Michele Bachmann: Exit Stage Right
Michele Bachmann took right-wing demagoguery to new lows, setting the stage for the rise of a modern, more diverse GOP where her brand of clownery falls flat.
Admittedly, it's hardly a sad day when, amid speculations of federal investigations and a well-financed Democratic opponent, Bachmann announced this week she will not seek re-election in 2014.
A long scroll of embarrasing scenes come to mind from Bachmann's political career.
Yet, it's tough to entirely cancel out her contributions to women in politics, looking back on her as the lone woman running in a packed field for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Even liberals cried "Sexism!" when Newsweek run its now infamous "crazy eyes" cover photo of Bachmann.
She bested her all-male field snapping up the Ames Straw Poll- giving a boot to the bottom of naysayers. But just six months later, Bachmann's steam ran out finishing sixth in the Iowa caucuses and dropping out of the race.
The 57-year-old Waterloo, Iowa-native turned Minnesotan holds two law degrees and worked as an attorney for the Internal Revenue Service. She left the position to be a full-time mom when her fourth child was born. In all, she bore five children and fostered a reported 23 teenage girls.
While now known as the poster girl for the Tea Party, Bachmann was raised by Democratic parents, switching political parties during her senior year at Winona State. As a college activist and pro-life Democrat, she counseled women outside abortion clinics. Her pro-life stance stayed constant throughout her career. In fact, it was her opposition to the abortions that would be performed at the $3 million public project to build St-Paul Ramsey Medical Center that kicked off her political career in 1991.
She was first elected in 2000 to the Minnesota State Senate defeating 18-year incumbent Gary Laidig for the Republican nomination and later labor candidate, Ted Thompson. In 2006, she was elected to Minnesota's 6th Congressional District, making her the first Republican woman to be elected to the U.S. House from Minnesota.
Considering her scrappy, idealogical roots, it's easy to see how this Tea Party favorite caught fire. She was bold, fierce and unapologetic about her conservatism and faith. Honestly, that's all to the good.
But her repeatedly unfounded statements squashed her credibility - a televised claim that Barack Obama and other members of the Congress were anti-American; connecting the HPV vaccine to mental retardation; and perhaps the silliest, her belief that Americorps was a front for 'youth re-education camps.'
Bachmann's hysterics played laughably in the media reducing her to a punchline. While her outdated views on issues, such as immigration and same-sex marriage pushed moderates away further solidifying the Republican Party image as intollerant.
The dishonor she did to herself, her party and her country left a scar. Her legacy serves to re-focus our resolve as the party of the future with emerging national talents, like Nikki Haley, Marco Rubio, Mia Love and Chris Christie.
Time to usher the clowns out of the big tent and make room for the ring leaders.
- Erica Holloway is a Contributing Editor at BlogHer. Follw her at @erica_holloway.