Friday, January 06, 2012

Not a politician

"And while a congressman by title, a politician I never have been, nor will I ever hope to be, because I am not motivated in this quest by vainglory or the promise of political power. I have served one singular purpose in Washington, D.C., to lead an effort that was begun by the people of this country. I ran as the next stepping stone of passing on and protecting that torch of liberty..." —Remarks by U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN-6), January 4, 2012, suspending her campaign for the Republican endorsement for President of the United States

Although it was odd to hear her say it, those close to her would agree: Michele Bachmann is not a politician.

Bachmann was not a politician back in 1999, she was just one of a growing group of parents concerned over threats to educational freedom, primarily the state of Minnesota's controversial new Profile of Learning K-12 graduation standards, which were passed without legislative oversight as "administrative rules" by the then-Department of Children, Families and Learning. (The Profile was repealed in 2003 with Bachmann's vote, 64-3 in the Senate, 125-9 in the House, and signed by Governor Tim Pawlenty.)

Even after winning her first term in the Minnesota Senate in 2000, Bachmann was more of an accidental candidate than a politician. The freshman minority-party Senator had a wonderful office with a window on the first floor of the State Office Building — facing the parking garage. A new medium, blogs, elevated Alinsky-style ad hominem attacks against Bachmann to a new low. But her supporters were thrilled that they had helped to elect a true conservative, un-politician, a non-RINO, to the Minnesota Senate.

Even after winning the post-redistricting election in 2002 and her third term in 2004, Bachmann was not enough of a politician for some in her own caucus. "My constituents are my first priority, and they’ve consistently supported me fighting tax increases," said Bachmann in a 2005 press release. "It became especially clear on the final day of session when I offered an amendment to remove the cigarette tax from the Health and Human Services budget bill that my philosophical differences with the minority leader were just too deep for him to allow me to continue in a leadership position [as assistant minority leader]...

"Though my advocacy has cost me my leadership position," she continued, "I will continue to fight against tax increases and for the well-being of those who cannot speak for themselves [referring to her pro-life position]. The upside of today’s event is that I can be completely committed to thinking about my constituents’ concerns."

Through three successful campaigns for U.S. Congress in the Minnesota Sixth District, Bachmann was steadfast in her advocacy for lower taxes, smaller government, and greater adherence to the Constitution, making her a natural founder in 2010 of the Tea Party Caucus in the House of Representatives. At sixty members, it may not be one of the more politically-correct House caucuses, but it serves to further highlight the core principles that she and many Americans hold dear.

Perhaps Bachmann was not enough of a politician to get elected President, and even her election to a fourth term in the House is uncertain. "Who am I? I'm nobody from nowhere," she often said of herself. Eleven years from the Minnesota state Senate to the Iowa Caucuses, that is one thing that Michele Bachmann will never be again.

First day of session, Minnesota Senate, January 2003