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March 3rd, 2010
11:00 AM ET

Watch out Tea Party, 'Coffee Party' gaining steam

(CNN) – We've heard a lot about the Tea Party movement recently. It's been spreading like wildfire with tens of thousands turning out for rallies and protests. Now, there is a new political movement also gaining some steam. It is called the Coffee Party USA.

While the two share similar names and a frustration with gridlock in Washington, the similarities may end there. The founder of the Coffee Party USA, Annabel Park, spoke with John Roberts and Kiran Chetry on CNN’s “American Morning” on Wednesday. Below is an edited transcript of the interview.

John Roberts: The question many people might have right off the bat is the Tea Party has got some historical context to it, so why the name the Coffee Party, and why the need?

Annabel Park: First of all, I love coffee. Although at times I definitely like tea as well. But there is actually a historical reference as well. During the American Revolution, after they dumped tea into the harbor, they actually declared coffee the national drink. That was the solution to the problem. So I associate coffee not only with solutions, but also with people working, working hard. Because we need to wake up and work hard to get our government to represent us.

Kiran Chetry: What are some of the principles? What do you guys stand for? What do you want to see change in Washington?

Park: Well, we basically, just like in the American Revolution, are looking for real representation. We don't feel represented by our government right now and we don't really feel represented well by the media either. So 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. That's what we're encouraging people to do by getting together and start the conversation going.

Roberts: We should point out that all of this started on your Facebook page, which now has 64,000 fans. It's just been around for a few weeks as well. We also noticed, too, there's a little survey on there. 61% of people who have responded to the survey say that health care is their number one issue. Is this a political movement that could be built around health care as an issue?

Park: Well, I think what's happening is people are responding to what happened in the past year with the health care debate. Because it was something that is obviously very important to many Americans, and it was reflected in the 2008 election. And since we feel like [the] health care debate showed not only that we are 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. Not only the negativity that we see in the rhetoric and the discussions, but the fact that it's just something very wrong with kind of the system, the entire political system. So we want that change. We want that addressed, because it doesn't matter what issue it is, we can't make progress if we can't even talk to one another. We want to really focus on the political culture.

Chetry: The Tea Party movement really, in some ways, has been a challenge to Republicans to move more toward fiscal conservative ideals. Are you aligned with a party? I mean, as we know, passing health care reform has been a huge goal of liberal Democrats for decades. Are you aligned with the Democrats, trying to get them to move more to the left when it comes to health care?

Park: No. I wouldn't say we're aligned with the Democrats or Republicans or any party. In fact, think most of us feel that kind of that two-party system is an incredibly outdated system. 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. Democracy should start with the sense that we're a community, we share common goals and values, and that there's such a thing as a common good that we're all working towards. And the two-party system really doesn't encourage that way of thinking about it. It is about winning and losing, and we're really tired of it.


Filed under: Opinion • Politics
soundoff (218 Responses)
  1. Dancing Bear

    Disillusioned By “Coffee Party!”

    Firstly, Dorris Paolo – of Gresham, Oregon – may need help. Could someone in Gresham check on her? Her published response to “The Coffee Party,” which I read this morning, on the "OregonLive" blog is the proposal of The “Beer Party” – an idea that is worse than a “Wine Party!” At least wine has anti-oxidants and enzymes and is better for certain Gluten-Intolerant-Types…

    Secondly, I went to “The Coffee Party” at the Bipartisan Cafe… [on Stark St. in Portland] and I’m quite disillusioned by the whole “Beverage Party Pattern” that has been happening in our country. I was mildly interested last year in going to a “Tea Party Meeting” out of curiosity – and may have actually done so, were it not for my concern over violence erupting in the form of beverage-tossing, which was probably completely appropriate for the famous Boston Tea Party…

