Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), the Tea Party icon, is back in the news again. The Huffington Post is running a story about the conservative representative’s reappointment to the House Intelligence Committee and the opposition to her membership. Bachmann drew a significant amount of well-deserved criticism in 2012 for demanding the government investigate Secretary of State Clinton's aide, Huma Abedin, because family members connected to the Muslim Brotherhood organization make her a security risk.
The claims proved to be pretty baseless, though, and prompted quite a bit of backlash against Bachmann. They also made her something of hero in conservative circles. Conservative pundits came to her defense, calling her a “modern day Paul Revere.” But this is all old news. What is important is the she is still a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. This influential position, which she touted during her bid for the Republican Party presidential nomination, puts her in an influential position which she can use to justify her decidedly hawkish policy ideals.
How can adherents to a political persuasion that claims to be centered on freedom champion someone obviously as xenophobic and militaristic as Bachmann? The contradictions are so readily apparent, it is a wonder the conservative movement is not rattled apart from the cognitive dissonance. It has not, though, and that is enough to make one wonder if conservatives are really not as freedom loving as they say they are, based on their seeming unshakeable support for a war-mongering politician.
Wars rarely further freedom. The opposite is almost always true. There are some exceptions throughout history, namely the American Revolution. The problem is that wars always have effects which actually degrade freedom. For example, nations are almost always forced to go into debt to fund wars. National debt is the enemy of freedom. It will at best create a tax burden citizens will be forced to pay off years after the conflict ends. At worst, it triggers depressions. Conservatives are loudly protesting the government's fiscal problems, calling them irresponsible, bad economics, and immoral. They do not think twice about calling for wars which can be described the same way. That is not a policy of freedom.
Increased government power also accompanies war. The U.S. government has a long history of growing during wartime. From John Adam’s Alien and Sedition Act, to Lincoln's suspension of habeus corpus, to the PATRIOT Act and beyond, the federal government has a well-documented history of expanding whenever it engages in conflicts. How does a political ideology that recoils from government intrusion into the pocket book justify government intrusion into everything else?
Massive casualties often result from even “low-intensity” conflicts. Lives are lost on both sides. More are lost thanks to the poor economic conditions that usually follow. Follow-on conflicts often kill even more people. Loss of life at the hands of government action is not only the antithesis of freedom, but is also completely contrary to pro-life ideals which conservatives claim are so important.
Bachmann has never addressed any of this. She just keeps up the saber-rattling rhetoric and xenophobic ranting which made her so popular with people that claim to love freedom. Her supporters should re-examine their ideas of freedom, though, if they think that is what she and other conservative politicians stand for. The entire conservative movement should do so as well.