Michele Bachmann did not come by her conservative beliefs by accident. Her personal experiences have made her the conservative that she is.
Michele Bachmann the Democrat?
Michele Amble came from a Democratic family, not a Republican. The Ambles were of Scandinavian stock, and had always been of modest means. When she was about twelve, her family moved to Anoka, MN, where her father worked at Honeywell. Then disaster struck. Her parents divorced, and Mrs. Amble had to support the four children on her wages as a bank teller.
Michele’s mother told her to concentrate on her education, and she did. Then when Michele was 16 she made another decision:
I believe God is real. I believe he’s real, I believe he’s true, I believe that there is a heaven, and that’s where I want to go.
A year later, she graduated from high school, and then had the first of two experiences that shaped her outlook.
Michele Bachmann in Israel
Most high school graduates, if they go away for the summer, might go to a summer camp, or on a Caribbean vacation. Most Americans (at least, most American Gentiles) who go to Israel, stay for ten days, snap a few pictures, and then leave, as your editor did earlier this year. The future Michele Bachmann went to Israel and stayed a whole summer—on a kibbutz.
Kibbutz Be’eri stands not far from Beersheba (literally, House of Seven), where Abraham made a treaty with earlier inhabitants of the Gaza country. (Genesis 21:22-34.) In 1974, Michele Amble went there to work, pulling weeds out of a cotton field. (And how remarkable that a collective farm in the Western Negev had any weeds to pull!) Israel was a much different place then, barely eight months after the Yom Kippur War. Active-duty Tzahal guarded David Ben-Gurion Airport—with guns drawn. Israeli Customs was several officers sitting at card tables outdoors. Chickens fluttered everywhere, recalling a time when chickens were worth more than their weight in gold. And on Kibbutz Be’eri, armed soldiers searched for land mines in the very fields where Michele and the others worked.
Israel has changed since then, as your editor can attest. And Michele Bachmann knows it. She has been back to Israel three times since her first election to Congress in 2006. The Tzahal are still at Ben-Gurion—discharged veterans, dressed as civilians, clearing passengers for flights out on Israel’s national-flag carrier, El Al (literally, “Up, up, and away!”). But Israel is no longer the “grubby” place that young Michele Amble found.
If you consider what it was like in 1948, and literally watch flowers bloom in a desert over time—I don’t know if any nation has paralleled the rise of Israel since 1948.
Not everything is grand, of course. Four years ago, Palestinians fired rockets into the very kibbutz where Michele worked, along with several others, just to burn the crops.
Michele Bachmann becomes a Republican
Michele Amber came back to Minnesota. She went first to a local community college near Anoka, then went off to Alaska for more summer jobs. There someone advised her to apply to Winona State University, which she did. There she met her future husband, Marcus Bachmann. The two worked on Jimmy Carter’s campaign in 1976, and then traveled to Washington in a van pool for Carter’s inauguration.
Then disillusionment set in. As Michele Bachmann told The Weekly Standard, everything went downhill from the inauguration. Marcus Bachmann and Michele Amble found Carter’s economic, foreign, and domestic policies disastrous. But the defining moment for Michele came on the train from Minneapolis to Winona. She read a copy of Gore Vidal’s Burr, and found Vidal’s portrayals of the Founding Fathers insultingly libelous.
And at that moment, I became a Republican. I was done.
Michele Bachmann today
Marcus and Michele Bachmann married in 1978. They have never looked back on their decision. Twenty years later, Michele Bachmann got her first taste of activism: she fought to remove a curriculum that provided no education to speak of, but only indoctrination. The fight continued to April 2000, where she impressed enough delegates at the Republican State convention to win the nomination for a State Senate seat. The outraged incumbent tried to take his nomination back in the primary, but lost. And so her career in politics began.
She won her seat in Congress in 2006, one of a handful of Republican freshmen. She nearly lost the seat in 2008, after telling Hardball’s Chris Matthews, to his face, that Obama held anti-American views. (Chris Matthews has hated her guts ever since.) When the Tea Party movement began, Michele Bachmann became one of its earliest champions among elected officials. She won her seat handily in 2010.
A mixed reception
Jewish people have a mixed opinion of Michele Bachmann. She openly claims a Jewish heritage—intellectual only, to be sure, but no less real to her for that. The basis of her claim is the Jewish roots of Christianity.
Michele Bachmann gave another reason for her support of Israel to the Republican Jewish Coalition in February of 2010:
I am convinced in my heart and in my mind that if the United States fails to stand with Israel, that is the end of the United States . . . [W]e have to show that we are inextricably entwined, that as a nation we have been blessed because of our relationship with Israel, and if we reject Israel, then there is a curse that comes into play. And my husband and I are both Christians, and we believe very strongly the verse from Genesis [Genesis 12:3], we believe very strongly that nations also receive blessings as they bless Israel. It is a strong and beautiful principle.
The leftish Israeli daily Ha’Aretz (The Land) is clearly afraid of her. Why else would they write a paragraph like this:
She managed to get the Jewish community angry at her after she compared the mushrooming national debt and the loss of economic freedom to the loss of human life in the Holocaust. The National Jewish Democratic Council quickly condemned her, also criticizing her attempt to make Israel a point of contention between the Democrats and the Republicans.
Of course, Ha’Aretz conveniently forgets that a Republican Jewish Coalition exists. But Ha’Aretz concludes with this:
Her former chief of staff Ron Carey has said she is “decidedly” not ready for the presidency. But that’s what they said about Obama.
That says it all.
Featured image: Michele Bachmann appearing on CNN. Photo courtesy Bachmann for President.
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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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