Friday, 07 January 2011

Is Michelle Bachmann the "Real Deal"?

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Is Michelle Bachmann running for president? Considering…. yes, her office confirmed on January 5th, she was considering a run. If so, then the Congresswoman brings something different from most other potential Republican candidates whose names have been floated: She has been elected from a very “progressive” state, but Michelle Bachmann has remained as true to the principles of limited, constitutional government as any member of Congress. That ought to mean a lot to those of us interested in truly draining the swamps of the Potomac. Consider other potential candidates.

Mitt Romney won election from a very Leftist state, but he hardly governed like a solid constitutionalist. There are many things to admire about the man. He loves his family; he is true to his faith; he made money the old-fashioned way, with brains and risk-taking and sweat. Romney is honest, savvy, and bright.  But for an American Republic in need radical treatment, Mitt is more a gentle Marcus Welby.

Sarah Palin is the real deal, in terms of what she believes. But Sarah won office in a state with a very strong libertarian streak and also a state which had been run by the Republican Party. There is nothing wrong with her running for president, but there is also little to suggest that on her own she could win outside Alaska. Also, and it is a bit tricky to put it this bluntly, but Sarah, like so many other good candidates, has never really had to run against the political stream. Most Alaskans, generally, approve of her philosophy of government.

The same is true of Haley Barbour, who was the popular Governor of one of the most conservative states in the nation. The stands that he has taken have not cost him anything with the voters he represents. Mississippians like his patriotic, pro-family, limited government ideas. In fact, Senator Wicker could easily lose his Senate seat because, as a moderate “conservative” he does not really represent the citizens of his state.

Newt Gingrich, if anyone is seriously considering him, suffers the same problem. It took no guts with the voters in his Georgia congressional district to take the stands that he took. Moreover, although undeniably bright, Gingrich has some personal moral issues (i.e. the marriage vow) and a wonkishness which seems to suggest a man who would like government to be “smarter, not bigger.” How about just making the federal government constitutional? 

Mitch Daniel has done an excellent job as Governor of Indiana, but like Newt, this former Budget Director for George W. Bush seems, sometimes, to view government as a tool to make life better. There is no doubt that this honest, smart, hard-working, and thrifty man would be a better president than many, but we may need much more than just that. Also, like Sarah, Haley, and Newt, Mitch comes from a pretty conservative state. Does he have what it takes to run against the stream? We don’t truly know.

Mike Huckabee is a good man in many ways. Faith, obviously, is important to him. His family is very near the center of his life too. But as Governor of Arkansas, he did not push the state toward constitutional governance. He viewed government welfare as some sort of Christian charity, though it certainly is not that. Huckabee also hailed from a state which has always been very conservative (just ask Blanche Lincoln), and at best Governor Huckabee followed the sentiments of Arkansans rather than led them. Phyllis Schafly, in particular, has had scathing comments about Huckabee.

Even dark horse candidates who have been very principled and serious — John Thune, Jim DeMint, Tom Coburn, among others — come from states in which these elected officials quite strongly and clearly represent the values of their constituents, which coincide with just what America needs: limited government based upon a serious reading of our foundational documents.

These potential candidates show the greatest appeal of Michelle Bachmann. As a congressional candidate in Minnesota who has remained absolutely true to her principles, Bachmann has had to struggle just to win re-election. In 2010, a strong Republican year, as an incumbent member of Congress, Bachmann received only about 53% of the vote. In 2008, Michelle Bachmann won with a little over 43 percent of the vote. Two years earlier, she won with a little over half the vote. Bachmann has been in the cross-hairs of secular progressives since she entered politics.  She is not afraid of them and she does not try to please them.

She also is an accomplished woman, a good mother, a person of serious faith in God. More than, perhaps, any name which has been bandied about so far, there is no doubt that President Bachmann would govern just as she campaigned. There are other strong suits in a Bachmann candidacy: She is intelligent and sounds intelligent on camera; she is an attractive middle-aged mother; she might be able to put her home state, Minnesota, into play. But the best thing about a candidacy, if she runs, is that we will all know that she is the “real deal.”

Photo: In this Feb. 9, 2010 photo, Rep. Michele Bachmann, (R-Minn.) addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington: AP Images

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