The Coffee Party

Still suffering from acute thoughtlessness, aggravated by meatspace drama, but didn’t want the blog to atrophy entirely, so here’s a light post on the Coffee Party Movement.

I heard of them for the first time quite a while back, but didn’t look deeper into it, since it seemed like an act of inconsequential counter-stupidity to the Tea Party, but apparently it has recently grown into a full-fledged movement (they even have a convention in Louisville, KY coming up; if it doesn’t get canceled, it will already be more successful than the teabagger convention in Las Vegas, which was “postponed” from July to October just a few weeks prior to the scheduled date “because of the heat”; yeah, right), so it’s worth looking into at least. I still think that, being a counter-movement, it will dissolve almost immediately the moment the teabaggers disappear, but as far as I’m concerned that could be a win-win situation: either the teabaggers will disappear; or there will be a pretty liberal/independent counter-movement to balance out their utter stupidity with some actual democratic activism.
The most interesting article about the Coffee Party that I found while trawling the internet for information about is was this blogpost by a centrist and former participant in it. It was interesting for the inside view of the Coffee Party (for a localized, supposedly decentralized grassroots movement, there’s decidedly too much talk about the leaders and leadership of “Coffee Party USA”) on the one hand, and for the odd perspective on non-partisanship/independence of the writer on the other, which I think reflects the perspective of a lot of self-declared centrists and moderates: that “independent” and “non-partisan” always has to mean standing exactly between the Republicans and the Democrats; being even slightly (or extremely, for that matter) to the right or left of that dividing line automatically aligns one with one of the two parties. This of course would be news to Bernie Sanders, who is an Independent Senator and a socialist, but seems to be how America views its politics; I blame it on the two party system. The blogpost complains about a perceived non-centrism of the Coffee Party, but quite frankly, I don’t think the U.S. needs more “bipartisanship” and centrism; what it does need is a real counterweight to the teabaggers, who are yanking the Overton Window sharply to the right. whether the Coffee Party can be such a things is, of course, a separate issue. Anyway, centrist dude also notes the lack of astroturfing and Big Donors, which is good; and the lack of transparency and “leaders” not listening, which is bad. The “unorganized” thing I’m ambiguous about, since I can’t tell whether he really means it’s a mess, or whether (considering his obsession with leadership), he’s just having issues with the sort of “netroots” anarchic, pseudo-organized movement that something that started on fucking Facebook has got to be by default, at least at first.

That aspect of both being a netroots spontaneous organization on the one hand, and being so focused on the founders and the leadership (though, admittedly, that might have just been centrist-dude’s bias, combined with the standard media focus on spokes-people and founders) makes me wonder whether sooner or later, this whole thing will morph into a standard-issue liberal “special interest” organization, or whether it can actually be an independent, glocal cooperative-like movement of people actually organizing around their own interests and needs that would lack the useless top-down management of issues and priorities. Most likely the former, because that’s how things generally develop, which would be too bad. Also, reading over some of the stuff on the Coffee Party USA website, at least some of the members take a similar stance on “independent” as the centrist I quoted earlier, i.e. they have shallow, middle-of-the-road opinions and commit the fallacy of the golden middle a lot. I mean, really, WTF does “I am not for a smaller government or for a large government. I am for right sized government. I am not for no regulations for businesses nor am I for a lot of regulations to manage the businesses. I am for enough, but not too much. I am not for government to cut all spending nor am I for spending wildly, but to spend where it is necessary.” even mean? it’s completely pointless rhetoric that tries to score points on the “I’m not an extremist like those people” talking-point. meh.

Also, I’m now getting their updates on facebook, and they’re strangely naive. Complaining about Murdoch Media offering infotainment? That’s… weaksauce. Real information sources exist, but expecting the mainstream media to be any good at it, especially in the face of shrinking profit margins and the downsizing on correspondents, investigative reporters, etc. is “political outrage 101”, so to speak. At the same time though, there’s some encouragingly effective activism going on, and at least, it provides a convenient set of activism tools for beginners, which is something I always thought was sorely missing. How to be an activist seemed to be one of those arcane skill sets one acquired by latching on to other, experienced activists (where one would find these experienced activists has of course also been unclear; not like they advertise in the Classifieds section of the paper). Now everybody can figure this stuff out, at least at the basic level.

So, as a whole, the Coffee Party is pretty weak brew (sorry, bad pun), but probably an excellent starting point for newly engaged/enraged people who want to become more active in their own democracy. If this becomes a mainstream-ish movement, and if even a small fraction of Coffee Partiers continues their journey into Advanced Activism, that will be a pretty good result, I think.

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9 comments on “The Coffee Party

  1. David Marjanović says:

    Have to dump my thoughts here before progressing to the fourth paragraph. :-) First of all, your “acute thoughtlessness” reminds me of Darren Naish, who starts easily half of his posts with “I have no time, here’s just a quick picture-of-the-day post” and ends them, five screens and ten references later, with “whoops, that was another full-length article, *sigh*”.

