Michelle Bachmann exists as a symptom and a distraction. While the left (and others) writes endlessly about Bachmann, what we need to do is address the ignorant nationalistic and dominionist right-wing ideology from which she sprang.
First, we must address religious intolerance and the moral superiority complex of the far right in the United States.
Bachmann believes in Dominionism, the idea that people of faith are mandated by God to be politically involved. They believe that they need to be politically involved because they are the chosen people and the only ones that can faithfully carry out God’s plan. But Dominionism did not start nor will it end with Bachmann. Dominionism has also been called, “Christian Nationalism”, “Kingdom Now Theology”, “Dominion Theology”, or “Restoration Theology”. Bachmann and her ilk, from George Bush, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, and others practice this politicized brand of faith. And even if a candidate is not a Dominionist, groups like the Southern Baptist Convention, the Christian Coalition with their legislative agenda, Assembly of God (known for funding John Ashcroft’s congressional campaigns) among others push candidates to accept their far-right religion infused legislative agenda. They help choose the Republican Congressional candidates, in many cases being King, or should I say Queen, makers.
From gay marriage, reproductive planning, education, immigration laws, and other policy areas, Dominionists are actively trying to create public policy based on their theology. And if you are not of their faith, you are out of luck. Freedom of Religion is merely an obstacle to dominionists, not a right of all people in the United States. And if you are a practicing Muslim, dominionists won’t care about your immigration status, years of residence, community standing or law abiding history. All Muslims are suspect to the religious right. Herman Cain called forth the specter of McCarthyism by saying that Muslims would have to take a loyalty oath to work for him. Republican leaders fought the Muslim community center in New York City, Oklahoma banned Sharia law (as if it was about to be applied), among other bigoted acts and fear mongering involving Islam and the far right. Attacks against innocent people in the United States solely because of their Muslim faith increased dramatically after Sept 11, 2001. The language of the Republican party against Muslims only makes such attacks more likely.
If Republicans take over the White House and gain control of the Senate, they will pass Jim Crow style laws against Muslims as soon as they take power. After they are done with the Muslims, the atheists will be next, then non-Christians and so on.
We must also educate each other and our children to fight Republican historical revisionism.
History and economics doesn’t deter the far right from promoting failed economic policies. We have had ten years since the Bush tax cuts, and the far right still argues that tax cuts create jobs. One look at the rise in unemployment since the Bush tax cuts will disprove that theory, and a look at historical tax rates show that high tax rates can be correlated to high employment. Notice, I didn’t say that correlation of high taxes with high employment proves causality, for I am not a Republican who confuses correlation with causality. The point is, there is no evidence that tax cuts create jobs and there is plenty of anecdotal and historical evidence that tax cuts don’t work.
Republicans and the far right also argue that cutting spending at a time of high unemployment will rescue the economy. The fact is that cuts in spending leads to public and private sector layoffs. This leads to cuts into the amount if money in the economy and thus spending, which leads to further layoffs. But these economic and historical facts don’t deter the far right from demanding spending cuts, nor does it deter President Obama from considering them.
Bachmann and the right want desperately to have a gun in every pot, and so they make up history to meet their gun loving ideology. Sarah Palin, a staunch gun defender, told us that Paul Revere took his famous ride to warn the British not to take our guns. You see, she wouldn’t let historical facts get in the way of her ideology. The truth is that no Congress has ever tried to pass a ban on gun use in the United States, and they never will.
When fear of Islam was failing Bachmann, she called on the fear of the Soviet Union to rescue her. Recently on a Christian radio show, she reminded us what Americans fear, “They see the rise of China, the rise of India, the rise of the Soviet Union and our loss militarily going forward.” Doesn’t Bachmann realize that the Soviet Union is deader than Ronald Reagan?
But it fits in with her fear of the outsider and fear of the foreign, and she won’t let history deter her from calling on that fear to garner support.
Republicans like Representative Kurt Zellers ignore the fact that voting is right in order to pass laws to restrict the vote. When asked about laws restricting voting, he failed to get the facts straight, “I think it’s a privilege, it’s not a right.” Actually, it’s a right written in the Constitution in several places.
Republicans ignore the history of the Great Depression where unfettered capitalism created a run on the stock market, overproduction of goods with no buyers, and the worst economic collapse in world history, so far. They ignore this history because it interferes with their free market fetishism. They even ignore the recent history where over production and over investing in housing led to the recent recession.
