“There is danger for Democrats in recent attempts to dismiss the tea party movement as violent racists deserving of contempt. Demonizing these folks may energize the Democrats’ left-wing base. But it is a big turnoff to voters who have problems with the Democratic agenda that have nothing to do with racism.

“Putting a racial lens on the tea party activists may also help Democrats by painting congressional Republicans into a corner as debate begins on immigration reform. Hispanic voters are going to be looking at Republicans and their tea party supporters for evidence of racism in any effort to block reform.

“But Democrats cannot win elections without capturing the votes of independent-minded swing voters. And that is where writing off the tea party as a bunch of racist kooks becomes self-destructive. The tea party outrage over health-care reform, deficit spending and entitlements run amok is no fringe concern. And it is insulting to all voters to suggest that criticism of President Obama, even by people who want to throw him out of office, is motivated by racism.”

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