At first glance, the tea partiers don't seem to have anything whatsoever in common with Democrats, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has found a commonality: distaste for special-interest influence in Washington.
"[Y]ou know, we share some of the views of the Tea Partiers in terms of the role of special interest in Washington, D.C., as -- it just has to stop," Pelosi told ABC's Elizabeth Vargas in an interview for "This Week." "And that's why I've fought the special interest, whether it's on energy, whether it's on health insurance, whether it's on pharmaceuticals and the rest."
From talking to a few tea partiers myself, this seems to be true: they're strongly against special interest power and government corruption. In fact, perhaps a latent contradiction in the tea party movement is that tea partiers are very pro-business and anti-regulation, but, at the same time, they're against businesses--especially banks--having too cozy a relationship with government. Developing a relationship with lawmakers and regulators, however, is one way businesses work to fight regulation.
It's unlikely many (if any) tea partiers will vote for Democrats this November, since the movement was spawned as a reaction against President Obama and the Democratic congressional majority, but Pelosi did show a nuanced understanding of the various factions within the movement--and she partly went back on her previous claims that the tea partiers amount to AstroTurf.
"[W]hat I said at the time is, that they were -- the Republican Party directs a lot of what the Tea Party does, but not everybody in the Tea Party takes direction from the Republican Party. And so there was a lot of, shall we say, AstroTurf, as opposed to grassroots," Pelosi said.
Perhaps capitalizing on the tea partiers' distrust for the GOP establishment could work for Democrats in November, if not actually getting their votes.