Minnesota lawmaker’s candidacy would push conservatives even farther right.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) is flirting with the idea of a 2012 presidential bid and has spent the past several weeks wooing her base of Tea Party people and home-schoolers. Bachmann has already won the hearts of conservatives in Iowa, which hosts the first major event in the presidential nominating process; On April 16 she will appear at an event in South Carolina, where another key early state primary takes place. The event has rapidly ballooned from an anticipated 200 attendees to 2,000-plus.
The charismatic Bachmann is quickly outshining other potential Republican contenders. That’s good for Bachmann, but bad for African-Americans, about whom she has some rather bizarre ideas. She also doesn’t know much about history.
At a Tea Party event in Iowa earlier this year, Bachmann spoke about the history of people immigrating to America: “It didn't matter the color of their skin...their language...their economic status...whether they descended from nobility or whether they were of a higher class or a lower class. It made no difference,” she gushed. “Once you got here, we were all the same.”
Bachmann also said that slavery is a “scourge on our history” but the founding fathers “worked tirelessly until slavery was no more,” conveniently forgetting that many of them actually owned slaves.
“She has made some statements that reveal a profound lack of information on our nation’s racial history,” said Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, who is a fellow member of the Minnesota delegation.
Bachmann also vehemently opposed the Pigford settlements to compensate Black farmers for years of discrimination and has on more than one occasion accused many of the farmers and their attorneys of trying to perpetrate a fraud. She also believes that the fact that not one USDA employee has been fired or suspended for having discriminated against the farmers is another reason the settlement is “unjustifiable” and that every single claim should be investigated.
Despite her growing popularity among conservatives, it’s very unlikely that Bachmann could actually win the GOP nomination. What she could do, however, is force the other candidates to adopt extreme-right views.
“I think she would offer a vision of America that would roll back civil rights, womens’ rights, economic fairness. And she’s such a charismatic figure that she would force the contestants on the Republican side to say, ‘Me, too,’ or maybe even [go further right],” Ellison said. “But I also think that the average American is not with that program, so it would create a lot of trouble for the Republicans. In fact, in many ways her getting into the race isn’t an unwelcome development for Democrats.”
(Photo: AP Photo/Evan Vucci)