THE BLOG
05/31/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Unite the Nation or Untie it?

The media has now engaged in the "What Next" portion of the health care debate. It stands back and looks at the angry battlefield smothering before it. The warriors of talk now turn inward and decry the lack of civility. Militaristic terms abound in the war on health care. The forces of the Red were defeated when an ideological traitor moved to the Blue side.

Can the Blue Army enjoy the victory -- no -- we have a spate of real criminal activity that is fully covered from bricks through windows to obscene phone messages to spitting on congresspeople.

It sells a lot of stuff on TV and in newspapers.

Columnists write about how we got here -- but offer no solutions. I am starting to look at these folks as banging gongs. They are part of the problem.

It is whining by the media that has set us upon one another. I am tired of the whining. We need something to unite us as a people -- not to untie us as a nation. The Tea Party has exposed itself as too angry to be taken seriously. They are too insulting to want to become a part of.

Saturday, I went to a meeting of a group trying to find a different way. They call themselves the Coffee Party. This is their mission statement:

The Coffee Party Movement gives voice to Americans who want to see cooperation in government. We recognize that the federal government is not the enemy of the people, but the expression of our collective will, and that we must participate in the democratic process in order to address the challenges that we face as Americans. As voters and grassroots volunteers, we will support leaders who work toward positive solutions, and hold accountable those who obstruct them.

Across the country they held meetings in coffee houses. The one I attended in Wayne, Pa was in an upstairs room. It wasn't raucous or nasty. People weren't put down for their views. During the meeting people were free to disagree with things being said -- and get this -- they weren't treated badly for having a different opinion.

The interesting thing is they have no preset agenda. It is not for or against the government or health care or anything else. It was made clear that folks in Wyoming may have a directly opposite view and political view points than the people in Pennsylvania -- they will still be welcome.

There were a couple of points to the meeting.

  • Why should this movement exist? Anyone who showed up at the meeting is disgusted by the public discourse. It is nasty and they are sick of it. The folks attending refuse to become nasty themselves. This is the Silent Majority of the 2010's. These are thoughtful people out to change the government.

  • Get on the map! The people on the national level of this group want to make their presence known immediately to their congresspeople. A couple of us debated the wisdom of showing the chasis of a car off before having an engine, but that we understand that this is a legit way to go also (if not now, then when?)
  • What will this group start doing? Being on the ground floor of a new movement allows one to step in and really help the initial steering. The smaller the group the more effect one can have. The moderator, Mike, got guidance from the National People for suggestions. One suggestion was campaign reform.
  • The 25 or so people in the room broke off into smaller groups by congressional district to think about what affects their home environments. We had 4 congressional districts represented. The groups made posters and took pictures. They are trying to schedule face time with their Reps.

    This is a start.

    This isn't as sexy as having people throw verbal fecal material at one another. And that is the point. What these folks are trying to do is tone down the rhetoric.

    I saw a lot of people in the room who are first timers. They were never involved before. They are naïve and that is a good thing. Being naïve means you don't know what can't be done.

    If the media wants to promote civility, it needs to promote a group like the Coffee Party. If the Tea Party was given tons of free media, why not these folks? The media can ignore this group and allow it no traction, but will that begin to frustrate an already tense populace? If the media wants to keep raking in the cash by accenting irresponsible behavior, it can continue to do so. We are in a free society. However, the media now is culpable when someone gets hurt. Not in the eyes of the law, but in the eyes of every person who judges them cynically as they untie the nation.

    The national leadership of the Coffee Party has thrown a lump of clay onto a wheel in order to create an empty vessel that can be filled with adult discussion on serious topics. The optics of thoughtful discussion are a great way to get to sleep.

    Maybe we need to declare a war on civic sleep?

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