Michele Bachmann is Tea Party Favorite

Warner Todd Huston, my colleague at Right Wing News, has written an important analysis of the challenges for the tea party movement in 2010. See, “Tea Parties: The Biggest Mistake We’ll Make in 2010.” I’m especially interested in this passage:

There was no unifying single goal of the Tea Partiers and no agency or party directing them. This means that the raw power behind them just might go untapped because there will be no way to translate the passion to power. Every transformative movement has been led by a single man and his small group of powerful adherents but the Tea Party movement has no such leader and might just find that its passion will dissipate until there is nothing left but disgruntled followers.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the passion and was thrilled by the hundreds of Tea Parties with their millions of participants as it happened across this land in 2009. I was heartened that so many Americans were standing up to the anti-American left like that. But how do we channel that passion into something that can lead to positive change?

Without question powerful change needs is a leader. Unfortunately, unless a leader steps forward that can gather all those many Tea Party strings into a single strong rope, it is likely that the whole thing will just pass away and be left a footnote in history.

Actually, I’ve written about precisely this problem. I’m especially worried that the tea parties coalesce into a formal third-party movement to challenge the Demcrats and Republicans in the two-party system. That will kill the movement most of all. See my essay, “A Battle Within? Emerging Divisions in the Tea Party Movement.” As I said there:

My hope is that the tea partiers can come to some accomodation with the most conservative leaders of the Republican Party, especially Sarah Palin. Our movement needs to work within the structural constraints of the single-member, winner-take-all system. This does not mean we need to compromise our constitutional principles of limited government and our moral foundations in divine historical exceptionalism. We do need vigorous but more centralized leadership, that’s for sure, because the time is now for a conservative resurgence.

I’ve also suggested that Congresswoman Michele Bachmann stands with Governor Palin as the two most important potential leaders of the movement’s possible merger with the base of the GOP. On that note, folks might take a look at this piece from the Los Angeles Times the other day, “Michele Bachmann is Welcome at Tea Parties“:

The Republican congresswoman from Minnesota has become a rare elected official to be embraced by the vocal small-government activists. And the GOP is taking note ….

In two terms in Congress, Bachmann has often used hyperbole and political theatrics to make headlines. And recently, she has achieved a rare feat: winning the trust of the anti-incumbent, small-government “tea party” activists who distrust most elected officials. And that puts Bachmann in a position of rising influence.

Republicans fear that the tea party conservatives will run their own candidates for office and drain votes from the GOP. In two recent polls, more voters had a high opinion of the tea party movement than of the Republican Party (and in one poll, higher than of the Democratic Party). The movement is blamed for tipping one House race already, a special election in upstate New York last month, to the Democrats.

Now, as the tea party crowd tries to organize and raise money for next year’s Senate and House elections, Republican leaders are taking note of Bachmann’s special rapport with the groups.

A new GOP website aimed at rebutting President Obama’s jobs proposal, which features only a few lawmakers, includes Bachmann along with Republican leaders. And recently, the Republican National Committee put Bachmann on a conference call to discuss healthcare with a host of grass-root groups, including tea party activists.

“There’s no question that congresswoman Bachmann fires up the base,” said LeRoy Coleman, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee. “She’s a powerful and galvanizing voice for this party.”

That is not how all Republicans see Bachmann, 53, who once said that she was “hot for Jesus” and is quick to call Obama’s governing plans “socialism.” Some want to keep her at arm’s length.

When Bachmann declared that she would ignore almost all questions on the census form, calling it an unconstitutional effort to collect personal data, three fellow House Republicans called her stance “illogical, illegal and not in the best interest of our country.”

When former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell last year crossed party lines and endorsed Obama, he cited Bachmann’s suggestion that Obama held “anti-American views,” calling it “nonsense.”

And in a survey this month by National Journal magazine, Republican members of Congress named Bachmann as being among the colleagues they would “most like to mute.”

But her over-the-top comments have also turned Bachmann into a favorite of a conservative movement that believes the GOP has wandered from its traditional values. She is one of just two elected officials scheduled to speak at a national tea party convention in February. (The other represents Tennessee, where the convention will be held.)

“She can be derided by the political establishment and the media for being too abrasive. . . . But those people aren’t trusted by members of the tea party,” said Joe Wierzbicki, a spokesman for the California-based Tea Party Express. “Michele Bachmann is.”

As an ambassador to the activists, Bachmann has tried to tamp down talk among tea party groups that they should form their own political party.

“I think this coalition will fit under a tent that’s literally fashioned out of the parchment of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution,” she said in an interview. “I think that what we’ll do is emphasize the issues of commonality.

“The greater good right now is to defeat the move toward collectivism, as being advocated at a breakneck speed by the Obama administration,” she said.

As a tea party confidant, Bachmann is in scarce company. Activists consider former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin to be a leader, and TV show host Glenn Beck, but few elected officials.

RELATED: “Tea Partiers To Republicans: You Better Call For Full Repeal of Reform, Or Else.” (Via Memeorandum.)

Cross-posted from American Power.

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