    But enough with the toadying. (Toads are best left to Darren.) There’s one thing I think you should have expressed more clearly: if “independent” means “precisely in the middle between the two parties”, it means Independents are strongly dependent on both parties, because they need to know all the positions of both parties so they can put theirs exactly in the middle. Actual independence would mean not to fucking care about what the established parties think. <sad attempt at stern face>

    “because of the heat”

    In air-conditioned America! ROTFL! “Heat” my ass and the two pillows between it and the cushioned chair! :-D

    decidedly too much talk about the leaders and leadership of “Coffee Party USA”

    That’s something that strikes me about political discussions in the US all the time. It’s a culture shock. Speaking German, I always get that allergic reaction to the word “leader”…

    I’m now getting their updates on facebook

    So that’s the true reason you joined. :-)

    At the same time though, there’s some encouragingly effective activism going on, and at least, it provides a convenient set of activism tools for beginners

    Do tell us more. :-9

  2. Jadehawk says:

    First of all, your “acute thoughtlessness” reminds me of Darren Naish, who starts easily half of his posts with “I have no time, here’s just a quick picture-of-the-day post” and ends them, five screens and ten references later, with “whoops, that was another full-length article,

    I have plenty of time, so length is not the problem. I’m just currently not able to have particularly deep, interesting, and/or original thoughts. A long-ass, superficial commentary on the Coffee Party doesn’t qualify as any of those.

    There’s one thing I think you should have expressed more clearly: if “independent” means “precisely in the middle between the two parties”, it means Independents are strongly dependent on both parties, because they need to know all the positions of both parties so they can put theirs exactly in the middle. Actual independence would mean not to fucking care about what the established parties think.

    well, that’s what “independent” would mean anywhere else in the world.
    In a country with only two viable parties, you’re either voting Republican if you’re anywhere right-of-center, or Democrat if you’re anywhere left-of-center, and you’re an “Independent” only if you vote equally for both; if you vote 3rd party, you’re a “Moron”; if you don’t vote at all you’re an “Anti-Statist” (or a lazy ass). This is why there’s no really visible left in the U.S.: almost all of them vote Democrat anyway, while the party pretends they don’t exist (or alternatively, complains at their complaints)

    So that’s the true reason you joined. :-)

    no.

    Do tell us more. :-9

    nothing to tell; they have “toolkits” on their website for Americans who want to get more actively involved in politics in different ways.

  3. David Marjanović says:

    A long-ass, superficial commentary on the Coffee Party doesn’t qualify as any of those.

    *hug* OK, I’ll admit it isn’t earth-shattering. But it’s so much better than nothing! I had no idea of the Coffee Party whatsoever, and I can’t be the only one.

    As I’ve already said, I hardly expect anyone to have any original thoughts these days. My papers all have long-ass reference lists (and IMHO they should all be a bit longer still), but contain maybe two or three original thoughts each (even the paper with the 51 pages), and on average half of those come from my coauthor. What matters more is to get other people’s thoughts across to an audience and to point out the connections between those thoughts, and that’s something you’re good at even right in the middle of meatspace drama.

    …Reading my comment again, I think I should have made clear what that comparison to Darren means. The length of his posts isn’t due to filler or repetition; it’s all information, information, information, information – and pleasant to read in one sitting, so I’m sad when I reach the end.

    In a country with only two viable parties, you’re either voting Republican if you’re anywhere right-of-center, or Democrat if you’re anywhere left-of-center

    But if you don’t fit the scheme? OK, nowadays the Reptilians are so far off in la-la land that everyone fits on the left-right axis, but weren’t there once people who had an eclectic stance, who claimed to be with the Democrats on social issues, with the Republicans on taxes & spending, with Bill Clinton on “it’s the economy, stupid”, with the later stages of Reagan on diplomacy…?

  4. David Marjanović says:

    I should have added that I don’t get cited for my original thoughts, or if, then not much. The papers I’ve read that cite me do so because of my work, the application of almost entirely unoriginal methods to data collected by other people.

  5. Ewan R says:

    you’re either voting Republican if you’re anywhere right-of-center, or Democrat if you’re anywhere left-of-center

    I’d quibble over this somewhat – imo to be voting republican you have to be pretty far off to the right – democrats then capture the moderate right all the way through to communists (or whatever point people decide they’d rather not vote because despite being the lesser of two evils the politics are just wrong)

    Although this may just be my own slanted view of what center means (I guess part of the bipartisan shindiggery of the US is to essentially define left as Democrat and right as Republican which is one way of looking at it I think – although one which allows both parties to drift dangerously to the right)

  6. Jadehawk says:

    oh ffs Ewan, of course I wasn’t talking about some sort of global center in politics, because then all of U.S. politics would be right-of-center. I meant that strictly locally, where “center” is defined as that ever-shrinking space between the Democrats and Republicans.

    But if you don’t fit the scheme? OK, nowadays the Reptilians are so far off in la-la land that everyone fits on the left-right axis, but weren’t there once people who had an eclectic stance, who claimed to be with the Democrats on social issues, with the Republicans on taxes & spending, with Bill Clinton on “it’s the economy, stupid”, with the later stages of Reagan on diplomacy…?

    that’s precisely what “independent” means, still. You pick and chose from the two parties, and are therefore, on average, between those two parties, because you’d sometimes vote Republican, and sometimes Democratic

  7. Ewan R says:

    Jadehawk – apologies, it’s an aspect of US politics that upsets me so rather than reading for comprehension I just focused in on that one phrase erroneously.

  8. monado says:

    Jadehawk, it sounds as if this Coffee Party guy should have taken some good advice about arguments that I once read: if you’re six-of-one and half-a-dozen-of-the-other, don’t bother to weigh in.

    Take care of yourself and don’t stress about blogging.

  9. Jadehawk says:

    hah, how very accurate.

    actually, the last 2 facebook updates I bothered to look at were “if you’re never willing to compromise, you’re just belligerent” and “avoid wedge issues”, which spawned a massive discussion because quite frankly, with a party of no, there is no compromise (only caving in) and there are no non-wedge issues (and if there are, and they become prominent enough, the Republicans will MAKE them into wedge issues).

    It’s a nice sentiment, and quite useful for grassroots organizing and community work, but not for working with the government right now.

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