Dear Tea Partiers,
I am writing you today not as your progressive political opponent but as your fellow American.
There is but one America, and we are going to share it, whether we like the idea or not. We will be doing that single America a terrible disservice if we refuse to engage with each other.
I will not patronize you by pretending our political philosophies are not often in diametrical opposition, but I will pay you the compliment of taking you seriously. Too many on the left, myself included, have treated you dismissively for too long. But you refuse to be dismissed; you're still here.
I do not disagree with everything you stand for. The Tea Party wants a safe, secure America. So do I. Cautious government and tamed deficits are Tea Party goals. I share them. While I cannot support "papers please" laws, I understand the fears that produce them, and I am mindful that America is an immigrant nation, not a colonized one.
But I believe you have made a terrible mistake; you've cast your lot with the Republican Party and only the Republican Party. You think the GOP is your champion. Think again.
You are being used. The GOP is going to ride you hard, all the way to Capitol Hill, and put you up wet. And when you try to collect on their winning ticket, all you'll get is lip service.
If you think the GOP takes you seriously and considers you more than a handy lever back into power, take a look at the last populist bill of goods they sold the country.
In 1994, Newt Gingrich's "Contract for America" was going to change Washington forever. All we needed to do was elect a Republican congress. And so we did.
It didn't work then and it won't work now. That populist stuff isn't designed to "work." It's designed to sell.
There's an old saying among poker players. If you look around the table and you don't know who the pigeon is, it's you.
You, my fellow Americans, my Tea Partier brothers and sisters, are being sold.
You are the people, but your champions don't represent the people. They represent themselves.
Oh, they'll come to your conventions and speak--for a fee--and they'll pass out the funny hats. They'll make strong, vaguely racist denunciations of illegal immigration, while Conseulla watches the kids at the summer cottage in Nags Head. And then they'll tell their buddies at Tyson Foods they didn't really mean it.
The politicians you elect with your outrage will pay you all the respect Sarah Palin paid the citizens of Alaska. Your anger is their oxygen. And what they're going to do to you will leave you breathless.
But there is a better way. Work with both parties. If you don't, if you put all your hopes in the GOP, trust me, you are going to get used. But if you work with both parties, if neither the Democrats or Republicans can take you for granted, you won't be.