When Annabel Park imagined what it would be like to head a new national political movement, here is what she had in mind: a coming together of engaged, intelligent citizens who had tired of the angry rhetoric and accusations of the Tea Partiers; Americans of all political persuasions joining in a spirit of equanimity to discuss the nation's problems, and maybe even share a laugh. It was this beautiful vision that danced in Park's head on a recent Saturday as she made her way to Busboys and Poets, a cafe in Washington, D.C., for one of nearly 500 Coffee Party meetings taking place nationwide that day. She knew the house would be full—word had spread quickly on the group's swelling Facebook page. Park, a documentary filmmaker, was especially pleased that C-Span had arranged to broadcast the meeting.
So, what do you think? Anything to this? Will this be an actual movement or is it just a passing fad? Does the choice of the name make them out to look like a joke?
Finally, did you notice that Newsweek goes to great pains to throw around the 200,000 number? Read the article closely. This is not 200,000 at one rally, it's their membership numbers.
200,000 is a lot, right? Let's compare.
I have seen estimates of between 13% and 18% of eligible voters identify themselves as Tea Party members. There are little more than 110 million voters in the US. The calculator on my computer says this is between 14 and 20 million people, or, 100 Tea Party members for every coffee party member. Or, put another way, it's 2/10 of a percent of voters.
Now we have to be fair and recognize that the coffee party has not been around as long as the Tea Party, that is not my point. My point is that it is a perfect example of how easily the fringe media can manipulate stories.
How much time do you think Newsweek spends talking about the numbers for the Tea Party? Do they use the 20 million member number? Or the 18% of voters statistic? Not likely.
A person can read this and 200,000 seems like such a large number that it is clearly a ballooning movement. Put into perspective though, it's not even comparable to the number of people who wanted Sanjaya to win American Idol.