Attending a Coffee Party in Manhattan – Looks Legit to Me

I went to a meeting, today (very late, unfortunately), and it was much larger than the previous one. The people were positive, and if what I saw was typical, not only were they not the OFA shills that some armchair blog posters made them out to be, but most of their concerns seemed to be the same as those of the armchair critics.

E.g., one lady said that “most of us” are concerned about transparency, and really want a grassroots organization. Another said that she had been with MoveOn, from the beginning, and in no way wanted to be involved with another Moveon, as they had exerted top down control and done some other shifty things. Another lady, who was the de facto leader, not only did not want to dictate the structure of the meeting of the now much larger group (and not only had no idea of how the the coffee party ‘leadership’ would want meetings run), she also suggested increasing the number of local meetings, as some of us had come from quite a distance. She believed that Annabel Park and ‘the central leaders’ (whoever they may be) don’t have a much better idea of how to proceed than she did. She suggested attending other Coffee Party meetings, to try and determine whatever best practices were evolving.

Other concerns were with the venue – there was significant background noise, which made hearing difficult. Fortunately, they had not chosen a coffee shop, as most of them are way too small. The bar we met in was big enough, but a ‘normal’ restaurant is probably smarter, because of the noise factor.

Another main concern, though, which IMO is the million dollar question, is how to translate whatever local consensus can be reached into some sort of national effect. Here, I’m afraid, the Coffee Party is at the same disadvantage as every other well-intentioned grassroots movement. The best idea I’ve seen to allow grassroots groups to self-organize into voting blocs of sufficient size to make a difference, is the Interactive Voter Choice System. However, that’s not implemented, yet. This application would semi-automate the formation, merger, and temporary alliance of vote blocs.

The Coffee Party, itself, has some sort of political profile aggregating tool, called the Coffee Sphere. I haven’t had time to take a close look at it, and don’t know if it facilitates voting bloc formation.

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  1. You have been telling us it’s legitimate from the beginning.  You have been trying to get people involved in it from the beginning.

    I would want to hear from someone else about it, if they are “legitimate”.  I don’t believe and don’t agree that it’s not a top down astroturf organization, but were I to be sold on it, it wouldn’t be by you .. and that’s not out of a desire to be rude to you, it’s because you’ve been selling the coffee party on Docudharma since its inception.

    You aren’t an unbiased observer.

    • metamars on March 28, 2010 at 11:59 am
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    The problem going on in our society politically has nothing whatsoever to do with civility or making nice.

    While not the only problem we face, the disenfranchisement of the American public is well served by having propagandists like Rush Limbaugh endlessly demonizing everything Democratic and everything liberal. Also, in a civil atmosphere where diversity of viewpoints is respected, creative suggestions can emerge which don’t satisfy inside-the-Beltway preferred framing. Yes, people can even talk about non-“serious” options like single payer.

    If you really believe what I what you said in the quote, above, why don’t you test your idea by talking to the transpartisan dudes. You can ask them if they were uncivil during their “best of breed” policy development sessions. Ask them if they think they would have made more progress if the lefties had referred to the righties as “nutjobs” or “wingnuts”, and if the righties had referred to the lefties as “America haters” or (in the case of the female lefties) “FemiNazis”. See what they tell you. I dare you to ask them.

    Having said that, there’s also a painfully obvious lack of outspoken – some would say rude – Congress critters who tell the unvarnished truth, the same way George Galloway did when he told off Senators, to their faces.

    So, I would say that we need both more civility, as well as honest bluntness that some would declare uncivil. It really depends on the situation. Even in cases where what some would call less civility is called for, though, it’s not merely for the sake of venting. It’s for the sake of pointing an accusatory finger, not at a difference of opinion, but rather at self-serving lies. Indeed, one could argue that much of the real motivation for what is called “civility” in Congress is that most of our Congress critters are liars. Fostering an environment where self-serving lies are freely pointed out would not serve the professional liars of either the Democratic or Republican Party very well. (And by “professional liars”, I include lying by omission.)

    I’ve known from my Randi Rhodes forum days that some people confuse venting with activism, and some really seem to crave confirmation of their comfortable prejudices more than truth, or a sincere desire for problem solving. Tell me, AndyS, you don’t deny that such people exist, do you?

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