The seeping-in of the far right from its longstanding status on the fringe of the GOP establishment to its newfound position in the party mainstream has created substantial seismic pressures threatening the American political landscape. The success of the Tea Party in directing the debt ceiling debate has tilted the political compass towards debt reduction and away from government-driven job creation. The result is that the Iowa Caucus may now, for the first time in recent memory, be an accurate litmus test for success during the 2012 GOP campaign season.
Far-right candidates have always had a stranglehold on the both the Ames Straw Poll and the Iowa caucus, but never in the country’s recent history has the recently labeled “teavangelical” constituency held so much national sway. Although political analysts have tended to count Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) out as a legitimate candidate in the general election, she may be able to ride this highly conservative, populist political climate all the way to the White House.
Candidates who would have undoubtedly been labeled as politically unviable – candidates whose views may at best have been branded intransigent eight or even four years ago, and at worst extremist and/or bigoted – now have a genuine shot to leapfrog their fellow GOP competition and win the nomination. Their prospects of taking the White House have never been better.
No political narrative is more indicative of the ascendance of the far right to political relevance than that of Bachmann. Save for innumerous political gaffes, such as a pathetically erroneous claim that Lexington and Concord are in New Hampshire, her social positions may previously have made her untenable even in the eyes of most conservatives. She frequently defies all conventional scientific reason in favor of extreme religious views.
In 2006 for example, she told reporters, “There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel Prizes, who believe in intelligent design.” A passionate climate change denier, she fails to acknowledge the troves of scientific evidence that global warming is not a hoax or a conspiracy to hurt the oil industry. She told reporters in 2009, "Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn't even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas."
Voters would probably be able to forgive her environmental fabrication were it not for her views on gay marriage. On November 6, 2004, she told participants of the EdWatch National Education Conference, “If you’re involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it is bondage. It is personal bondage, personal despair and personal enslavement.”
Her husband takes Bachmann’s prejudice a step further, calling homosexuals “barbarians,” and dedicating his life to a clinic that attempts to “pray away the gay.” Bachmann’s clinic is so ruthless, in fact, that families of his patients have reported severe psychological damage as a result of reparative therapy given there, blaming his practice for resulting in suicides.
After her futile performance in a separate Tea Party response to President Barack Obama’s most recent State of the Union address, and with political baggage that makes Sarah Palin’s political record look like the Virgin Mary, I would have laughed if someone attempted to convince me that she had even a prayer of being reelected in Minnesota, let alone emerging as one of three favorite to capture the GOP nomination. Yet, in a remarkably short time span, she has acquired a political astuteness previously unseen among Tea Party candidates. As the American economy has continued to flounder, some Democrats and Independents may be able to overlook her conservative social stances in favor of her populist appeal and her unwavering political will.
Many political experts have prognosticated that Bachmann will fall to Rick Perry, America’s senior governor who has the best political one-liner of any candidate on either side of the aisle, “I created 1/3 of American jobs since the recession.” In any other election cycle, I would agree with this consensus view. However, in this anti-incumbent political environment, and with some legitimate gripes against Obama’s presidential performance, I’ve come to terms with what was always possible, but never plausible until now: President Michele Bachmann.
Photo Credit: AreFlaten