The Case for Michele Bachmann
- Daren Jonescu Wednesday, December 7, 2011
The Republican Establishment long ago settled on Mitt Romney as its preferred representative. Endless commentary and polling was expended trying to create the broad impression that he was the inevitable choice anyway, so conservatives should just get on board. The effort was wasted. The early stages of the primary process established only one thing with absolute certainty: Tea Party conservatives, the most serious and motivated faction in the process, will not support Romney.
What was described as “strong and steady” polling early on has revealed itself for what it really was all along: a flat-lining campaign. No amount of money and organization was able to will Romney past that twenty-five percent barrier. The “flavor of the week” challengers, as some have tried to dismiss them, are not going away. That is to say, the names may change, but the impetus to seek alternatives will not.
Recognizing this, even some Establishment types are beginning to look for a Plan B. Some believe they have found it in Newt Gingrich. They have a point: He is a clever enough politician to have understood better than Romney which way the wind was blowing, and he has found his way into, if not the hearts, then at least the frightened calculation, of some conservatives. The problem with Gingrich, however, is that his career reveals him to be a man for whom “which way the wind is blowing” is more than just a tactical consideration: it is his core. He does not want to save his country as much as he wants to be world-famous for doing so. Newt is for Newt. Part of his method is to find a trend, and then leap onto it with such gusto that he almost appears to be the leader of the movement. One recent example of this was his big Social Security proposal, delivered with the typical Gingrich white paper brio–and which, at its essence, was merely a reiteration of the plan, modelled on the Chilean system, which Herman Cain had been pitching for months.
On the subject of Gingrich the political animal, George Will makes the point succinctly in his Dec. 4 column:
“[He] embodies the vanity and rapacity that make modern Washington repulsive. And there is his anti-conservative confidence that he has a comprehensive explanation of, and plan to perfect, everything.”
Gingrich is what is sometimes euphemistically called a “big government conservative.” He differs from Obama and the leftists in his goals and strategies, but he agrees with them on a principle more fundamental and dangerous than any particular plan or policy: He believes the government can know how to correct society’s problems, and that the role of statesmen is to implement the kinds of policies and regulations that will solve those problems. The true conservative does not believe in big plans, big ideas, and big systems (Gingrich’s bread and butter). The conservative believes that the “role” of government is to reduce the role of government—to stop having grand visions, and seeking to implement them. The conservative does not believe compassion is a governmental function. The conservative does not believe government can provide happy endings.
The conservative believes that the way a constitutional republic “improves” its citizens is negatively: Leave them to their own devices, let them make their own decisions, protect their rights to life, liberty and property, and allow the resulting need for individual responsibility to inculcate self-reliance, initiative and pride in each citizen, along with mutual good faith and respect among them. If the government will not “take care of” your elderly parents, then you must be there for them. If the government will not “educate” your children, then you must provide for their education. The childish self-absorption which passes itself off as freedom today, and which leads to so many societal ills, will quickly dissipate as people are forced—not by government, but by reality—to think and act for themselves, and to take full responsibility for the results of their choices.
Many conservatives, who are opposed on principle to the Gingrich-style “big ideas” Republican, like to talk about Calvin Coolidge as their ideal: the man who simply walks into the job, manages things around the office for a while, and then resumes his private life, leaving as few fingerprints on the country as possible. The problem, however, is that Western civilization is now so far away from the model of a free and morally healthy society of self-supporting and self-regulating individuals that a new Coolidge will not do. America needs someone who can lead—not in the manner of a grand planner, but in the manner of an effective spokesman for radical change.
For that is the secret of this moment. The radicals are not Obama and the Occupy Wall Street crowd. Those people are merely an extension of the trend of the age. They are trying to accelerate the nation’s progress down an errant path, to be sure, but they are proposing no new path. That is why so many people are unable to see the nightmare future that the Tea Partiers see when they look at America’s trajectory: In truth, Obama’s “transformative” agenda is simply the path of least resistance. The challenge for conservatives, and for the next Republican president, if the next presidency is to be about anything better than a slight change of speed, is to accept that, in the current moral and political climate, they, the conservatives, are the true radicals. They are the ones calling for genuine “transformation,” insofar as they are seeking to unravel almost a century’s progressive defilement of the law and culture of the United States.