    Initially I was impressed when I heard “Coffee Party” people clearly willing to discourse with others of differing views. However, it was obvious to me by this morning, that the people of my Beloved PDX area are, in general, all suffering from a massive case of the same Irritable-Bowel-Syndrome that the rest of Collective Humanity is suffering from… I used to think that we had a high percentage of fresh-fruit & granola-eating, bicycle-riding tree-huggers here…

    Sadly, as of about 2:00 on Monday, the organizers of the Bipartisan Coffee Party had [still] failed to keep their promise to upload the photos by Sunday that they had taken of our gathering on Saturday. They had in fact profusely promised a small crowd of us that they would do this – promptly… And literally hundreds of photos had been uploaded by Monday morning from people all over the country – but not our photos, from the Bipartisan. Understand that the photos are truly unimportant in the grand scheme of things… and actually not the point here… but just a foot-note in my observations… Please follow…

    Speaking as a Missionary For Nutrition, I implore of You All… my beloved humankind… to look deeper into the heart of Our Issues on this planet, our only home… They are all more intrinsically connected to the “basics” than all of you are imagining…

    What Humanity Needs is: A “Salad Party Movement” We need to be “actually nourished by actual nutrients” – that come packaged with a high-quality fiber, which works effectively like [and for lack of a better term...] a roto-rooter… And while we’re on the subject, most of you ought to be chewing each and every bite of your food much more than most of you are doing. And you would benefit – in a huge way – by starting to Remember… to take a few extra Slow… and Conscious… and deep… Breaths… several times each day… So I Am continuing my work when I make this gentle suggestion to All Of You… in the most loving way possible:

    “Let us Be… PeaceOnEarth… and “lettuce” begin with Salad!”

    Sincerely, Dancing Bear, Missionary for Nutrition! ❀

    March 20, 2010 at 2:49 am |
  2. Eddie

    The Coffee Party sounds like what the Tea Party could've been....if it hadn't let itself be subverted by corporate conservatives, racists and religious fanatics. I hope this movement gains steam and overwhelms the Tea Baggers.

    March 13, 2010 at 7:02 pm |
  3. Peggy

    Interesting that the sarcastic and downright nasty comments fare coming rom those supporting the Teabaggers. It's a shame that movement has to be notede for their foolishness. Coffee Party may not be perfect but at least its not founded and supported by Freedom Works on Pennsylvania Avenue in DC. Yes, they do share an office with GOP front organizations. Look it up on Google, folks, its right there. I am sick of tof Teabagger rhetoric as are many people of common sense no matter what the party. The GOP extremistists who have hijacked their party have made a lot of sensible Republicans ashamed of what is going on in DC and around the country. Coffee Party may not be perfect but certainly more reasonable and dignified than a bunch of old white screaming nasty fools jumping around waving signs and disrupting meetings carefuly scripted by their GOP handlers. Wonder how many Teabaggers will look up the Coffee Party gatherings and show up to protest them......it will look so funny....a group of quiet sensible people being screamed at and harrassed by the old fools in the tea party.

    March 13, 2010 at 9:53 am |
  4. Donna Goodnight

    If we get rid of the lobbists that will help the squabbling. Too many of our Senators seem more concerned in whats in itt for them instead of doing the job we sent them to Washington to do. We wanted change instead we get fear from the republicans and more negativity than I could ever imagine. Democrats are no better, I think the parties are controlled by their investors instead of the people in their states.
    Glad we have this to express our feelings.

    March 13, 2010 at 8:57 am |
  5. Jorge

    Luke March 8th 2:43 PM I have to remind you that's exactly the way that Hitler and the Nazi's got their machine rolling. Make everyone afraid to speak out against what they know to be wrong until they are convinced its really right.

    March 10, 2010 at 11:17 am |
  6. DSS

    "with liberty and Justice for all." "for all" Sounds like a communist statement like "common good." A real American would want to make sure they sucessed at the expense of others!

    March 9, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
  7. noel

    isn't it interesting that turner's left-wing cnn will report on a supposed movement nobody has heard of but it took them forever to put a real story, noncondescending, out about the tea party movement? i'm not saying, JUST SAYING!!! msnbc is ultra liberal, cnn is just plain old liberal!!! sorry campbell brown, you work for the left of the aisle!!!

