Last month, MOMocrats entered into a competition at the Circle of Moms community to find the 25 most popular political blogs written by mothers. Thanks to your votes, we made it into the Top 10 -- along with some of our other favorites. Plus, through the Circle of Moms list, we've been introduced to several new progressive voices, like Shannon Drury of the Radical Housewife (#3), who kindly offered us this account of an up close and personal encounter with now-official Presidential candidate, Rep. Michele Bachmann:
As a longtime activist in the service of feminist and other social justice causes, I have spent more than my fair share of time in the Minnesota State Capitol. And because I believe that politics is an all-ages activity, I like to take my two kids.
This was easier when they were small, as Elliott and Miriam were in the capitol session of 2006. I dragged them and a stroller full of one-year-old Miriam’s junk to a hearing that involved regulating abortion procedures in our state so stringently that the “choice” in “pro-choice” would be meaningless for all but wealthy urbanites, the types who had access to everything anyway. My sister and her four-year-old son joined us. Great pals as well as cousins, Elliott and Aidan liked any opportunity to hold signs and chant as loud as they could, proving my oft-held theory that there are no finer activists than energetic little boys. Yet even these two grew tired of flapping “PRO-CHOICE PRO-FAMILY” signs, taking their first opportunity to sneak away from their mothers in search of greater kicks.
“STOP THAT,” came the inevitable bark of an irritated stranger.
A slender, finely-coiffed brunette had her gaze fixed on the boys, who were zipping in between a marble alcove and a copper bust of some long-dead former legislator. My cheeks reddened as I plopped Miriam in my sister’s arms, mentally preparing for a heartfelt apology and a promise that the children in my care would stop behaving like overcaffeinated puppies. Until I got a closer look at the woman’s face, that is.
I realized that my children were being admonished by Michele Bachmann, a state representative from Stillwater.
Rarely am I able to identify Minnesota legislators outside my home of Minneapolis, but Bachmann was making quite a name for herself in state politics, and not always for the reasons that she hoped. I wouldn’t have recognized her if she hadn’t been exposed for hiding in the bushes outside a LGBT rights rally outside the capitol building the session before. Why was she hiding there? Bachmann never quite explained this herself, but the universally held opinion was that she couldn’t resist a peek at the folks she’d spent her tenure in the Minnesota legislature demonizing. That very day, in fact, I’d passed by a gentleman holding a homemade sign with the words “HATEMONGER” scribbled across her headshot.
A mother herself, she probably anticipated that I’d welcome the assist in taming my naughty little boys. Perhaps she agreed with the principle that it takes a village to raise a child.
Or did she? At the time, Bachmann has already declared herself a candidate for a congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Mark Kennedy in his quixotic run for U.S. Senate against the wildly popular county attorney Amy Klobuchar. Though she ran a somewhat moderate campaign (disappointing for a bleeding heart radical like me), Klobuchar was a steadfast supporter of women’s rights, including the right to reproductive health care and abortion. Bachmann not only opposed abortion rights, she voted against measures that would reduce the need for abortion, including fully funding family planning services and science-based sex education for Minnesota teens. Her votes favored “traditional” values, the kind that rejected public schools, anti-discrimination law, and economic support for vulnerable citizens—though she certainly wasn’t traditional enough to stay home and be her husband’s helpmeet. In short, her moral universe was built on haranguing, not supporting, kids and their families.
My usual embarrassment evaporated and was replaced by indignation.
I narrowed my eyes. I clasped Aidan and Elliott’s hands in my own and hissed, loud enough for Bachmann and the aide beside her to hear: “don’t worry, guys—you don’t have to listen to HER. That lady’s mean!” Delighted, the boys bounced away, with me trailing behind.
Fast forward five years, and Michele Bachmann, once considered a strictly local oddity (like Paul Bunyan, Jesse Ventura and the dairy princesses carved in butter at our State Fair) is now a major political player. I can neither explain nor understand her appeal. I do know, however, how to wipe the smile off her admittedly lovely face.
As the boys and I returned to the action near the Senate chambers and took up our signs once more, we noticed several wide-eyed young women poking one another, gesturing to something just beyond our shoulders. I turned and saw Bachmann and her aide mounting the steps to the chamber, the former crinkling her nose with disgust in a gesture that every small boy understands to mean one thing: who farted? The young women watching giggled and whispered to one another.
“Did you see that?” I overheard them snickering. “She was looking at the kids! She was grossed out by the pro-choice kids!”
MOMocrats! Channel your rambunctious little ones’ energy for good, not evil. I hereby declare a nationwide action to Gross Out Michele Bachmann. Bring your pro-choice children to events in Iowa, New Hampshire and other battleground states! Allow them to run amok, to hold signs, to chant, to speak out against political philosophies that prioritize children last. If we gather enough of our nation’s bouncy, hyperactive, statue-toppling kids together, we might irritate this mom so far out of her mind she abandons her run for President altogether.
After all, metal busts of old dead guys might be monetarily valuable, but America’s young kids are priceless, and they deserve better.