The first challenge, then, is to choose a spokesman who understands the dire state of the economy as something bigger than another fiscal bullet to be dodged, or problem to be finessed, but rather as a big red warning sign for civilization: Road Ends.
Secondly, this person must be prepared to stand firm against extraordinary opposition. This is not about thick skin, or clever comeback lines. The President who does what absolutely must be done at this moment must be someone who says, “No, there can be no compromise on basic principles. What’s necessary is necessary. I won’t budge. Go ahead—hate me, call me a failure, accuse me of having no heart, accuse me of being facile and simplistic, produce polls showing that support for my goals is shrinking. The country and the free world cannot afford another leader who worries about appearing out of touch with the academic class, the pundit class, or the popular culture. Politically correct applicants need not apply. Judge me on Election Day.”
Third, this person should have a track record that shows the kind of backbone required to follow through on the first two points. That is to say, as much as Tea Partiers crave an anti-Washington voice in the White House, anti-Washington need not mean a complete Washington outsider. The reason it might appear so is that, in practice, even the brightest hopes of conservatives past have usually shown a weakness for the peer pressure and arm-twisting that passes for collegiality and compromise in Washington. But this is all the more reason to be wary of even the most impressive-seeming outsider: You never know for sure what will happen when he or she becomes an “insider,” and conservatives have been disappointed so many times. No, enough Washington experience to have proven one’s mettle in real fights—not just against Democrats, but against fellow Republicans, the media, everyone—is, if not a necessity, certainly an attractive feature for a Republican presidential candidate to have this time around.
Fourth, the candidate the Tea Partiers seek must be someone who understands the moral underpinnings of the crisis facing America, and have practical—and conservative—suggestions for dealing with it. It must be someone capable of re-instilling in citizens of all backgrounds the (small-r) republican idea of citizenship, of belonging to the community as a proud dues-paying member, rather than as a benefit-seeking dependent. This is the surest way, in the long run, to undermine the Left’s class warfare stratagems, and to peel away the ugly layer of class envy that is so antithetical to the American spirit. Children often resent the authority their parents have over them because they know they are ultimately dependent and unable to support themselves. To create a non-tax-paying “underclass” is to approximate that resentment scenario on a large scale. (Which is why Democrats favor it.) If everyone is contributing, no one need feel indebted to—or resentful of—anyone else.
Is there anyone in this primary race who clearly exemplifies all four of the requirements I have just enumerated? To ask the question is immediately to see the answer: There is Michele Bachmann.
On the debt ceiling, ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank, and on and on, others in the race are talking big, or gradually calibrating their positions to find the right tone for the Tea Party voter, whereas Bachmann has been solidly on the mark all along. What’s more, she has stood her ground on these issues, not only against Nancy Pelosi, but also against the Boehner House’s bullying tactics and ostracism. She has clearly been marginalized and lost opportunities for advancement within Congress as a result of some of her positions. And yet she has stood firm. She has been mocked as a crank, a doomsayer, and an extremist for being so principled. And yet she has stood up to it.
Unapologetic conservative, in spite of having been specifically targeted by the Democrat machine
She has won three congressional elections as an unapologetic conservative, in spite of having been specifically targeted by the Democrat machine, especially in 2010. She has proven herself willing and able to fight, and to do so without pulling punches (as McCain did against Obama in ‘08).
If Tea Party conservatives are serious this year, as they were in 2010, then they desire three things out of their candidate:
1.Someone willing to fight for the U.S. Constitution, not just rhetorically, but with a defense of the Constitution’s limits on presidential authority that directly corresponds to his or her actual policy proposals (i.e. no “big government conservatism”).
2.Someone prepared to look the nation in the eye and say, “Our current path is suicidal. This is not a policy crisis; it is a principle crisis. America will not survive on this path. This is the fork-in-the-road moment.”
