So. I know several people said they were joining the Coffee Party movement. Did anybody go to the kick-off this morning? I did. Of the eight people signed up, six showed, which was a nice-sized group for a discussion. It was in a little west side urban diner, and the hosts were a Methodist minister and his wife. To my great surprise, even though I drove 20 miles to this meet-up, four of the people there either used to or presently live in my 'burb. Also -- perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised -- all of us were over 40. I don't know if this was the norm across the country, but I guess young, idealistic people are feeling pretty disenfranchised right now. The makeup? Nobody was asked their party affiliation or leanings, but four of us seemed to tilt middle/left, I consider myself fully left, and one woman was more of a libertarian. We were asked to discuss topics the Coffee Party group should focus on, and the usual suspects came up: the lack of civility in political discourse, corporate control over our government (the recent Supreme Court ruling re: campaign financing was slammed by everybody there), and I volunteered the irresponsibility of the media (whether it's the focus on trivial stuff like CNN or propaganda like Fox, another subject of universal derision). Someone also mentioned the powerlessness of third party candidates to be heard. We ended up coming up with some interesting ideas: Return to the old FCC concept of considering spectrum space akin to a natural resource that needs to be used in the public interest. Give the FCC its teeth back, i.e., the power to pull the license of any news outfit that doesn't operate in a responsible manner, or to at least enforce equal time provisions. In primary elections, guarantee a ballot position for third-party candidates -- sort of a wild card spot. Socialists, libertarians, Greens and other candidates could run for that spot. Whichever party's candidate gets the most votes advances to the general election. So in any given general election, you'd have the Democrats, the Republicans, and whichever third party candidate won in the primary. Three choices on the ballot, not two, guaranteeing the third candidate the right to be in debates, better media coverage, etc. Pushing to challenge the idea that a corporation = a person. As one member pointed out today, not everybody gets the same rights. Children don't have the same rights as adults, for example. A (for lack of a better term) "shadow" Congress or convention of Coffee Party delegates, randomly picked, two from each state, to hold meetings several times a year to discuss, thrash out and decide the same issues Congress is working on. They'd have absolutely no power of course, but the group I was with felt that the offsetting advantage would be that it would be made up of citizen representatives of all kinds (not just lawyers and other professional politicians) showing up Congress by reaching the decisions that the real Congress can't. These delegates would change annually, assuring a good mix of public opinion. Some of those ideas are fairly outside the box, but perhaps it's time to start thinking that way. Looks like the Grumpy Old Men are already trying to smear the movement too: The Tea Party is grass roots and the Coffee Party isn't, huh?. Hilarious.