COMMENTARY | About a year ago, a group of liberals, alarmed at the rising power and influence of the tea party protest movement, founded something called the coffee party, which was supposed to be a left wing answer to the conservative oriented tea partiers.
As Ben Smith is now reporting in Politico, things have not quite turned out as planned.
“Launched with high hopes last year and seen by some as a progressive answer to Tea Party, the party has instead been an example of the failure to counter the power and energy of the tea party movement — and its own board members are portraying it as an organizational disaster.
“This week, the organization also announced the dissolution of the interim board this week, and three board members lashed out against the two cofounders in response.”
The reasons given for the melt down of the coffee party include a lack of democracy, a lack of civility, and a lack of consultation. A cynic might suggest that these things are inevitable, as they are characteristics of modern liberalism.
The tea party protest movement arose, practically spontaneously, in the early weeks of the Obama administration in response to the then new president’s plans to greatly increase spending and the size and scope of government. For the next two years, mass protests erupted across the country and members of Congress found themselves confronted by angry constituents at town meetings. The tea party was the great cause of the tsunami that swept so many Democrats out of power in 2010 and is now making its influence felt in Congress as the struggle continues to rein in the deficit. Politicians like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann have become political super stars because of Tea Party support.
Why has the tea party succeeded while the coffee party failed?
While there has been some back-biting behind the scenes, the tea party generally operates in a spirit of cooperation to further a common agenda. That agenda is to restraint government spending and to shrink the size and scope of government. The goals are more important, for the most part, than the individual egos of the tea party leaders, who are many and obscure. The tea party is the greatest real world example of Glenn Reynolds’s “An Army of Davids,” ordinary people banding together in a diverse fashion toward a common goal.
By contrast, the coffee party, which doesn’t seem to have an agenda beyond a vague kind of opposition to the tea party, seems to have become all about egos and personal agendas. Unlike the tea party, the coffee party seems to run from a centralized hierarchy. Hence the internal politics have just about overwhelmed the coffee party and has all but doomed it to ineffectiveness.
Sources: The Coffee Party and its discontents, Ben Smith, Politico, March 26, 2011
Obama and the New American Tea Party Protest Movement, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, February 28th, 2009
The Tea Party March on Washington Draws Hundreds of Thousands, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, September 12, 2009
Sarah Palin Addresses Tea Party Convention, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, February 7th, 2010