Bachmann: The GOP’s Great Uniter?

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


Kicking off Republicanpalooza 2011—otherwise known as CPAC—Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) called for conservative unity in the lead-up to the 2012 elections. In recent weeks, internal fights have revealed major fault lines in the national party: social conservatives, including Mike Huckabee and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-La.) have boycotted CPAC over the inclusion of gay conservative group GOProud, and on Capitol Hill, tea party freshmen have revolted against Speaker John Boehner on spending cuts and the extension of the Patriot Act.

A potential 2012 contender for president, Bachmann presented herself as a unifying figure for conservatives in disarray, despite her own reputation as a far-right flamethrower. Almost seeming to evoke Christine O’Donnell’s infamous campaign slogan—”I am you”—Bachmann told the crowd:

You’re also a very broad-based coalition. Some of you who are gathered here today, all of your passion is about fiscal conservatism, and I am one of you. And for some of you are here, your passion is about defending the moral values that grounded this country, and I am one of you. And some of you are all about national security and making sure we continue our legacy of peace through strength—I am one of you.

That being said, Bachmann devoted the bulk of her speech to fiscal concerns, railing against Obama’s “socialism” and “evil bureaucrats” and warning the college students in the crowd that the government could end up taking away “75 percent” of their income in taxes. She paid only the briefest lip service to social issues and national security, focusing instead on the political goalposts of retaking the White House and gaining control of the Senate. In line with the new tea party slant of the GOP, she roused the crowd by chanting the New Hampshire state slogan: “Live Free or Die! Live Free or Die!”

But the recent revolts on the right have shown that Republicans could struggle to hold together their coalition in the run-up to 2012, now that they have the reins to govern in the House. Though Bachmann herself had ample praise for Boehner in her speech, she also railed against raising the debt ceiling—another looming civil war that could pit the tea party against the leadership in the GOP. Bachmann’s love for incendiary rhetoric may indeed draw her support from diverse corners of the Republican base, but she’s yet to cut the same profile with social conservatives and security hawks as the likes of Sarah Palin. Her call for unity may have presidential undertones, but it may not have real legs.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.