Lattes: Not just for liberals anymore

Republicans got great mileage from a political ad from the arch-conservative Club for Growth back in the 2004 presidential election that included this now-infamous and oft-paraphrased jab at the liberal elite: “Howard Dean should take his tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freakshow back to Vermont, where it belongs.”

Something’s brewing: If Republicans are jittery these days, it may just be because of the Latte Republicans, a new politically centered social club and coffee klatch in Asheville.

So it begs the question: Are the Latte Republicans, who meet twice monthly at Caffiend coffee shop on Merrimon Avenue, hypocrites or, at the least, cheeky ironists?

Neither, says the group’s affable 22-year-old founder Justin Powlison. In fact, Powlison, a California transplant who originally conceived and formed the group while living in Los Angeles—and who considers himself “a hard-core conservative” on several issues—says the ironic name aims “to combat the stereotypes about stodgy, middle-aged white Republicans. I wanted to get together a group of hip, Mac-using, latte-drinking Republicans to try and spurn the stereotype.”

The concept never really took hold in L.A., where the club was admittedly elitist and people had to be formally invited, but it seems to attracting interest locally. Meeting at 5:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month, Powlison says the new group attracts close to a dozen people, focusing largely on local politics. The group is strictly a social club and is modeled largely on Drinking Liberally, a weekly liberal booze-and-schmooze fest that has meet-ups in Asheville and in cities throughout the nation. 

And though the club is aimed at Republicans, the group welcomes people of different political persuasions to take part, Powlison says.

“We even have a Democrat.”

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