I get it. It is clever. And I completely agree with the message that the Coffee Party is putting out:
We recognize 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 in order to address the challenges that we face as Americans.If you follow them, you will also hear a lot about civility in public discourse, clearly a response to the childish antics of teabaggers that we witnessed last summer during the health care town halls.
I am totally in agreement with them on this, so what are my qualms with the Coffee Party? It is indicative of what I have always liked least about the progressive movement: we are far too often responding, always reacting and never acting.
There is no shred of doubt in anyone's mind that the Coffee Party is a response to the Tea Party. It shouts it in the name. "Hey look at me! I'm not like that radical group of whackos that seem to get wall-to-wall coverage!" And it shouts it again when you look at the description. "I swear, I'm like, totally, nothing like those freakin' teabaggers! Really!"
When Republicans controlled Congress and the White House it made some sense to be responding. They led the agenda and the best we could hope for was to fight it. Yet with full control we are still stuck there far too much. We propose health care reform yet spend the first several months of the debate responding to accusations of death panels and rationing.
I have grown tired of responding. And while I cannot make claims that I will stop any time soon, I certainly will not be joining any Responders Anonymous. I will not join a group that would never exist were it not for the teabaggers. I will not dignify their nuttiness. We have more potential to act and not react than we have had prior to this in my lifetime, so I apologize to my progressive friends if I find little excitement in the Coffee Party. I do, however, find excitement in the thought of civil discourse and using collective will to shape a government that works for the people. Yet I see little hope of that happening when we cannot stop giving these radicals attention, let alone naming groups after them.
This is not treating the teabaggers for what they are, a rather frustrated group representing a very tiny segment of the nation. They absolutely do not deserve the coverage they get. And part of that is our responsibility. We should not be treating them with respect. And frankly, when you make a group that is so blatantly and solely a response to the teabaggers, you elevate them.
We should be treating the teabaggers as what they are, the whacko base of the Republican party and nothing more. These are the racists, radical anti-Democrats, and conspiracy nuts of the right and nothing more. These are the same folks who protested the counting of ballots in Florida and nothing more:
These are the same folks we have been stuck responding to for far too long. And while we will surely be obligated to respond for the rest of time, can we not work to shift the balance our way a little? Can we not use what little influence we have to give more attention to our ideas and less to theirs?