Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
Leading up to today’s “National Coffee Party Day” – the countrywide launch of a leftwing movement meant as an answer to the tea parties – a CNN article asked, “Will the Coffee Party rise to the scale of the Tea Party movement? Saturday is the first big test.”
If “scale” is indeed the measure by which the Coffee Party will be graded, however, today’s cup-o’-Joe kickoff has earned a resounding “F.”
Despite a news-media buildup over the past few weeks from CNN, MSNBC, New York Times, National Public Radio, Washington Post, Seattle Times and dozens of other outlets, the estimated 350 coffee houses hosting events around the country today welcomed mostly minuscule crowds.
By contrast, Alex Pappas of the Daily Caller reports showing up to a Washington, D.C., coffee party at Peregrine Espresso in the Eastern Market area today, “only to find a small gathering of five activists huddled at a small table.”
A columnist for the Kansas City Star reports a better turnout in her city, counting about 40 attendees.
Huffington Post columnist Tamar Abrams claims to have attended a separate coffee-party gathering in the nation’s capital led by anti-war activist Andy Shallal and CodePink founder Medea Benjamin and covered by a CNN camera crew.
About 50 people showed up.
Kansas City’s group and Abrams’ gathering, however, may be the exceptions to the rule – exceptionally large, that is.
The San Francisco gathering lists 15 attendees; Blacksburg, Va., lists 6. The coffee party at Hyde Park in Chicago, where President Obama lived for years, apparently only managed three.
WND contacted The Coffee Party USA for more precise headcounts, but received no reply.
The organizer of a coffee party in Winston-Salem, N.C., however, told WND the website underestimated the size of his gathering, listing attendees at 18, while 28 actually signed in.
The coffee-party movement got its start only a few weeks ago when documentary filmmaker Annabel Park felt frustrated both over the news coverage the tea parties were receiving and over a perceived lack of representation of her viewpoints in Washington.
“We need to wake up and work hard to get our government to represent us,” Park told CNN. “The health-care debate showed not only that we are a very divided country, but there’s something really wrong with our political process. We kind of got to see the innards of the political process and realize there’s something very broken. I think that’s what we’re responding to.”
Park was prompted to update her Facebook page as a way of venting her frustration:
“Let’s start a coffee party – a Red Bull party – anything but tea,” she wrote. “Let’s get together and drink cappuccino and have real political dialogue with substance and compassion.”
Despite the “anything but tea” comment, Park doesn’t want to see the coffee party chalked up as just an anti-tea-party movement.
“It’s a response to how they are trying to change our government,” Park told CNN. “It’s their methodology that we are against. We may want some of the same things, but their journey is so alienating to us.”
After word of her call for a coffee party began getting out, Park was suddenly inundated with interview requests from major news outlets. After the articles hit the newsstands and cable-television networks, her newly formed “Join the Coffee Party Movement” Facebook page generated over 140,000 fans.
Judging by the numbers that showed up for today’s events, however, the coffee in America is still a far weaker brew than the nation’s tea.
“They will make an effort to project this as the voice of a new ‘grass-roots’ and ‘bipartisan’ political coalition,” commented Barry Willoughby, one of the leaders of a loose confederation in Florida calling itself the Naples Tea Party, in a Naples News opinion piece. “Does one really think the coffee party will receive a grass-roots/bipartisan mantle that has forever eluded the left?”
Willoughby then quotes a comment made by Charles Martel on Red State: “The problem with this, and any other wannabe leftist tea-party equivalent is this: The tea party began and has flourished because those involved felt – rightly – that they had no voice in our country today, that they were being ignored or outright mocked by government and the media. The tea party has given us back power and a voice.
“Any such group on the left is going to run into the very real problem that they already have a voice,” writes Martel. “The media, Hollywood, academia, basically the entire government – they’re all saying the same thing this Coffee Party will be saying. And the movement loses any motivation and drive right from the get-go.”
Park, however, disagrees.
“Just like in the American Revolution, we are looking for real representation right now,” she said last week on CNN’s “American Morning.” “We don’t feel represented by our government right now, and we don’t really feel represented well by the media either.”