 2010 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  21. New Age Independant

    Not the first time that liberals have attempted to piggy back on another organization's success. I'm betting this was have the same result. Total failure.

    March 13, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  22. JB

    Can I be a member of both? They both seem to share my feelings.

    The sports analogy is very accurate. Politics is no longer about making all of our lives better. It is now about a winner and a loser.

    The system is broke. Lets all try to fix it by voting EVERY incumbent out.

    March 13, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  23. call me crazy

    The Coffee Party sounds to me to be what the TP' advertise they are, but aren't. They are just a bunch of conservatives trying to get a new republican image without the weeds (bush).

    If they stand for giving Washington a real kick in the butt, I'm all for it.

    March 13, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  24. Latte Sippers, Cool Aide Drinkers

    Can't we all just get along? Hopey,'s that working for you as you sip your morning coffee today?

    Apparently some of us say NO to Obama's lies; his backroom deals for Floridians, the Louisiana Purchase, Labor Unions and the good old Cornhusker Kickback. Chicago politics at its finest. I say keep it in Chicago!

    I shudder to think what the latest deals are. All of them come on the backs of hardworking red blooded Americans who pay their taxes, go to work every day and thank God they have a job to go to. There are those of us who make sure our children are cared for, provided for, do their homework and receive guidance in their lives. That my friend is the American way.

    There is another whole culture of baby mammas and God knows who else out there who don't care. Those are the ones he wants the rest of us to take care of.

    March 13, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  25. all the news that is fit too omit

    Funny how this "network" like all the other networks (except one) had to be dragged kicking and screaming into even reporting on the tea party group (veterans, elderly, Republicans and Independents) but as expected this network like all of the "cabal" are propping this movement up like it is the greatest story ever told.

    Tea partiers UNITE come November as you know what the "Coffee clowns" are ALL the usual suspects with the usual stories.

    No story here, just more of the same liberal lunacy trying to copy THE REAL DEAL.

    The "Coffee Clowns" are a bunch of liberal "drips".

    Number 4 for a reason CNN.......

    March 13, 2010 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
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