Instead, the Republican leadership once again call on tax cuts as the solution, because as we have seen, tax cuts lead to reinvestment, right? And tax cuts lead to public spending cuts and leads to more layoffs. The trick is repeating that tax cuts will lead us out of the recession over and over again and convincing enough people that this is true to avoid a complete revolt.
There is also the myth that regulation hurts investment, but there are fewer regulations today then there were in the Clinton era when the economy did well. There is no evidence that a reduction in regulation helps our economy and will lead to investment, unless you count as evidence the self-serving statements of corporations who will benefit financially if they can pollute the environment and poison us with impunity.
“An analysis conducted by the Washington Post at the end of Bush’s first term found that since he took office, federal agencies had begun roughly one-quarter fewer regulations than President Clinton and 13 percent fewer than Bush’s father during their first terms.”
So, if cutting regulations will improve our economy, why after all the cuts in regulations under Bush isn’t our economy booming? The cutting of regulations leading to a better economy is a lie looking for evidence. Yes, we can find examples of over regulation and regulations that might cost us, in the short run. But regulations are put in place for the long term health of the economy.
Author Nomi Prins worked at Goldman Sachs before writing books on economics from an insiders perspective including, “It Takes a Pillage.” The book lays out the facts that a large part of the mortgage industry collapse that lead to the current recession was due to deregulation of the banking and mortgage industry. So much for deregulation saving us. It has instead lead to the biggest economic collapse in decades. Republicans lie about deregulation being the cure all because it would help out their patrons if they didn’t have to be concerned with ethical, ecological, and health and safety concerns when creating and selling their products. Again, they demand larger profits at the expense of people.
Republicans also ignore the history of abortion before and after Roe V. Wade to promote their pro-fetus agenda. Certainly, no one is “pro-abortion.” However, as this doctor points out, it is only option for some women, “The familiar symbol of illegal abortion is the infamous “coat hanger” — which may be the symbol, but is in no way a myth. In my years in New York, several women arrived with a hanger still in place. Whoever put it in — perhaps the patient herself — found it trapped in the cervix and could not remove it.”
And what of the women that didn’t make it to the hospital for medical help? While the statistics on abortion related deaths are uncertain, ranging from 1000-10,000 deaths a year before the Supreme Court Roe V. Wade decision, a thousand deaths is too much to tolerate, and banning abortion won’t change the reality that some women will die during an illegal procedure. But in the world of Republicans, a woman’s life isn’t worth that of a fetus, so safe procedures, and contraception, should be banned.
It is clear by all accounts that making abortion illegal won’t end abortions. It will, however, make them less safe for women without means. On the other hand, abortion will remain safe for the wealthy who can travel or hire private doctors to do the procedure. Republicans want to ignore this reality because they live in a fantasy land where unwanted and unsafe pregnancies won’t happen to them and theirs, and everyone has options when they become pregnant. This is not true. Not all women have options when they become pregnant.
Many of the religious right are also against the main tool used to reduce unwanted pregnancies, contraception. No one is “pro-abortion”, and it’s the far right that ignore the real consequences of a ban on abortions for their fantasy-land ideology and hatred of reproductive freedom.
We must acknowledge that Bachmann, Perry and Palin are symptoms and act accordingly.
If Republicans didn’t have Bachmann, they’d have to invent her. For too long the Democrats, progressives, liberals and moderates have let the racism and nationalism of the far right go unaddressed in policy forums. And “professional liberals” spend too much time mocking easy targets like Bachmann while ignoring the systematic exporting of jobs and cash by large corporations and the criminal military contractors like Blackwater that Jeremy Scahill writes about.
While the largest media outlets in the United States talk about Bachmann, apparently unimportant issues like corporate earnings, corporate welfare, poverty, unemployment, and a growing income gap get largely ignored. Poverty continues to be overlooked because it’s depressing and we don’t want to read or watch stories about things we can’t solve. However, “In the past six months, the Post has published online or in print 34 staff-written stories plus 12 wire service stories on Bachmann” and only five about Ron Paul who has spent twelve terms in Congress compared to Bachman’s three. Liberals need to stop adding to the Bachmann chorus and start writing about the issues.
Other underlying issues that must be address so fewer Bachmanns get undeserved press attention include: poverty, income inequality, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, fear of change, election laws and corporate speech, and lies about “family values”.
Let’s work on the issues that concern us and fight the Bachmanns of the world by promoting education, inclusiveness and good governance.