During President George W. Bush’s two terms, you couldn’t drive far without seeing a particular bumper sticker: “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” Now that Democrats control the White House and Congress, the left treats dissent as the lowest form of treason. When the left agitates over government policies, it’s considered righteous anger. When the right - and much of the center - agitate, it’s painted as the rantings of the criminally and violently insane.
With Obamacare signed into law, Democrats have stopped congratulating themselves long enough to notice that the American people aren’t cheering on the sidelines. According to a CNN poll released last week, 58 percent oppose President Obama’s handling of Obamacare, while Gallup shows him this week with a 46 percent job approval, his lowest yet. A CBS poll released after the House of Representatives passed Obamacare showed Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s favorable rating at 11 percent and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s at 8 percent, higher only than Beelzebub’s.
Aware that their “reform” is rejected by most of the American people and that they will face serious consequences in November, the Democrats have decided that the best defense is a good offense: Attack those who oppose Obamacare. It doesn’t seem to bother most Democrats that that pernicious strategy puts them in the weird and politically untenable position of attacking most of the American people.
Over the past week, a parade of Democrats have accused members of the Tea Party movement and other opponents of Obamacare of threatening them. There may be an infinitesimal number of looney tunes who have engaged in that kind of unacceptable behavior out of hundreds of millions of Americans. But the Democrats have dishonestly extrapolated from a few claimed incidents to taint all those who reject Obamacare as wild-eyed wackos.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because the Democrats have shown a disturbing pattern of demonizing those who disagree with them. A year ago, Mr. Obama’s Department of Homeland Security issued a report for law enforcement called “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.” It suggested that anyone who opposed abortion, illegal immigration and oppressive taxes, supported gun rights or served in Iraq and Afghanistan should be singled out for special attention. Why? Because such people might burst into a spasm of violence at any time. There was no mention of being on the lookout for potential violence committed by Islamic jihadists, even after actual acts of violence committed by an Islamic jihadist in Little Rock. (The Fort Hood shooting happened later.)
In other words, if you go to church, believe in protecting innocent life, own a gun or defend your country, the Democrats consider you a potential enemy of the state. It was no coincidence that the Homeland Security report was issued just as the Tea Party movement was gaining real national traction.
Not surprisingly, then, once they had passed their widely unpopular health care bill, the Democrats moved quickly to delegitimize opposition to it. Their defiant move in the face of overwhelming popular resistance gave them another excuse to equate big-government progressives with good patriots and small government advocates with potentially violent nutcases who must be watched.
As if on cue, this week, Homeland Security, the FBI and the Department of Justice’s Joint Terrorism Task Force carried out raids against a purported “Christian militia group” in the Midwest. According to reports, nine people have been charged with plotting to kill police officers with “weapons of mass destruction.” The indictment describes the group as an “anti-government extremist organization” and the FBI special agent in charge, Andrew Arena, cast it as “radical and fringe.” That may be, but the description has a conveniently familiar ring to it.
Interestingly, the head of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Dawud Walid, rushed to announce the raids at a CAIR banquet at about the same time the story became public. “We salute the FBI for breaking up a militia that was seeking to harm American Muslims,” he said. It’s curious that he would know that at a time when the FBI still had the investigation under seal. (We’re still waiting to hear why Homeland Security and the FBI chose to use the descriptive word “Christian” when they seem unable to use the word “Muslim” in connection with Islamic extremism.)
It’s mind-blowingly coincidental that these raids on a supposedly “Christian” militia group would come at the exact moment that Democrats were trying to change public opinion on Obamacare by claiming persecution by their opponents. They have cast Tea Partiers, conservatives, independents, Christians and militia members as all cut from the same unstable, volatile cloth. How can anyone take their opposition to the Democrats’ agenda seriously when they’re toting guns and being raided by Homeland Security and the FBI? They’re all nuts, don’t you know?
The Democrats handle dissent by isolating it, smearing it and delegitimizing it in order to crush it. The warning should be clear: If you have small-government, traditional values, you may be considered by your own leadership to be an enemy of the state.
Monica Crowley is a nationally syndicated radio host, a panelist on “The McLaughlin Group” and a Fox News contributor.