Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Michele Bachmann Sounds Terrifying Warning … Unless She’s Right, Of Course

Michelle Bachmann is back in the headlines, now serving as an advisor to the Trump campaign on religious and foreign policy issues, by warning this will be the “last election.” Is she speaking of the coming apocalypse? Not exactly, though I’m sure she and her supporters see it that way. Bachmann proclaimed that a Clinton presidency would forever change the demographics of the country, making it impossible for Republicans to reclaim the highest office in the land. This is, of course, because Mexicans and South Americans are Godless liberals that despise America – or at least the America sold by Trump and Bachmann! Her exact words:

“I don't want to be melodramatic but I do want to be truthful,” the evangelical Christian said in an interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “Brody File.” “I believe without a shadow of a doubt this is the last election. This is it. This is the last election.”
“It's a math problem of demographics and a changing United States,” she said. “If you look at the numbers of people who vote and who lives in the country and who Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton want to bring in to the country, this is the last election when we even have a chance to vote for somebody who will stand up for godly moral principles. This is it.”
Bachmann said that if Clinton were elected, she would offer “wholesale amnesty” to undocumented immigrants “so that Republicans will never again have the chance at winning Florida or Texas” and therefore be unable to secure the White House.
"She's going to change the demographics of the United States so that no Republican will ever win again," Bachmann insisted. (Daily Kos).

Beyond the obvious demagoguery here, Bachmann is employing a series of rhetorical strategies and coded phrases her worth considering. The first, obviously, is to stir up white panic around the changing demographics of the country, placing Obama and Clinton as the source of those demographic changes, even though they have been going on for several decades. The racist undertones are clear here, as they are so often with Trump, now actually leading in one national poll (Business Insider), though an electoral college victory still seems firmly within the Democrat’s reach (Politicos USA).

The second strategy here is to speak to the religious right with a rather suspect claim about morality and godlessness associated with Latino/a immigrants. The reality, of course, is that the vast majority are practicing Catholics, but this only amplifies the white panic of the aforementioned racial coding – reshaping it as white moral panic.

The third strategy used here is a tried-and-tested one of creating a “crisis dynamic” around a particular issue or vote. We are forever in a crisis in international competition, shaping the nature of our economic and educational policy. We are forever in a crisis of economic competitiveness, again heaving skewing our economic and educational policy. And it seems, almost every election cycle, this is THE election of the past century, one that will define our collective future more than any before. That might have been true with George Bush in the negative and was certainly the case over the eight years of Ronald Reagan, but the real “crisis” in this election is arguably the opposite of the one Bachmann is citing – the very real possibility that Donald Trump could have four years in office to screw up the country and its global reputation almost beyond repair.

A fourth point worth at least deconstructing is her rather odd proclamation that this is the last election that will allow anyone to vote for somebody “who will stand up for godly moral principles.” This encompasses all three of the aforementioned strategies, but goes further by claiming that no Republican nomination could again support these principles. Given the original slate of candidates for the GOP nomination, this is a real headscratcher, as it seems hard to fathom all of these losers (of the nomination process, to avoid any confusion) failing to take another shot at the presidency. This is particularly true of the scarier radical, Ted Cruz, who the media seems so enamored with as to ignore his far right platform and policy recommendations.

In any case, one does hope that Clinton does win the election and Bachmann is right, as that could mean the building of a long term trend toward more labor friendly, environmentally-conscious, income inequality abating Presidents who take on the asymmetrical power corporations currently yield over the political and economic spheres. Sing on, sister woman, sing on!

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