The first problem is the name. If you're going to start a grass-roots political movement in Utah and invite everyone, the "coffee party" probably isn't the ticket.

That's sort of like holding a dance party in the Baptist South, or a pork barbecue in Israel.

"I know," says member and Ogden resident Lee Dalton. "That might be a hindrance." But he is quick to add that the Utah group is just a chapter of the larger national party, founded by a young woman who put a post on Facebook about the "false narrative that the tea party is the real America."

"We could call our branch the Postum party, I guess," Dalton said.

And that would be right in the spirit of a party that just wants everyone to get along. Don't drink coffee? Have some fruit punch or water. There was plenty of each at a recent meeting.

An old joke goes something like this: "How do you stop Canadians from rioting?" The answer: "You say, 'Please stop rioting.' "

But this, of course, is not Canada. The genius of American government may lie in compromise, but this rarely happens over quiet social gatherings. This is a country born of people who threw tea into the Boston harbor and waged war against the British despite enormous odds; it's a place where thousands died in a Civil War because differences could not be negotiated and where the ideals of freedom and tolerance always have been borne on the shoulders of vastly different races, religions and ideologies whose members view each other with suspicion.

It's a place where even the Founding Fathers had differences over the limits in the Constitution, and yet where people constantly clamor about "taking back" the nation by returning to its original ideals.

In a land of squeaky wheels, it's hard for advocates of a well-oiled, quiet discussion to get noticed. Even the coffee party has been getting pressure from the far left, which would like it to become more militant — sort of a searing-hot spicy mocha. But its members have resisted, preferring a calm discussion they say is open to people of all political persuasions.

Holding the middle line can be a challenge, indeed. I'm reminded of how, a year and a half ago, attorney John Kesler organized "A Call to Civility and Community" and asked local and state politicians to endorse a set of ground rules for public discourse.

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker was an enthusiastic supporter. People ought to participate in spirited debate without intimidation or disrespect, he said.

Unfortunately, those two things have become the bread and butter of Internet discussions, political ads and rallies.

The coffee party has its own version of taking back America. Its website says, "In order to restore democracy in America and 'promote the general welfare' of the people, we must stand united."

But of course the term "general welfare" is as loaded as a pallet of Chinese fireworks on the Fourth of July. It comes straight out of Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, which gives Congress the power to "lay and collect taxes" for a variety of things, including the "general welfare of the United States."

Liberals say that authorizes everything from Social Security to President Barack Obama's new health care plan. Conservatives say the rest of the Constitution makes it clear that the federal government has limited powers and that everything not specifically delegated to it belongs to the states.

That's about as far as many Americans get before coffee, juice and water start flying through the air.

Which may explain why the coffee party isn't attracting massive rallies from coast to coast.

To many people right now, the truth as they see it is rigid and unbending. But of course Americans generally like to get along, when they're not talking politics. If nothing else, the coffee party can remind us all of that.

Jay Evensen is editor of the Deseret News editorial page. E-mail: Visit his blog