By John AvlonAuthor, "Independent Nation"

I guess it had to come to this: protesters protesting protests.

News that ACORN may be holding alternate rallies opposite the tea parties on tax day is a logical conclusion to the activist skirmishes we've all seen played out on the Internet and television screens in the red vs. blue era.

In the self-segregating partisan echo chambers this is all being built up as a battle royale. But as an independent who distrusts the idea of joining a group to gain an identity, I question how all this hype will end. Liberal commentators who are dismissing the tea parties as a joke, looking at this simply as a far-right fringe festival, are likely to be surprised at the size of the crowds that turn out. The bigger joke might be on the "movement" organizers who have pumped up the protesters without a larger sense of purpose they can translate beyond tax day.

If the anger is not directed beyond Democrats and the Obama administration . . . then all this will just be a ritualized venting of spleen, manipulated by people with self-interested partisan agendas

tea party

A trans-partisan populist call to return to policies of fiscal responsibility would be a welcome thing -- a spirit of generational responsibility has been missing from our politics for far too long. But the blame must be spread to the Tom DeLay-type Republicans who had contempt for balanced budgets and cynically pumped up pork-barrel spending as well as the Democratic Congress that pushed through a $410 billion spending bill after a $787 billion stimulus package.

The tea-parties are being labeled a tax-protest, but really they are a spending protest. And if the anger is not directed beyond Democrats and the Obama administration, if a solutions-oriented agenda is not articulated, then all this will just be a ritualized venting of spleen, manipulated by people with self-interested partisan agendas -- a whole lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing.