I found the Tea Party movement to be much more legitimate before it was hijacked by the GOP for partisan purposes. However, despite the fact that there are very vocal racist and reactionary elements within it, I think that it has an anti-government populism that the Democrats need to recognize. The independent/libertarian moderates who have distanced themselves from the Tea Party since its corruption by the Republican propaganda wagon may not be "tea baggers" anymore or associate with them, but that doesn't mean they aren't still very, very pissed off.
My biggest problem with them is their focus on Obama (and on the tax issue). I think it's misdirected anger and from a civil liberties perspective, it's completely missing the point.
The craziest thing to me is that most of them are anti-tax, but they're not even the ones the taxes would be directed at. Most of the conservatives on the street are like dogs protecting their masters for scraps from the table. It's nuts. They ***** about "distributing the wealth" when a lot of them don't even have any for the government to take.