Most students, both men and women, live in a perpetual state of “brokeness.” Even with student loans and financial aid covering my tuition and my very generous parents paying my rent (thanks, Mom and Dad!), my minimum wage paycheck barely covers my expenses for books, bills, food, and everything in between. That’s why I have consistently taken advantage of Planned Parenthood, a service that has always been available to me. Above school, work, and friends, my health holds precedence, so if an organization offers me a free breast exam, birth control, and numerous other services, I’m there.
So, a few weeks ago when Congress was holding serious talks about defunding Planned Parenthood, I panicked. Even with insurance coverage, one would be hard pressed to find free birth control or a Pap smear without co-pay. I was frantic to find that my primary source of health care was a political tetherball being viciously whacked by representatives who didn’t realize how necessary this service was to me and other women of my socio-economic status. Even as a political science major, who is well versed in the compromises of Congress, I felt helpless. Writing my representative wasn’t going to solve this seemingly imminent problem, which thankfully did not pass with the new budget plan – but what could I do?
That’s when I decided to conduct further personal research into a group I had heard of called the Coffee Party. I knew that the organization comprised of pragmatic thinkers and a startling amount of youths had begun as somewhat of an antithesis to the Tea Party, a fiscally and socially conservative political group that had transpired after the election of President Obama and gained recognition after the signing of the new healthcare initiative. When I logged onto their website, one of the first links was of a video of other concerned young people speaking out against the defunding of Planned Parenthood. Being the hopeless idealist that I am, I cried. These tears of joy came from the knowledge that others stood with me and understood my worry, and from the comfort that they were doing something about it.
Immediately, I did all of the menial support acts I could, like joining the Coffee Party Facebook page. It was comforting to have power in numbers, which, let’s be honest, is the most efficient way to get anything accomplished (or prevent such) in a representative democracy. One woman cannot do it alone. I immediately began signing petitions, blogging, and corresponding with other Coffee Party members over this single important measure. Enormous amounts of people seemed to suddenly crop up in defense of Planned Parenthood, and at the eleventh hour, the organization was spared the loss of federal funds.
I know I cannot attribute this all to my overwhelming sense of passion or the Coffee Party, but I can recognize the strength of a cooperative voice from a vast amount of people. Teams will always defeat a single player, and I like to believe that necessity and pragmatism will overcome trite ideology. My ultimate respect for the Coffee Party comes from this idea that appears in their mission statement:
“We maintain our independence from all political parties and labels. Yes, we are non-partisan, but being non-partisan does not mean we will not take positions. It means that Coffee Party members will arrive at positions based on principles and facts, not on party affiliation. By seeking and spreading accurate information, we empower ourselves and others to take action and participate in the deliberative process.”
The overall health, general welfare, and liberties of the American people is supposed to be represented and protected by the government – a basic fact often lost in the glare created by the spotlight placed upon party ideology. Whether one is a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or anything else, I think we all can find a sense of agreement in the practical approach of this young movement.
My second favorite part about the Coffee Party is its accessibility. On their website, collegiettes™ can find the “Coffee Party Starter Kit.” This kit provides a basic outline on how to conduct a town hall meeting, a public forum created by the people (you!) for the people, in which we as a people can have a serious discussion on what we seek from our government. So if you haven’t heard of a Coffee Party group meeting in Eugene, then start one! Eugene is the perfect town for such a conference. Not only are there plenty of available public venues, but there are also innumerable political active individuals looking for other ways to have their voices heard.
There is power in numbers, friends and readers!