Group countering Tea Party movement growing in strength
Mar 04, 2010
NEW YORK - Just when the conservative Tea Party movement appeared to be spreading across the United States, a radically different vision of America has emerged, courtesy of Facebook.
Its title might not be imaginative, but the Coffee Party USA is making waves. In just one month, its Facebook page has more than 50,000 fans; and supporters of this left-of-centre alternative were logging their interest at a rate of a thousand an hour as of Tuesday.
Ms Annabel Park, a documentary filmmaker, started up the Facebook page in response to the growing number of "Tea Party" coalitions, made up largely of Republican voters who have been speaking out against President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress.
Democrats have watched in horror as Tea Partiers have surged to prominence by advocating fiscal discipline, reducing the role of the federal government and opposing Mr Obama's health care plans as financially ruinous.
Now, the Coffee Party is calling for its supporters to "Wake Up and Stand Up". Its mission statement declares that the federal government is "not the enemy of the people, but the expression of our collective will, and that we must participate in the democratic process".
Local chapters are planning meetings in cities from Washington to San Antonio to Los Angeles.
The party is planning nationwide coffee houses for March 13, where people can gather to decide which issues they want to take on and even which candidates they want to support.
"We're not the opposite of the Tea Party," Ms Park said. "We're a different model of civic participation, but in the end we may want some of the same things."
Like the Tea Party groups, it is using Facebook and Twitter to spread the word and to encourage individuals to form local outposts. Already some 45 Coffee Party chapters in at least 30 states have been set up.
The coffee metaphor helps: "It's unfortunate that Tea is no longer soothing," posts one supporter on Twitter.
"It now makes me tense." AGENCIES
Coffee Party Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/coffeeparty#!/coffeeparty?v=info