“I love my country but fear my government.” It’s a timely slogan that you can find emblazoned on assorted paraphernalia from bumper stickers and baseball caps to baby blankets. Professional Democrats tend to regard this fear and loathing of government as a right-wing pathology, but it’s liable to intensify on the left as the Obama security state intensifies its attacks on Occupiers, anti-war and anti-globalization protesters, and animal-rights activists, among other left-wing dissenters.
The surveillance, harassment, entrapment, and prosecution of activists is becoming an alarming fact of life. The bipartisan war on terror has devolved into a bipartisan war on domestic dissent, especially dissent emanating from the left: Occupiers have endured police harassment and repression that Tea Party activists only imagined. (For regular, virtually daily updates on the nascent police state subscribe to Bill of Rights Defense Committee or Reader Supported News reports, or read Rick Perlstein’s Rolling Stone posts.)
Fear-mongering and the demonization of activists as anarchists or domestic terrorists seems to have secured majority support for police-state tactics, or at least indifference to them. Still, it’s remarkable that in this election year, an endangered administration is waging war on a segment of its own base.
Democrats should worry. They have consistently dismissed the Obama Administration’s civil-libertarian critics, either taking their votes for granted or considering them excessively expensive electorally and ultimately expendable. But in a close election, it’s not clear that party loyalists, Obama groupies, gay-marriage advocates, and swing voters wary of Romney and a Republican Congress will compensate for the outrage and despair of activists and civil libertarians on the left.