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Coffee or Tea party? Whatever your cup, roll up your sleeves

Coffee or Tea party? Whatever your cup, roll up your sleeves

I remember my first Tea Party invitation. The "hosts" were a group ofloosely federated regional anti-illegal immigration groups, the occasion was Tax Day, and…

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I remember my first Tea Party invitation. The "hosts" were a group ofloosely federated regional anti-illegal immigration groups, the occasion
was Tax Day, and the call to action was to "protest to demand the end

of taxation without representation."

The particular bone ofcontention was Gov. Quinn's then-proposed tax increase, described
thusly: "Governor Quinn says he must raise your income tax because he
doesn't have enough money to pay for all the social welfare benefits

demanded by the illegal alien invaders."

Fast-forward nearly a yearand the Tea Partiers are going strong -- strong enough to have stumped
some and horrified others. I've read big, epic pieces in several
different publications alternately describing the Tea Party Movement as
being one big quasi-Ku Klux Klan hate group, or the representative
conglomeration of an America so fed up with our government they're ready
to bear arms against it, or a young, dynamic collection of diverse
individuals -- from liberal, nose-ring sporting actresses to frustrated
middle-class professionals -- simply exercising their rights to free
speech and peaceable assembly in support of controlling their own

destinies. Pick yer favorite.

That's the thing that makesthe Tea Party movement so fascinating -- and scary to some -- it isn't
monolithic, it isn't easy to sort into a neat category and it isn't easy
to dismiss out of hand, especially if your perfectly rational neighbor
or friend can say they agree with a lot of what they stand for -- mainly

an end to government's fiscal irresponsibility.

Might there be analternative for those sick and tired of the mess that decades of waste

and corruption hath wrought but who aren't anti-government?

Enter the Coffee Partymovement. According to the New York Times, it is a burgeoning national
movement for those hoping to work the system rather than eliminate it.
Taking a quick Facebook jaunt over to the "Join Coffee Party Movement
Chicago" page, I found their official mission statement: "We recognize
that the Federal Government is NOT the enemy of the People, but the
expression of our collective wills. As voters and volunteers, we will
support leaders who work toward positive solutions, and hold accountable

those who obstruct them."

By Thursday night, they hadpicked up an additional 95 fans on top of the 627 present and accounted
for a mere 20 hours earlier when I first checked. Not bad for a group

that had been alive for about the blink of an eye.

It's still in the infancystage, and the postings on its discussion page have, so far, ranged from
micro-narratives of hustling the local coffee shop for meeting space,
complaints about meetups not being near enough to home, joyous woo-hoos,
suggestions for tangible goals and long tracts wondering if they've

bitten off more than they can chew.

About what you'd expect from
grass trying to lay down roots.

Will the Coffee PartyMovement grow into the populist political force the Tea Party groups are
trying to become, or will the cups-o-joe get bitter after they've been

around a while? I don't care either way -- it's all good.

Though the snarky among uswould say, if nothing else, that President Obama can be credited with
uniting people in their hatred of him, that's too cynical for me. I'd
rather look at the bright side of the discontent and frustration boiling
over across almost all economic classes, in cities, suburbs and on
farms, among people of all ages, races and colors -- the muscular rise

of a mass of civically engaged people.

Enraged, yes -- but
primarily engaged.

Coffee or Tea, bothmovements are engaged, passionate, energetic and willing to roll the old
sleeves up and put in the time and work toward reshaping their country
in a way they think will serve their self-interests -- and their country

-- best.

It's a beautiful thing, this season of hot and tasty parties. So much passion, so much energy, so

much desire to just "do good."

It warms the soul! 

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