3.Someone who can prove that he or she is not merely saying what is fashionable during the Republican primaries, but was on the right side of this fight even before there was a Tea Party.
Michele Bachmann is the candidate who most consistently answers to these desires. That is why she seemed to be the Tea Party voters’ choice during the summer. Clever manipulation of the process and the perceptions of this campaign by the media and the Republican Establishment have pushed her voice to the background, and then created a premature sense of inevitability around other candidates that may have scared some conservatives out of their wits and their better judgment. It is time for those conservatives to come back to their senses, take stock of the options one more time, stop panicking about Romney, or listening to the mainstreamers’ nonsense about electability—and come home to the only candidate in this race who was widely identified as a leading voice within the Tea Party right from its beginnings.
And consider this: The lament of serious constitutionalists for years now is that even when, ever so rarely, one of their own gets elected to the House or Senate, he is typically treated as a pariah, even within his own party apparatus, or is forced to yield somewhat to the party establishment in order to be at all effective as a legislator. For every Jim DeMint or Paul Ryan, there are a dozen or more McConnells, Boehners, and the like, who talk like conservatives when the occasion calls for such talk, while allowing the United States to drift sleepily towards the cliff. Imagine the effect of a President Bachmann on that dynamic within the House and Senate. Think of the fresh constitutionalist air that might blow through that intellectually dank Capitol building were the tone-setter in the White House neither a Leftist ideologue nor a business-as-usual career politician.
The Establishment has tried to frighten the Tea Party with the idea that, for all their useful support, “they” (i.e. their truest elected representatives) are not ready to govern. The tactic seems to have enjoyed partial success. Conservatives seem to be falling back on the long-term “plan” of putting off till tomorrow what they could have done today. The problem is that, ready or not, there is no tomorrow for the Tea Party and its dreams of individual liberty, budget sanity, and constitutionally limited government.
Michele Bachmann is the clearest conservative voice in the primaries. She is the most legitimate representative of the Tea Party in this process. This election has real historic significance well beyond the superficially “historic” dimension that played a role in 2008. On the other hand, as it can’t hurt to use every tool at one’s disposal, there is no denying that for those who like superficially “historic” elections, there is something interesting about the sound of President Michele….
Daren Jonescu has a Ph.D. in Philosophy from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He currently teaches English language and philosophy at Changwon National University in South Korea. He can be reached at email@example.com.
She lost my vote when she voted for the Defense Bill,which takes away some of our basic rights as Americans.
Larry........please cite the rights you will lose and where it's located in the Defense Bill you reference.
The right to a trial,No Miranda rights, No lawyer.The article was on here two days ago.
Larry.........not sufficient. You need to quote the language in legislation that cites your argument.....
Here's a part of the NDAA passed by the House that Bachmann signed......it's reads solid to me:
And as Stingray says, the NDAA differing Senate and House language must be ironed out in a "conference committee".......
(a) Custody Pending Disposition Under Law of War-
(1) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in paragraph (4), the Armed Forces of the United States shall hold a person described in paragraph (2) who is captured in the course of hostilities authorized by the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40) in military custody pending disposition under the law of war.
(2) COVERED PERSONS- The requirement in paragraph (1) shall apply to any person whose detention is authorized under section 1031 who is determined--
(A) to be a member of, or part of, al-Qaeda or an associated force that acts in coordination with or pursuant to the direction of al-Qaeda; and
(B) to have participated in the course of planning or carrying out an attack or attempted attack against the United States or its coalition partners.
(3) DISPOSITION UNDER LAW OF WAR- For purposes of this subsection, the disposition of a person under the law of war has the meaning given in section 1031(c), except that no transfer otherwise described in paragraph (4) of that section shall be made unless consistent with the requirements of section 1033.
(4) WAIVER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY- The Secretary of Defense may, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, waive the requirement of paragraph (1) if the Secretary submits to Congress a certification in writing that such a waiver is in the national security interests of the United States.
(b) Applicability to United States Citizens and Lawful Resident Aliens-
(1) UNITED STATES CITIZENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.
