Michele Bachmann and The Homophobia Vote
Michele Bachmann, founder of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus and candidate for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination, stepped out from political obscurity this week when a gay activist working for the homosexual advocacy group, Truth Will Out, attempted to shine a spotlight on the checkered, largely unknown, past of Minnesota’s 6th district Representative.
Bachmann entered the race as something of a wildcard. As little more than a flash-in-the-pan manifestation of the short-lived popularity of the Tea Party, her candidacy wasn’t expected to challenge the emerging Republican heavyweights. She seemed destined to amount to nothing more than a ruffling of feathers within the GOP’s ranks and a placation of the shadowy corner of the Republicanism.
John Becker, the gay ‘guinea pig’ who subjected himself to lectured homophobia and bigotry under the guise of ‘medical advice’, did so in the hope of shaming Bachmann, obliterating her candidacy and highlighting the intolerance at the centre of the Tea Party’s MO.
However, whilst the fallout from the Truth Will Out’s video has been huge and homosexuals in America are predictably reeling from the revelation that Medicare has funded reparative treatment, it has actually had the bizarre effect of solidifying Michele Bachmann as the candidate of the Republican base.
Becker, who leaked the video to ABC News (above), attended the Bachmann and Associates Clinic, co-owned by Michelle and her husband Marcus, early last week. And, during a routine consultation offered to all walk-in ‘patients’, his counselor sat him down, offered him a drink and proceeded to inform him that the centre can ‘cure’ homosexuality, leaving him ‘totally free’ of his ‘homosexual urges’ – that he could, essentially, pray away the gay.
Like violence against woman and child abuse, the desire or belief that one can ‘cure’ homosexuality is so deplorable it almost needn’t be rebuked. Disgust is just assumed. However, amongst those who find the urge to comment too appealing in any situation, most have confirmed the stupidity of Bachmann’s politics. Fellow Republican Primary candidate Fred Krueger said:
“She’s a liar and now that she’s been busted, she’s trying to divert attention away from her lies. She is just another hypocrite and bigot.”
But for every politician and pundit who shuns Bachmann’s front for religious proselytising, and every Republican who looks to distance themselves, there is a handful of powerful and unacknowledged voters that rejoice in it. And this is the problem with Becker’s video: it confirms what everyone already thinks, but in so doing it legitimises a view that has long been dismissed as illegitimate.
Those who found this revelation shocking and appalling are hardly struggling for reasons to shocked and appalled by Bachmann. She and her husband have a long history of anti-gay, anti-liberal commentary that provides more than enough quotable evidence to place them in the extremities of the right wing. Marcus, for example, is quoted in the gay watchdog PinkNews as calling all homosexuals ‘barbarians’.
It is therefore unlikely that his wife was making much headway into the gay vote anyway, even before the true extent of their bigotries was revealed in all its Handycam hideousness. However, she was making headway into another group of voters, a group that will likely not be turned off by a pin-up politician aggressively defending what they consider ‘American values.’
Becker’s video reminded most of America that the Tea Party is insane, and dangerously so, but it also reminded swathes of anti-gay Republican voters in Iowa and New Hampshire that there was someone who shared their insanity. She has been hung, drawn and quartered in the American mainstream. She has been crucified on every liberal news station in the country and around the world. But for a small and dedicated group of GOP’s she died a martyr – and they will shift heaven and earth to see her candidacy resurrected. As the Democratic pollster Fred Yang conceded earlier this week: “She’s clearly got a constituency — the aware and the hard-core — which is a positive sign for a primary.”
To add insult to the gay communities’ injury, Bachmann emerged as the frontrunner for Iowa’s Presidential nomination on the same day the video was released. The Voter/Consumer Research poll showed she had a 4% lead over Mitt Romney. And worse, Magellan Strategies’ more recent poll gives Bachmann a massive 13-point lead over the opposition.
However, even the more conservative estimates of her lead hide a worrying realisation. The overall number, the one that get reported at the top of the WaPo story, are the collated opinion of every possible voter in the state, which is interesting but it doesn’t win election. Switch focus to likely voters, the ones who do win elections, and a very different picture starts to emerge in Iowa. Among those people the Voter/Consumer Research poll describes as the ‘most attentive’ Bachmann boasts a much more commanding 14-point lead over the rest of the field.
For John Becker, gay rights and every other Republican on the ballot that’s a massive problem, because in Iowa’s caucus system the nomination is decided by the most attentive voters. They are the few who will always brave the icy February winds to ensure their weather and campaign battered foe retire after the weariest of stump speeches. They are the group that will donate to the campaign with the same religious fervour that gave Obama the Presidency in 2008 (and will hopefully do it again). And they are the group that will rally behind a candidate lambasted by the ‘liberal media’ for protecting ‘American Christianity.’
This is Bachmann’s base; a base that knew she was ultra-conservative, ultra-Christian and had a less than favourable outlook on homosexuality, and it will coagulate around her as her candidacy is bloodied from all directions. For now, all that has changed is that now she can add ‘courageous defender of conservative values’ to her résumé. Oh, and she’s probably banned from “The Garden”, Iowa’s only gay nightclub.
Follow the author on Twitter @OliDugganTagged in: 2012, election, gay rights, homophobia, Homosexual, Iowa, Marcus Bachmann, Michele Bachmann, Primaries, Republican
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