★ The Audacity of Dissent

Since the beginning of the Obama presidency last January, the nature of political discourse in this country has undergone a profound change.  After eight years of the Democratic Party and its allies in the mainstream media doing everything in their power to convince us that dissent from and rebellion against federal authority was the highest form of patriotism, the message has been dramatically altered.  As the American people begin to turn on Obama and his economically, morally, and Constitutionally unjustifiable health care plan, we are suddenly being told that dissent is an inexcusable offense.  As citizens rally against the President's continued efforts to intervene in their personal lives, the Speaker of the House has chosen to compare them to Nazis and the media has accused them of racism.  Legislators have interrupted townhall meetings to berate their constituents for not knowing what is "good" for them.  Union thugs have been dispatched by Democratic allies to peaceful but impassioned protests in order to intimidate and in some cases physically assault opponents to the government's actions.  And the President himself has told the media that he doesn't want the people who oppose him (who he claims "caused" the "mess") to be involved in the health care debate, and has established a mechanism to collect information about dissenters and encourage supporters to rat out their neighbors.  In short, the Democrats' reign has been characterized largely by a stunning disrespect of the First Amendment right to "freedom of speech... the press... of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." So what is the source of the Left's newfound hatred for all forms of protest and dissent? After all, they were positively ga-ga about it when George Bush was living at 1600 Pennsylvania.  So why would they suddenly turn against the practice upon their ascension to power? Hmm, why do you think?

Barack Obama and company are flailing.  Their health care legislation is dying a glorious death as the American people realize the damage it will do to the economy, the deficit, and our medical system.  With their political capital rapidly shrinking and their internal conflicts receiving greater publicity, the Democrats, who have spent the better part of a decade defining themselves by opposition, need an enemy.  They need someone to demonize, someone to hate, someone to blame for all of the ills that have befallen them.  They've tried to go after Bush again, but most people are content to not think about Bush now that he's out of office.  They've tried to go after insurance companies and other "villains," only to find that most Americans who have health insurance (roughly 85%, if you were curious) are satisfied with their own providers. They've even made the asinine assertion that the media is working against them, setting artificial deadlines and forcing them to rush the legislative process, but the American people aren't about to buy the notion that the MSM is just another part of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy.  And so, with their usual targets proving difficult to hit, the Democrats have turned their attention to the American people.

Damn those concerned citizens for voicing their opinions about things that intimately affect their personal lives, say the Dems!  Refusing to allow anything to stand between them and their socialist health system - including the American people - the President, the Speaker of the House, and their buddies have turned to vicious slander in order to intimidate citizens into staying away from protest events.  They've conducted a full-on media war against these people.  In addition to the examples listed above, they've also questioned the authenticity of the protests in a desperate attempt to convince people that this grassroots campaign is actually a carefully-constructed bit of "astroturfing" lead by the Republican National Committee.  The ever-tolerant and informed Senator Barbara Boxer, fresh off condescending black business leaders during the cap-and-trade debate, declared that the protesters couldn't be sincere because they were too well dressed.  The phrase "Brooks Brothers" protesters has been picked by such media personalities as Chris Matthews, who apparently thinks that polo shirts, khaki shorts, and baseball caps are the height of aristocratic fashion. (Click here for photos of these damned fancy dressers.)

And when this string of verbal abuse and media smearing proved ineffective, the Democrats called in their allies in the labor movement and let them loose on the protesters.  Ken Gladney, a black conservative in St. Louis who had the audacity to attend a townhall meeting, was brutally beaten by purple-shirted members of the SEIU for daring to oppose nationalized health care.  The next day, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius referred to the SEIU members as "brothers and sisters" and urged them to "keep doing what you're doing."

That's right, folks: a representative of the executive branch of the federal government has condoned the violent beating of dissenters by union thugs. These are the folks that want to run your health care.

The sad reality is that they don't need a single Republican vote to pass their disastrous health care bill.  In a straight party-line vote, the legislation would pass easily, meaning that this entire process is not about finding votes - it's about finding political cover.  It's about trying to persuade enough Republicans to vote "yes" so that the legislation can't be used as political ammunition next fall.  It's about trying to intimidate citizens into supporting the package so that they won't hold it against their elected representatives when 2010 rolls around.  It's about trying to manufacture an environment in which any and all liberal legislation can be passed through Congress without protest or dissent.

Ultimately, it's about power.

(Special bonus points for those of you who get the graphic.)