Once upon a time, I counted myself a Republican.  It’s a true story.  And not just a Republican, but a hard-core, social-conservative Republican.  I was anti-abortion-rights, pro-death-penalty, pro-prayer-in-schools.  I was your cliche, full-on, religious-conservative Republican.  And I lived in the US at the time, and was surrounded by friends who felt the same.

*edit*: A point for new readers: this is notable because I am now a passionate supporter of the Democratic party, and interned in the office of a very progressive House of Representatives Democrat.

Yes, I changed.  I changed a lot.  I feel like I learnt a lot about the world, and realised the danger of using one’s personal religious beliefs as the basis of Public Policy.  And my personal beliefs changed too.  But the lasting legacy of all that is that I understand cultural conservatives, and I take them seriously.

Cultural conservatives are serious people.  They are not to be laughed at.  I mean, you can laugh at them if you like, but that doesn’t really help the debate.  They are people who passionately hold a set of beliefs, believe they are right, and that they can invoke a higher authority to justify their rightness, and who will fight, fight, fight for what they believe.

Which is why Michelle Bachmann’s announcement, also, should be taken seriously.

Because, unlike Palin, she speaks a very specific language to a very specific set of people.  And while some may laugh at “authenticity”, to the community she’s a member of, she drips it.  She’s smart and knows policy, and has a set of beliefs that inform her ideas consistently.  You may not agree with that set of beliefs, but to those who do, she is an incredibly powerful figure.

Bachmann isn’t a pale imitation of Palin; if anything, it’s the other way around.

Bachmann may seem like an absurd figure to 80% of Americans, but if she can get those 20% to all vote, and convince a quarter of the rest to all vote and not to vote for Obama, she’ll be President.  Her path to the nomination is not remotely unfathomable: she’s got a strong ground game in Iowa already in place, and her appeal to the base is incredibly strong.  Her capacity to get-out-the-vote among social conservatives is phenomenal.  And she has both social and economic conservative credentials.

Liberals will write her off at their own peril.  I have full faith that Obama can defeat a run-of-the-mill, bland Republican.  Bachmann, on the other hand, scares me.

7 Responses

  1. Erin, your assertion that Michele Bachmann could be a real player has been borne out in recent days by the various observations on her ‘intellectualism’, quoting books/authors (esp. economists) she has read. She is clearly making a point about Palin’s anti-intellectualism. (Or, is that Palin’s “pro-dumb”, along with all the other “pro-X/Y/Z”?)

  2. Just out of curiosity, why’d you remove the address of this blog from your contributor page on The Drum? Were you receiving hate comments or something?

  3. I saw your profile in Bob Carr’s and hence this blog. I have been following Fox news for their coverage of 2012 race and of course followed some of the outsiders. Of interest to me is Herman Cain from my US friends, who told me they were excited by his candidacy. He is almost the anti candidate in terms of lack of political skills< I am watching the Colbert report as I write, am amazed he agreed to go on.

    Certainly Michelle Backman would seem to be a bright person from her background etc, but research on You Tube of some of her more outrageous comment scares the crap out of me. I must confess it is from a web site called true nudists where I encountered these extremely hard core tea party guys. It is fascinating to see the logic they apply to support their position which enhances their sense of personal freedom, hence the divide between the liberaterian vs the strict moral compass. One guy is a very articulate person living in rural Ohio, NRA member GOP social conservative and lover of FNC. I lok forward to reading more of your pieces.

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