16 April 2010

How's the Coffee Brewing?

Tea parties have been in the spotlight this week, as have rumors of leftist agents provocateurs infiltrating them in order to discredit them. Earlier this week I wondered whether people were willing to confront and argue with the TPs rather than just mock them, until it occurred to me that this was where the Coffee Party movement was supposed to come in. So what were the CPs up to this week?

Some local CPs did hit the streets. According to this illustrated report, a local CP held a counter-demonstration in Boise. Fifty CP members showed up to protest the protesters in Wichita yesterday. These are the only counter-demos I've found reports for. CPs elsewhere are still in the organizational stages, from what I could tell. I've seen some pro-tea commentators note this as a failure of the coffee movement, but the TPs themselves inflated the prospect of coffee-driven confrontation, attributing to the CPs, for instance, the inane infiltration strategy proposed by a separate "crash the tea party" organization. It may be, also, that the CPs' mandate for reasonable, rancor-free discussion will make manifestations like those in Boise and Wichita exceptions as a rule. It'd be ironic, from a historical perspective, if the coffee party claimed to represent a "silent majority" while the tea party boasts of its numbers on the ground as proof that it really represents the majority. That would be a reversal of the opposing lines of forty years ago, when President Nixon claimed support from a "silent majority" that outnumbered the antiwar protesters then flooding the streets of America. The tea party's real contribution to American history may be its proof of right-wingers' willingness, after generations of abhorring mob behavior, to show their strength in the streets. What contribution the coffee party will make remains to be seen.

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