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Michele Bachmann and revolution

by Bill Prendergast on March 29, 2009 · 21 comments

By now you may have seen the “Countdown” footage in which Olbermann and Eric Alter of Newsweek discuss Michele Bachmann’s public calls for conservative audiences to “rise up” against the elected government of the United States. Bachmann’s defenders argue that she has been speaking “metaphorically,” and is not calling for citizens to use extra-legal, extra-constitutional means to stop the current White House and Congress.

I’ve been covering Bachmann here in Minnesota for about eight years. A “metaphorical” interpretation of Bachmann’s remarks would be a slam dunk if practically any other elected official had mouthed them. But given Bachmann’s actions throughout her career–you can’t assume anything like that.

If you only watch one Countdown segment on Bachmann, I recommend that it be this one. A link to the video segment appears at the bottom of this post. The post is commentary on the video and a previous attempt by Bachmann to intimidate elected officials by using a mob to impose her agenda on them.

Olbermann’s guest Jonathan Alter is an MSNBC analyst and Newsweek editor. He notes that Bachmann has “got a little problem with reality,” which is an understatement. But the real reason the discussion here is worth watching is because of what it points out about Bachmann’s latest rhetoric: it’s not about elections any more, it’s not about proceeding to change the government via constitutional or traditional political procedures–

It’s about revolution.  
Here is a US Congressional representative referring to extra-legal, non-constitutional methods to change the government and remove “Marxist” elected officials from power. (Note that conservative commenter Sean Hannity didn’t challenge that approach to changing government. I’ll bet he didn’t challenge Bachmann’s claim that Obama and congressional Democrats are “Marxists,” either.)

That’s a very un-American way for an elected official to present a call for change. Elected officials are supposed to support the system of elections that brought them to power–not to call on Americans to ignore those results and “rise up.”

As the speakers point out in the clip: if you’re unhappy with the government, your option as a citizen is to work within the law and under the Constitution to change the government via the electoral process. Bachmann isn’t talking about doing that, she’s encouraging conservatives to doing something revolutionary now, without the consent of the governed.

I think Alter is wrong when he says that Bachmann doesn’t represent the GOP–for the simple reason that they haven’t chosen to rein her in or distance themselves from this apocalyptic rhetoric. I think the current GOP strategy is to let her go out on this limb and see if it works to rally their old base. If the calls for revolution play well and re-vitalize the old base, they won’t distance themselves from her. If her calls for revolution lead to violence or assassination attempts, they will.

My criticism of Olbermann and Alter’s remarks is that they both insist that Bachmann nearly lost her last election (in the wake of calling for an investigation of anti-Americans in government.) She did nearly lose; so what? How is that near-loss “progress” (as Alter claims) when an extremist is returned to office despite the efforts of people in all fifty states to remove that extremist from office?

Olbermann probably doesn’t know that this “extra-legal” stuff is not new to Bachmann. Back when she was in the Minnesota State Senate, she led rallies attended by thousands to oppose gay marriage. At that time she was on local radio urging the demonstrators to invade the offices of her elected colleagues and physically confront them. At one of the rallies she also urged the huge audience to enter the capitol to challenge their elected officials. We expect that kind of urging from radicals outside the government who don’t believe in American democracy and representative government–but this was a case where an elected member of the government was urging a mob to intimidate elected officials into compliance with her will.

That’s not something you do if you believe in elected government, democracy or American freedom. That was an attempt to use a mob to coerce her elected colleagues in government. It demonstrated that Bachmann has no respect for constitutions or elections or the will of lawfully elected legislators–when things aren’t going her way.

Encouraging audiences to think that American elected officials are secret “Marxists” is not something new for Bachmann, either. Bachmann has in the past made similar charges against fellow Republicans. Including Minnesota Governor and potential presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, when she charged that his pet plan for the state’s economy was being formulated in accordance with the Marxist principle of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”

And incredible as it may seem, when Bachmann entered the Minnesota State Senate as a Republican she charged that President George W. Bush and the Republican Congress were overseeing federal education laws designed to prepare America’s children for future servitude in a one-world, Soviet-style economy.

This stuff goes deep into Bachmann’s psyche. People who think that Bachmann is “just speaking metaphorically” with this extreme rhetoric are not familiar with her history or her long-term political strategy and thinking. She’s fishing for extremist action here–again. If things go bad (e.g., an assassination inspired by Bachmann’s call for “immediate action” and charges of un-Americanism and Marxism in government), she’ll back off and say she meant it all “metaphorically.”

But if conservatives and extremists rally to her without killing or hurting people, she’ll accept their support and keep talking about “armed and dangerous” “rising up” so they’ll stay motivated, enraged, and frightened of their own elected government.

She’s demonstrating again that her support for American representative democracy is limited to when elections go the way she wants them to. She doesn’t want to wait for elections; she’s asking for “immediate” action. A very undesirable person to have in any government of free people.

But thank God that national media have actually started to pay attention to the wild-eyed calls for action and obscene charges that she’s been leveling on talk radio ever since she entered politics.

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