Coffee, Tea, and Civility
There was quite a contrast between the Tea Party and the Coffee Party meetings. Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck were at the Tulsa Convention Center this month to kick off their “Take Back the Country Program.” In front of about 6,000 enthusiastic Tea Partiers, they criticized President Obama’s administration, Washington politicians, progressives, journalists, Democrats, liberals, moderates, and conservatives who actually want to conserve something. The ex-governor of Alaska took shots at Obama — whom the crowd booed — and made fun of the Democratic congressional leaders. An animated Beck attacked progressives, saying they are for revolutionary government intrusion and they misinterpret the Constitution as a living document. (He is apparently unaware of the 27 Amendments). The crowd was really upset that they are subject to taxes and regulations and they want to take their country back. A small group of protesters stood outside the Convention Center holding American flags and signs saying “Take our Country Forward” and “Say no to hate and fear-mongering.” That’s not likely as Palin and Beck have found the power of hate and fear -and also the profitability. They each received a large, but undisclosed, fee for their performance.
In contrast, across town was the organizational meeting of the Coffee Party. They are people also unhappy about how things are going in Washington, but they have a very different plan for addressing the problem. The Coffee Party is a National movement being formed from citizens who think that government has a proper role in our lives and who just want it to function. The goals of the Coffee Party are to end the partisanship that has kept the government from functioning, to halt the flow of misinformation, and to end the hate some people have against those who disagree with them. To join the Coffee Party, you just have to agree with the pledge:
I agree to conduct myself in a way that is civil, honest, and respectful toward people with whom I disagree. I value people from different cultures, I value people with different ideas, and I value and cherish the democratic process.
Issues brought up at the Coffee Party meeting were partisanship, health care, the environment, banking reform, the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, job creation, corporate lobbying, the national debt, and the flow of misinformation. The group agreed that an individual could not solve these problems alone, but that we should take “E Pluribus Unum” seriously. We may have very different ideas and viewpoints, but we must put those aside and work together to solve the problems facing us as a country. The most important thing that we can do as individuals is to abide by our pledge and to support candidates, both Democrat and Republican, who are willing to work with the other party in a civil fashion to solve the problems confronting us.