[P]eople feel legitimate anger toward their government. They sense that the vague democratic ideals they have held since childhood have been traduced and betrayed. And they have.
We live in a post-manufacturing society, but this has different implications for different people.
Communities whose wealth came from manufacturing operations have had to replace that with some service-sector alternative. You're going from $30-an-hour jobs to minimum wage.
Then you have a wave of immigration from Mexico: you've got people willing to work for less than minimum wage -- people who get picked up by van services in the mornings, get robbed by their employers, and then pay a fee to the van service to bring them home.
Naturally, if you're going from some decent union job to competing with desperate immigrants for work, you're going to be pissed. Sure, you want to "take back your country," and you probably don't have good things to say about Mexicans, either. Meanwhile, you're listening to Beck and Limbaugh, because they're making sense of what is happening to you. No one else is addressing your concerns, so you tune into the people that do.
If we judge the Tea Party-types by the racism they display while bearing the brunt of the pain that comes from NAFTA and a move away from manufacturing, and put them up against all the progressively-minded people in corporate America who helped bring these things about, I don't see much of a moral distinction to get worked up about.
The only meaningful distinction comes from people who do something to challenge these trends.