Sunday, October 19, 2008

The View Inside Michelle Bachman's District

A Defense of the Sixth Congressional District of Minnesota

(Why a crazy person got elected and gets TV time)

Honestly, there’s no defense for Congresswoman Michelle Bachman’s ill-conceived appearances on major cable networks where she irrefutably stated views that are easily seen as McCarthyist or even xenophobic. No plausible explanation could possibly be sufficient to correct her verbiage. None. Nada. As a constituent of her district, I find it necessary to defend the baseless assaults on those who live here.

I’ve lived in Waverly, MN and Howard Lake, MN, Michelle Bachman’s dictrict, for most of my life. I grew up in a farming family that welcomed Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey into their home. Humphrey lived in a home on Waverly Lake. People admired him. Several schools and monuments in these cities are dedicated in his name. Since the advent of Humphrey, this was considered “safe” territory for Democrats. Candidates didn’t think they had to campaign here because they thought the vote was a no-brainer. After all, who votes against an icon?

This complacency led, over the last two decades, to a rebellion. Not on ideology, but on individuals. In the ‘90s, it started to become obvious that Democrats expected victories with a minimal amount of effort. In 1992, the first election where I was able to vote, I chose Cal Ludemann, the Republican, over David Minge, the Democrat. My parents were royally pissed. I defended my choice by Ludemann’s desire to campaign in my town where Minge just expected victory. I did not think anyone deserved my vote without actually trying to earn it. Minge won, but the seeds had been sown.

David Minge, in his attempt for a fifth term, was defeated by Republican Mark Kennedy, in 2000. Kennedy accoplishished this victory with the simple effort of campaigning. He went door-to-door, attended all the local festivals, and was generally accessible. In short, he earned it. Kennedy epitomized a trend in Minnesota politics that disassociated itself from the past ideologies of Humphrey. Citizens wanted a connection, not just reminders of a past long gone.

Kennedy chose to abdicate his seat to pursue an ill-fated run against Democrat Amy Klobuchar. His Republican successor, Michelle Bachman, defeated Patty Wetterling in 2006. Bachman did this not just by smearing her opponent, but also by showing up. Bachmann campaigned hard in every city of her district. Her campaign realized every vote mattered. Accessibility equals victory.

Bachman championed 2nd Amendment rights and the pro-life platform. I have many friends that voted for her just for these issues. Her constituents are largely rural and religious. The Democratic candidate Wetterling never showed up; relying on the “Not Bush” demographic to persuade voters. It just doesn’t work. Not on a state level.

After her congressional win, Bachman expanded her reach to citizens. She spoke at a Memorial Day service at Waverly, stating she had spent summers there. I have no recollection of Bachman despite spending pretty much my whole life in Waverly. Guess I was at the wrong place at the wrong time in a city of 600 people. It was still better than the Democrat that never showed up. To her credit, Bachman also created a mobile office which allowed constituents to voice their concerns on a regular basis. She has attempted to make politics local, which is something more politicians should aspire to do.

Her populist pretensions aside, Bachman is obviously nuts. Her views are best suited to those who like the cover of a book but never choose to read it. Whether she is overly-patriotic or just outright hateful depends solely on your ability to understand American history. We are all American citizens, wanting nothing but the best for our country and our children. By questioning our patriotism, Bachman indicts herself. She does not speak for the people, but against them.

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