Michele Bachmann is currently campaigning for the Republican 2012 nomination for President. With her Tea Party views espoused on a regular basis, Bachmann has received vast news attention for being far more right-leaning than the average general election voter would support. Socially, however, Bachmann has left the financially-focused Tea Party political stance and is focused on using her own Christian beliefs to magnetize the same voting base that swept the 2010 elections. The continuously outspoken and often erroneous Congresswoman remains steadfast in holding on to antiquated social values such as the anti-LGBT bigotry regularly expressed by her campaign and now by her husband.
Leader of the family’s “Christian” counseling center, Bachmann and Associates, Marcus Bachmann concentrates on marital and familial issues, beginning with children at the age of five years old. He holds a Master’s Degree in education/counseling from Pat Robertson’s Regents University and a PhD from the formerly bankrupt Union Graduate Institute in Clinical Psychology. During an interview picked up by the mainstream press early last week, Dr. Bachmann discussed his views on the LGBT community. Dr. Bachmann saw no issue in using his “qualifications” as a clinical psychologist and director of a “mental health services clinic” to add an extra weight to his direction on averting or abating homosexuality, going directly against the APA and AMA.
Dr. Bachmann has continued to make numerous statements as to God’s view which he claims his is in direct line with, on the gay community and the level of respect — or lack thereof — such “barbarians,” as he calls homosexuals, deserve. While many outlets have focused on the Bachmann comments regarding the need for Christians to educate the barbarians of our day “gay people”, there is much more within his comments and work that is troubling.
The Bachmann’s have had 23 foster children, in addition to their five children, come and go through their home between 1992 and 2000. All of the foster children have been girls and have needed the psychological support and services being made available due to Dr. Bachmann’s vocational background. Their home was legally labeled a treatment home dealing with short term (from a few months to over a year,) rehabilitations. In the aforementioned interview, he speaks of disciplining gay children. The obvious question is what kind of discipline is he endorsing? Has he ever used “discipline” on any of the foster children? Does he use or teach this discipline at his clinic?
“We have to understand: barbarians need to be educated. They need to be disciplined. Just because someone feels it or thinks it doesn’t mean that we are supposed to go down that road. That’s what is called the sinful nature. We have a responsibility as parents and as authority figures not to encourage such thoughts and feelings from moving into the action steps…”
– Marcus Bachmann, 2010
Speaking to Point of View Radio Talk Show’s right-leaning Christian audience, Bachmann was talking with an authority backed by God and that of “Doctor” who was trying to help the “sinful” parts of the nation come into one with their Creator. As a former Jehovah’s Witness, I know the power of someone with that respect in and out of the congregation speaking about what “needs to be done.” Christians, especially those in evangelical or fundamentalist denominations, are taught to unquestionably follow these perceived authority figures, like Dr. Bachmann, who are placed in such positions of regard to, among other things, lead the way in teaching those on the outside.
This added layer to Michele Bachmann’s campaign raises a few troubling issues for progressives and the LGBT community, a few frightening nightmares that some aren’t considering.
With her unending rhetoric, staunch stance on social issues, and the now obvious choice to utilize the mental health “expertise” of her fundamentalist Christian husband, the Congresswoman has established an organized, vetted (at least on the surface) force among the Right. On a daily basis this growing a base of supporters is helping to create a far-right conversation on the campaign trail that that is already forcing other Republican primary candidates, as well as President Obama, to answer questions for which they are not prepared — and forcing them to move even farther Right.
Mitt Romney, and other “country club” Republicans who would just as soon steer clear of addressing increasingly marginalized, fringe social groups, will have to venture down that road in debates and campaign stops in order to keep the “Bachmann Effect” (yes we are coining the phrase) Tea Party and religious supported attack at bay. What does the Bachmann Effect mean when it comes Election Day?
Many have written off or scoffed at the idea of Michele Bachmann becoming a presidential nominee, let alone assuming the office of the President of the United States. However, ignoring or dismissing what seems like an impossibly crazy idea has time and again proven to be a disastrous eventuality for those refusing to acknowledge the potential of such an outcome. There is a reason that bookies will add the 100 to 1 horse to the betting board — sometimes that horse wins.
The fact is over the last four years no one has really been able to fully estimate the effect of politicians and their message. Republicans seriously underestimated the power of “Yes We Can” and the 2008 Obama for America machine. Democrats and Republicans underestimated the power of the Tea Party movement in the 2010 mid-term election. Now we have pundits and pollsters underestimating the power of a woman, backed by religious leaders, congregants and the Word of God, combined with moral fortitude, and her husband, making headway with a group of voters who have, and will yet again, vote as a bloc for “God’s choice.”
While I, too, cannot see a President Bachmann in our future, the effects of such a campaign further polarizing the right and the left of this country is already being realized and will undoubtedly create consequences for both civil activists and the LGBT equal rights movement in the U.S. We have grown ever closer to full federal equality, with many beginning to see the possibility of a time when organizations like HRC, the Task Force, GLAAD and GetEQUAL will be able to put down their mantles of “fighting for our rights” and pick up a mantle similar to that of the NAACP — one that is vigilant in maintaining our culture and combatting rogue elements, rather than mainstream ones.
We shall see over the coming months the manifestations and eventuality that the “Bachmann Effect” will have on the political scene. There is however, one thing we already know, the religious right has found its spokesperson and she isn’t as easily discredited in the eyes of the Iowa caucus voters as progressives on the coasts would like to believe.
Having been embraced by religious and conservative pundits, media and voters, the Bachmanns form a winning team. We haven’t even seen the full capacity of those who are backing her, or the base that appears to be growing, the average American. What will this team win? Let’s just say I won’t be betting on the 100 to 1 horse in this race.
Growing up in Northern Ontario as a Jehovah’s Witness, Michael Talon experienced firsthand the struggle for equality. Now living in the U.S. with his partner, they work with advocates for federal equality, including immigration. Working side by side, Michael and his partner Brad, head of Luna Media Group, help to deliver messages for equality to the nation.
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