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Progressives Don’t Need a Coffee Party — But We Sure Could Use More Caffeine

Progressives Don’t Need a Coffee Party — But We Sure Could Use More Caffeine

Maybe it’s because I prefer drinking tea to get my morning caffeine rush, but the first thing I thought of when I heard that progressives were going to create a “Coffee Party” as a response to the whole Tea Party movement was this awful old commercial:

A Coffee Party?  Seriously? 

Talk about unoriginal.  Talk about knee-jerk.  Talk about playing defense.  And why?  Because a bunch of folks on the right decided to use the term “Tea Party” to describe their efforts to label Obama as a socialist, communist, un-American, Hitler, and/or Kenyan-born.

I understand the sentiment that led to the many Coffee Party events over the weekend.  We progressives should be doing a better job of organizing ourselves.  (And despite assertions to the contrary, this is a progressive movement.)  I’m all in favor of our doing everything we can to support President Obama’s agenda.  But establishing yet another organization — especially one with a cutesy jokey name — is, at best, naive. 

Progressives don’t need a Coffee Party.  We just need more caffeine. 

The challenge right now isn’t a lack of mobilization mechanisms — after all, other groups, including MoveOn, Organizing for America, and a little thing called the Democratic Party already exist.  The real problem is that we progressives are apathetic, scared and demoralized.  We look at the energy generated by the right and wonder what happened to our mojo.  We see the Republican Party’s steadfast opposition to all Administration initiatives and moan about how dysfunctional our political system is.

Please.  It’s time for progressives to get angry, not cute. 

We need to get angry about how the right is claiming to represent “real Americans.” 

We need to get angry about how the mainstream media is uncritically swallowing the Tea Party movement’s narrative. 

We need to get angry about how Democrats in Congress are so afraid of their own shadows that they’re listening to their Republican opponents’ advice on how to get re-elected. 

We need to get angry about the failure of the Obama Administration to communicate its significant successes to the American people. 

And we need to get angry about the fact that minor side issues may end up killing the best chance this country has ever had to fix health care.

Creating a “Coffee Party” doesn’t do anything to address these challenges.  Even worse, by picking that name, we are conceding control over how this debate is framed to the most extreme elements of the right wing.  And how long do you think it will take for conservatives to mock us by calling it the “latte party” instead? 

So stop being cute, fellow progressives. Try getting angry instead.  Call your representatives and demand that they support not only health care but a real jobs bill that will help average Americans return to work.  Call the White House and demand that the President do more than give a few speeches to get these bills passed.  Call so-called progressives like Dennis Kucinich and tell them to stop letting the perfect get in the way of the good.  And start uging your friends and neighbors to do the same.

And while you’re at it, maybe you could stop going to Starbucks for a week and send the savings to an existing progressive organization. 

Now that would be a real coffee achievement.

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Photo:  Mortefot, via Flickr, using a CC attribution-share alike 2.0 generic license
Charles J. Brown is Senior Fellow and Washington Director at the Institute for International Law and Human Rights and the host of Undiplomatic, a blog on the intersection of foreign policy, politics, and pop culture.  You also can follow him on Twitter.

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77 comments

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1:14PM PST on Jan 22, 2011

Sounds crazy, eh Donna?
"They are for more social programs and expanding the government by doing so, with the end result of creating more taxes."
Think about the 50s, 60s, 70s when the people enjoyed those conditions. That "Empire" was the people's empire. Education and jobs were the focus. Workers rights insured wages would rise with inflation and they did. A nice house went for $3.5k to $15k +-. The tea party is just Dick Army's puppet so that the fascist right can continue their battle for the corporate state. It's working well for them.
Since the 80s, wages have gone against inflation, workers rights and their unions have all but disappeared. A nice house is $200k and the top 1.5% have taken enough wealth from our economy to send us into a main street depression. Corporate fascism 's hold on our country is now obvious. It begs for social policy. The wealthy were doing just fine paying 71% tax. They were the ones capitalizing on our society but greed struck. We, the people own this country.
Reagan opened the door to corporatism and they smashed the door down.
Please try to understand those social policy decades. The prosperity was unbelievable compared to today. People had a lack of division. The news was open and served the people.

No, no. Don't fall for their propaganda. This is our empire. Not theirs.

12:50PM PST on Jan 22, 2011

If they called it the progressive, pro social democracy party, they wouldn't get it and start yelling "Socialist" over the air ways. Crazy Liberals! The more they think that they win, the less they pay attention to their reps destruction. We're not dealing with the most complex people on earth. That's just the way it is.


5:14PM PDT on Jul 8, 2010

Speaking of old ads, should progressive candidates say "coffee, tea or me?"

12:40AM PDT on Apr 17, 2010

Coffee, tea or any party for that matter is good , as long as some good outcome comes out of it.

11:39PM PDT on Mar 21, 2010

What's in a name? Maybe because I'm a coffee drinker it doesn't bother me. And, believe me, I'm plenty angry.

5:22PM PDT on Mar 21, 2010

Not a catchy name.

5:23PM PDT on Mar 18, 2010

I agree that we on a grassroots level need to unite but the coffee party is not the way. I know some don't agree with everything moveon does so I am going to check out organizing for america and see what I can do to help. It takes every single one of us doing something to really change things.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

2:22AM PDT on Mar 18, 2010

Oh PLEASEEEEEEEEEEE...the left is always angry enough.

I do agree though, what a ridiculous idea...Coffee Party...ah..alrighty then...

Americans do not want a Progressive America, we like it the way our fore fathers founded it.

So good luck with that....Americans are awake and we won't make that mistake again.

But no worries, the Alinsky lovers will change the name again, they always do! When they have been caught and figured out, they go for a name change.

Coffee party....geezzzzzzzz.....

7:01PM PDT on Mar 17, 2010

I actually just looked into this trying to figure out what on earth it was and what coffee stood for. Here's what I came up with...It is a group purposely created to oppose the tea party movement. They are for more social programs and expanding the government by doing so, with the end result of creating more taxes. Hhmmm and acronym must be made for them and if i don't come up with one someone else might. What does everyone think of Crazy Oppositional Fools For the Expanding Empire?
Problems I see, they were not a group created with a real goal only that they wanted to oppose other peoples views.
Also they seem to think that the tea party movement was created by crazy right wing nuts like Limbaugh, etc. instead of the Libertarians like it was. Which means their "movement" is more about party lines instead of actually helping the country.
I really think that if the Democrat party is going to make some serious changes they need to stop being prejudice against anyone not in their party.

2:25PM PDT on Mar 17, 2010

Yes, we need a Coffee Party. I joined one online.

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