Salon’s Alex Pareene, in response to Rep. Michele Bachmann’s latest fundraising appeal to her supporters, declares bewilderingly, “I am just looking for some sort of silver lining to the continued, demoralizing political prominence of a person who is very obviously deranged.”
Of course, taking into consideration the congresswoman’s wildly misinformed statements and crass invective against “big government,” there’s no mistaking her political profile for the silhouette of a figure tilting against windmills.
No matter, that filament of a silver lining Pareene pleads for is two-fold. First, her appeal is to the small-donor demographic which wields the most votes (57% of the contributors who gave to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign spent $1000 or less; another 33% spent less than $200). The broad participation of voters from middle- and working class instilled a sense of having influenced the election of a junior U.S. senator who was once thought of as an unelectable candidate with a foreign sounding name.
The other reason to be optimistic involves the electoral paradigm: who gets to decide who runs for president? Beyond the scope of presidential exploratory committees and metric-intense focus groups, how does your average voter get a word in about who should run?
At the same instant we risk enabling a character like Rep. Bachmann to work her Tea Party “magic” on a national scale, perhaps one may consider there is an electoral awakening underway, particularly of the great many voters who thought the electoral process throughout our nation’s history had been decided by a one-person one-vote ratio. Not so, and it is increasingly difficult to conceal how elite moneyed interests (gratuitous name check: the Koch Brothers) wield the kind of influence that snuffs out what any small “d” democrat considers as “the consent of the governed.” (The consensus support for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan comes to mind.)
Given that Minnesota’s 6th District has seen (or seemed un-) fit to send Rep. Bachmann back to Capitol Hill twice since first being elected in 2006, who could hope that those mesmerized by her stone-cold blue stare would rouse to a greater awareness of what is at stake for a war-weary nation hobbling from financial wreckage?