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Coffee Party? Tea Party? Join the Brewvement!

Tea Partiers, make room. The Coffee Party is about to steal some of your media thunder. Around for only a few weeks, it officially launches March 13th, having already attracted 109,000 Facebook fans, slightly more than the Tea Party, around about a year. The Coffee Party expects about 300 gatherings in 44 states to participate on Saturday.

On the surface, the two “parties” seem radically different. Tea Partiers are known for their shout-downs, but Coffee Partiers feature a “civility pledge” on their homepage. Coffee Partiers, don’t call for a drastically shrunken government, ala the Tea Party, but for “cooperation in government.” And, Coffee folks emphasize whom they will support—“those leaders working toward positive solutions”—rather than the Tea Party’s practice of lampooning those they won’t, like our president.

But let’s not get so carried away with the new brew that we fail to read the tea leaves.

The Tea Party has so far stolen the show precisely because it’s loud, occasionally outrageous, and can sometimes sound downright scary. But the Tea Party has something to tell us. So as funny as Sarah Palin’s palm-reading antics and Bill Maher’s jabs at Tea Partiers maybe

...we should listen before we laugh.

First of all, a lot of Tea Partiers got to their party because they’re angry. And while civility is essential to democracy itself, anger is also appropriate. We should be angry that our democracy is being stolen. We can be pissed without being nasty.

Secondly, a lot of Tea Partiers understand a big part of what’s gone wrong in America - and if they don’t understand it, they sense it. The trouble is, they, like most of us, can’t get our heads around it. When kids throw fits it’s often because they can’t explain what’s really bothering them. Maybe it’s the same for grown-ups.

The problem is, in this society we have no common language, no frame, to explain why the pain has increased so fast that: Almost half of American families have experienced a lost job, fewer hours, or a pay cut in the last year. Almost one fifth of men in their prime-earning years are unemployed. And half of our children depend on food stamps at some point in their upbringing.