(2) LAWFUL RESIDENT ALIENS- The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to a lawful resident alien of the United States on the basis of conduct taking place within the United States, except to the extent permitted by the Constitution of the United States.
(c) Implementation Procedures- (1) IN GENERAL- Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall issue, and submit to Congress, procedures for implementing this section.(2) ELEMENTS- The procedures for implementing this section shall include, but not be limited to, procedures as follows:(A) Procedures designating the persons authorized to make determinations under subsection (a)(2) and the process by which such determinations are to be made.(B) Procedures providing that the requirement for military custody under subsection (a)(1) does not require the interruption of ongoing surveillance or intelligence gathering with regard to persons not already in the custody or control of the United States.(C) Procedures providing that a determination under subsection (a)(2) is not required to be implemented until after the conclusion of an interrogation session which is ongoing at the time the determination is made and does not require the interruption of any such ongoing session.(D) Procedures providing that the requirement for military custody under subsection (a)(1) does not apply when intelligence, law enforcement, or other government officials of the United States are granted access to an individual who remains in the custody of a third country.(E) Procedures providing that a certification of national security interests under subsection (a)(4) may be granted for the purpose of transferring a covered person from a third country if such a transfer is in the interest of the United States and could not otherwise be accomplished.(d) Effective Date- This section shall take effect on the date that is 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and shall apply with respect to persons described in subsection (a)(2) who are taken into the custody or brought under the control of the United States on or after that effective date.
How can we bring Michele Bachman back to a more prominent position in this candidate race? I've been waiting for someone to support her more and encourage the Tea Partiers, Patriots, and conservatives to consider her more highly than just saying, "She's unelectible". If I vote for her, I want to know that many other conservatives will do the same so I'm not throwing away a vote that goes nowhere. I had wanted to make her my candidate to vote for originally but then I hear this talk all over Freedom Connection about how great Cain, Paul and others were so good for this position. Yet, still, even after leaning toward Gingrich for someone to 'collect' our different views together and be strong enough to combat the enemy, I still yearn to vote for Michelle. She is ALWAYS elevated by those who have interviewed her; that should take away my reluctance to believe that she can handle this. But then, again, I want to know that others will support her platform too. Who will bring her to the forefront once again? Why doesn't the Tea Party say, ok, this is who we choose so that we could follow suit. We want conservative leaders but then some say we need a 'moderate' or no one would vote for her. What a bunch of nonsense this political game is. I weary of it. Let's stick to the elementary issues and apply the tactics that our forefathers used and get this job done once and for all, according to our constitution. Someone needs to send every Christian, Conservative, Liberarian, Independent and anyone else that might care, a real big endorsement of Michelle Bachman saying basically: "This is who you should vote for! We are in this together."
Hjoridis.......a candidate won't win if potential voters look around at what others are saying....maybe falsely....and base a vote on what the crowd is doing. If you believe in Bachmann, send her money and support her......you waste your vote if you vote for someone you have problems just because others are doing it..
I'll vote for her,the others are just politics as usual, Newt = more illegal aliens,Romney = Obamacare,Ron Paul = weak national defense,the rest of them no chance.
My only question about Michele Bachmann from day one is her lack of interest in Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5 of the U.S.C.
She and others have never responsed to my letter on that subject. The question for the voter is; Does support of PART of the Constitution meet their idea of a President who will bring us back from the brink? It seems to me we have had a lot of those types in our short history.
The Department of Energy, Education, Osha, Federal Reserve and Homeland Security are all Unconstitutional.
Is there anyone running that has the back-bone to abolish these Departments?
Who gives a damn? That is your big issue?
I give a damn! That is THE issue! Either they are for all of the constitution or none at all! They all pretend to care about all of it! They all cherry pick the parts they want to defend and the other parts they want no part of and will not defend! So, the question for us as PFA members is, do we defend ALL of the Constitution or be no different than those in DC and only cherry pick our interests?
Hell yea,It is my biggest issue.You follow the Constitution and everything else will fall in to place.