    March 9, 2010 at 3:21 pm |
  8. TheLastBrainLeft

    Couple of points raised in the comments:

    1. The Tea Party has no relationship or love for the GOP establishment. In fact, after progressive Democrats, their most important target is the GOP itself.

    2. Nothing wrong with the Coffee Party aligning itself with the administration, but it's supposedly based it's entire existence on not being so.

    3. The Tea Party was indeed a spontaneous reaction which developed independently, it was not funded by corporate interests until much later (after the August recess town hall debacles).

    4. I smell sock, as in sock puppets within these comments. Too many "coffee party" talking points being passed around. Beware of sock puppets, on either side of the fence.

    March 9, 2010 at 3:01 pm |
  9. TheLastBrainLeft

    There is no such thing as a Coffee Party movement. It's an insignificant number of liberals organized by a former Obama official with the intended purpose to advance the unpopular health care legislation.

    Could you guys do some journalism for once?

    March 9, 2010 at 2:54 pm |
  10. john m

    Sean S March 3rd, 2010 4:20 pm ET

    Gee, CNN doesn't get the facts right on anything.
    Annebel Park is not a civil person, she goes around saying that the tea party movement are "dangerous" and calls them "teabaggers" just like the rest of the hostile progressives.
    The Coffee Party is NOT grassroots, all it's leaders are from the ObamaforAmerica group, they even produced videos for him.
    This is the Obama/Pelosi/Reaid's attempt at astroturfing and it's obvous to anyone who vistis the Coffee Party's Facebook, page, which since the expose in many blogs yesterday, is losing members not gaining them.
    -----------–
    yeah and I heard they eat babies and cause cancer.

    March 9, 2010 at 2:32 pm |
  11. UglyHat

    Perhaps it's true that the two party system is lost but it is still very strong. The problem that smaller, newer parties will always have is they feed the enemy.

    Consider if it were just Repub, Dem and Coffee Party. And assume for a moment that most coffee party supporters tend to lean left. The left-leaning votes will be split to some degree. If the republicans stand together they win.

    That is the problem dems currently have. Republicans had no voice. They could not stop anything. Dems could have produced health care reform via supermajority. But they would not (and will not) stand together.

    March 9, 2010 at 2:20 pm |
  12. Wow

    I think it's hilarious that all these people who are shouting 'Socialist!' or 'communist!' usually have no idea what they actually are and what those systems of government entail.

    People are getting far too used to just shouting insults about things they know nothing about.

    If this movement is sincere, then I wish it the best. Fanaticals on both sides have been brainwashing people too lazy to investigate things for themselves that people just shout off labels without even knowing the truth either way.

    If a government is not formed for the 'common' or 'greater' good of a community it serves, than what it the purpose of a government? Policing a people is for a greater and common good, providing protection and care for citizens is for a common and greater good. Democracy is for the voice of the people to find a 'common' ground by which to govern theirselves.

    I guess by some of the definitions of 'communism' that have been thrown about in these comments alone... some people must think that democracy = communism or socialism.

    March 9, 2010 at 2:12 pm |
  13. Tom Trott

    Simply put, this is SOCIALISM in the guise of democracy.

    March 9, 2010 at 1:38 pm |
  14. Daniel

    I really appreciate all of the intelligent comments posted here. The Coffee Party movement seems much more of a moderate voice of reason than the livid, uninformed Tea Party with their decidedly conservative right leanings. I agree that the two party system is broken and seemingly unfixable and that the voice of the people needs to be heard loud and clear. For the Tea Party to assume that they speak for every American is arrogant and self righteous. We all need to reach a common middle in order for this once great nation to prosper again and not force our ideologies upon one another. I feel that the left is far more open to reaching out to the right – than vice versa.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:19 pm |
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