"It's not communism though," says the Massachusetts man. "It's totalitarianism."
"No, no, no, guys, guys, don't give me that," says Ed, raising his voice. "I've done 15 years of research here."
Since the standoff began, the Browns' home has turned into a commune for anti-government activists. Admirers from across the country make their way to the secluded home on Center of Town Road in Plainfield, population 2,200, in a state where license plates carry the motto "Live Free or Die."
To get to the Browns' house, travelers ascend along a jagged gravel and dirt road, stopping at a silver sign nailed to a tree trunk on the couple's property, which warns: "If not friendly, Go, Go Away!" Unable to telephone the Browns and notify them of their arrival, some visitors proceed slowly down the long driveway or attach small flags to their trucks to show that they've come in peace.
The guests often come bearing gifts: hamburger buns, ginger ale, cellphones with prepaid minutes, gun ammunition. Someone gave the Browns their German shepherd, named Zoey. The visitors pitch tents in the Browns' yard or sleep inside the house. Some bring laptops from which they manage the Browns' blog and MySpace page, both created by volunteers.
Shaun Kranish, 21, of Rockford, Ill., read about the Browns online earlier this year. In March, he drove to New Hampshire and spent a few nights at their home talking about politics and freedom. A gun rights advocate, he started a website, MaketheStand.com, devoted to the couple's battle. He has solicited rechargeable flashlights and candles for the Browns and helped promote concerts supporting them.
People back the Browns, he says, because they are standing against everything that is wrong with government.
"It's about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," Kranish says. "It's about the truth about the 9/11 attacks . They're saying, 'We're not going to be a part of it; we're not going to fund it.' "
There are 250,000 to 500,000 people in the United States who are tax protesters, says JJ MacNab, a financial analyst who has written a book on the issue and testified before Congress on behalf of law enforcement.
Some, she says, are elderly, uneducated or disenfranchised people who buy into tax evasion scams. Others are disgruntled — sometimes dangerous — citizens who believe the wording of tax laws does not make them liable to pay.
"The tax laws are almost 100 years old, and no one has ever won," she says. "Thousands and thousands of people have challenged them. It's a constant flow of the same tired arguments over and over."
MacNab says the Internet has connected Iraq war veterans, college students, minorities and women to the tax protest movement, which was once associated mostly with white supremacists and militia groups that held meetings at local diners.
Supporters have hailed the Browns as heroes, akin to Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., which has made law enforcement officials cautious about turning them into martyrs.
"There are lots of people that want it to be over," says Stephen Halleran, Plainfield's town administrator. "They feel Ed and Elaine need to play by the same rules as the rest of us."
Halleran says the Browns have always had strong beliefs, but they haven't been considered dangerous until now.
Residents are anxious, he says, because of the steady stream of out-of-towners — white supremacists, anarchists and other activists — roaming through Plainfield and showing up at community meetings. Neighbors with children worry about what could happen if the standoff ends in gunfire.
MacNab, who has studied tax protesters since 1997, says some supporters of the Browns have compiled a list of enemies — including judges and journalists — and their families. People have warned that if the couple die, retaliatory killings will follow.
MacNab has little faith the Browns will turn themselves in without a fight.