Maren, a very nice article. As a conservative, I too have family members that are my political opposites, and yes, more people need to know that honest, caring conversations between sincere people of any persuasion are both possible and beneficial.
In that spirit, I wish to challenge one assumption you seem to make, that Tea Partiers and conservatives in general are all following a template designed for them by the conservative talking heads. I challenge it because it is no more than a stereotype. I am a licensed attorney in Illinois. I was on Law Review. I have listened to a wide range of talking heads, read a large number of primary sources in legal, political, and economic theory, and still ended up a conservative.
So you see it is possible for people who do not rely on Rush, Glenn, Sean et al to reach the same conclusions they do. The talking heads are not the leaders. They are the press secretaries. They articulate loudly what others have quietly analyzed. They are the Paul Revere’s. They see the signals and keep everyone informed. That’s a good thing.
But they did not invent the love of freedom and the fear of tyranny that gave birth to this country. And they did not invent the various tragic political experiments of the last century that would make any reasonable person tremble at the thought of an overly intrusive, ever expanding, self-infatuated government.
The fact is that the Tea Partier’s rejection of the harshly government-centric policies of the current administration is rooted in an accurate and rational view of history and economics. It is wonderful that you now see Tea Partiers in a more human context, but I would ask you now to go one step further and believe that they have chosen their own thoughts and feelings about public policy as freely and intelligently as you have. That’s when the real conversation begins.