So I did sign up with the Coffee Party (Coffee Party capitalized, not capitalized??? - today caps). I was thinking this might be a way to push myself out there a bit into politics, but maybe on my terms. After all, the Coffee Party is brand new, and while the people who started it in DC may have an idea of how they want to proceed, out here in the sticks we are still thinking about how to define ourselves (or not, more about that in a bit). I even signed the civility pledge.
So I looked at the Coffee Party website today and noticed there was a new widget, which was maybe local chapters(?)... So I didn't do anything with it until I got home from work. Well, the new widget, which on the main page was a US map with a bunch of pins, was in fact a listing of the closet local Coffee Party meeting to whomever, by zip code. So I punched in my zip ... hmmm, a group in Greensburg on the 13th. Nah. Norths Hills, meeting on March 3rd, at 7:00pm (I am reading that on March 3rd at 5:50pm, while dinner is in the microwave). I wolfed down dinner and tore out to the Panera on McKnight Road.
There were eight of us, one guy had been a member since last Friday, or maybe a couple of days before that. He had emailed the DC people about whether there was a Pittsburgh group or chapter or whatever, and had gotten a call from the DC people asking him if he wanted to set one up. That's how we got there.
So we chatted about what we thought the Coffee Party should be, for the Pittsburgh area and in general. We were, not surprisingly, all Obama fans and basically all progressives, although we were more diverse than you might expect.
There will be some sort of meeting on the 13th, one that I will likely not be able to attend, as part of the nationwide kick off of the Coffee Party. It remains to be seen how much the local news will take an interest.
But I think that the Coffee Party could be as or possibly more valuable in Pittsburgh than on the national level. Because the Democratic party has such a lock on the City, which is to say the Democratic committee has such a lock on the city, the East End coffee house progressives have not had much maneuvering room. I mean, they basically got Pat Dowd elected (and played a role in getting Bruce Kraus in too), but Dowd has charted a somewhat different course, which gave East End progressives the sense of disenchantment a year before the supporters of Obama developed it. But I think that the concept of a Coffee Party Democrat might gain traction, which is to say politicians taking on an added label, to indicate they support civility in discussion and finding intelligent, fact based solutions to issues and problems. This is something I think Bill Peduto could sign onto in a heartbeat, but also Shields, Kraus, Rudiak, perhaps Burgess (although he may not want to give up the ability to protest loudly when needed) and even perhaps Dowd, since these ideas were so important to him when he first campaigned.
Meanwhile, I am going to have to think about this civility pledge. It is going to be awfully hard to remain civil when some conservative commenter on another blog makes some snide and derogatory remark. Maybe I can chide them about their manners.