The intensity and nastiness of the attacks on the tea-party movement tell us how much the left fears ordinary American citizens who take an interest in politics.

Left-wing anti-war protests or rampaging anarchists at the G-8 summits are wonderful expressions of democratic dissent, but protests against Obamacare and catastrophic public debt are un-American?

In the past few days, the attacks on the tea-party movement have taken a turn toward outright suppression of dissent. The liberal media are now engaged in a concerted campaign to smear and discredit all criticism of Obama as un-American and dangerous.

Memo to David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel: The smear campaign won’t work. Tea-party patriots will not be intimidated.

The new smear campaign started a week ago when a few House Democrats were heckled by protesters at the Capitol. Then some Democrats began telling stories of telephone threats. Suddenly, news commentators are issuing dire warnings that the tea-party movement is full of violent extremists who at any moment may march on Washington with pitchforks, guns and blazing torches.

On one level this is nothing new, the name-calling and smears aimed at legitimate dissent. We can remember the DHS memo on right-wing extremism among returning war veterans issued just days after Obama took office. The political left is full of pious platitudes about free speech, but when they are the targets of protests, they turn to smears instead of honest debate.

Concerned about the impact of illegal aliens on the United States? Don’t miss Tom Tancredo’s book, “In Mortal Danger: The Battle for America’s Border and Security”

I’ve seen this myself, up close and personal, over the past 10 years. As a congressman, I was the target of threats on several occasions, but I never attempted to use those threats to silence my critics. If a threat was in any sense credible, I turned it over to law enforcement, not the New York Times.

Why the panic? Well, the left has good reason to fear the tea party and 9-12 activists, and their usual tactics aren’t working. Millions of ordinary citizens have become involved in political debate and protest for the first time in their lives. Patriots are worried about the loss of personal freedom that is embodied in the Obama agenda, and they are worried about our national security under a president who is more comfortable apologizing for America than defending it.

But our new citizen activists are also feared because they are effective! They do not sit home and write polite letters to the editor. They are not lulled into complacency when their congressman answers their questions with only form-letter replies.

The new citizen patriots do more than voice polite criticisms and then go home. They march, they take names, they demand answers, and they vote.

Millions of new tea-party patriots have discovered that Obama and the left have no answers. Obamacare is unconstitutional, you say? So what, they reply. We liberals have been doing unconstitutional politics for a hundred years, and that has not stopped us.

We can’t afford it, we are going bankrupt, you say? We can raise taxes again and again, because most of our supporters do not pay taxes and no one cares about the distant future anyway. We have the votes, and we will cram it down your throat.

Tea-party patriots are not buying it. But can they stop the next Obama cram-down – amnesty?

Ordinary citizens didn’t buy it in 2005 when George Bush and the Republican Party establishment tried to sell amnesty. Grass-roots Republicans rebelled, and the Minutemen put a big media spotlight on the cross-border traffic in Arizona, Texas and California. Millions of Americans said, “First, secure the borders!”

In 2006 and 2007, so-called bipartisan amnesty legislation was killed in Congress because ordinary Americans took the time to read it and demanded it be defeated. Now they are back, and again they have a fig leaf of Republican support from Sen. Lindsey Graham and patriots for profit like Dick Armey.

But grass-roots Americans are standing up and saying, no more! The only answer the Obama team has is to smear the opponents as un-American.

The upcoming amnesty battle in Congress will be brutal. In winning the health-care vote, Obama has tasted blood, and he likes it. Democrats in Congress may be willing to fall on their sword for amnesty after all, now that the November election looks like a disaster anyway.

Tea-party patriots oppose amnesty for many of the same reasons they opposed Obamacare: We can’t afford it, and it will make our existing problems worse, not better. Citizens also know we can’t improve our country by devaluing citizenship and rewarding unlawful entry into our country.

If anyone wonders if the amnesty lobby will use the same dirty tricks and phony accounting to sell amnesty as they used to sell Obamacare, the answer is yes. And they will play the race card again and again. If you oppose amnesty, you will be discredited as a bigot.

But unlike country-club Republicans, tea-party patriots will not be intimidated by political correctness. They know that 15 million illegal aliens impose substantial costs on taxpayers, especially in education, health care and law enforcement. They also know that the cost of the next 30 million illegal aliens will be born by their children and grandchildren.

The proponents of amnesty like to say they are “fixing a broken immigration system.” If you believe that, you’ll love their next cram-down: universal voter registration.

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