Where Will Bachmann Build Her Next Bridge?

Michelle Bachmann squeaked by Jim Graves Tuesday night to win her fourth term in the United States House of Representatives.  So now what?

I believe a strategy that turns Bachmann into an asset for progressives is the smartest approach.  She’s won, she’ll be in the public spotlight, and she’s a disgraceful joke.  Any remnants of the regressive Tea Party that remain after yesterday’s election should be made to go down with her.  And in that way, it can be useful, even if it is painful, to have Bachmann as a standing reminder of how inept poorly chosen leaders can be.

A couple things work in favor of ensuring this victory is Bachmann’s last.

First, she won this election based on the broad support of fellow travelers pumping millions of dollars from across the country.  The radical American right elected Bachmann as much as our misguided neighbors in Minnesota Congressional District Six did.

Bachmann won’t have a presidential election to use as a stage in two years.  Her short-lived success as a GOP presidential candidate gave her an appearance of credibility on the national stage.  That is gone.

Michele Bachmann

Instead, unless Bachmann changes her stripes (maybe someone can pray away her crazy), she has two years to reinforce her true character and that character is not good.  Even her own party prefers to stay at a distance from her making her an amazingly ineffective multiple-term representative.

In the last election Bachmann had the bridge over the St. Croix River south of Stillwater to sell as an accomplishment.  She doesn’t have another boondoggle to promote, nothing that will be accomplishment before the next election cycle.  Moreover, Bachmann would not have that bridge without the work and cooperation of others, especially Amy Klobuchar (more about this in a future post).

It would be nice to think that perhaps Bachmann’s experience has mellowed her some; maybe should would be willing to build a bridge of a different kind, one that would bridge the political aisle.  But don’t count on it.

First of all — and I saw this with sincerity — I don’t think Bachmann has the moral character or the intelligence to either want to do this or be able to do this.  Bachmann is among the worst of the worst when it comes to ranking the bottom of our political leaders…and today that takes some doing.

Secondly, only hours after Tuesday’s historic election, the GOP sounds like it is positioning itself for more of the same.  I have been listening to interviews and reading commentary all morning.  Conservatives, with few exceptions, have not changed their rhetoric.

(Mitch McConnell, it is important to note, has softened his anti-American rhetoric.  He hasn’t said his priority is making Barack Obama a one term president this year, although I think it would be funny if he did and it would be maybe the most realistic comment he has made in years.)

Thank you, Jim Graves.

With more credible colleagues circling the wagons and a base — albeit shrinking — of narrow minded misguided voters of the Tea Party ilk, Bachmann has cover and she has an audience.  That’s all she wants and needs.  Minnesota?  Just a means to an end.

For that reason it isn’t too early to start pushing Bachmann now.  We know who she is, we know what she is about.  I see little sense in trying to work with her.  She has to go and the effort to unseat her started in this election.  It didn’t end last night.

An approach that focuses more on positive differences from Bachmann is an overdue approach.  The people who are voting for Bachmann are voting for her at least in part — if not for the most part — because they agree with her outrageous positions and ideas.  Running negative campaigns, therefore, become in a twisted way a positive reinforcement of Bachmann’s base.

Clearly we cannot give Michele a pass on the overly-abundant negative side of her career.  I simply think we need to focus on what makes her opponent different and better.  Don’t overlook promoting the positive.  Differentiate and divide.

And, finally, for that, better Minnesotans and Americans need to thank Jim Graves, his team, and all the people who worked on his behalf and gave him the support he needed to put Michele Bachmann on her heels.

Keep pushing!

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