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August 19, 2011

As promised, today’s rant is cross-posted on The Rude Pundit‘s blog.

This blog post is rated R for rude. Contains language some may find objectionable. You’ve been warned.

Be afraid. Be goddamned fucking afraid.

I was very flattered when the Rude One invited me to be a guest blogger in his absence—me, who’s not even a “real” blogger and, when she does blog, it’s about her travels in Southeast Asia, not politics in the U.S. (I usually confine my political rants to Facebook.) So flattered, in fact, that I had to accept. And by Saturday, boy, was I glad I did, as I felt a major Michele Bachmann rant coming on. So apologies, Rude, for not writing about my glamorous life working in New York City’s nonprofit sector, and thanks for the opportunity. Here goes.

Just when we’d finally stopped tearing our hair out over the fact that Sarah Palin could actually be a presidential candidate, into her Ferragamos (though apparently not without suffering for it) steps Michele Bachmann. Not just, as less than 5,000 Iowans have now ensured, a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination, but a leading contender.

I usually think of myself as a cynic. A cynic who believes that approximately half the American populace is insane. And yet . . . and yet . . . every once in a while they still manage to surprise me. They did it in 2004 (though that was not so much a surprise as a heartwrenchingly depressing dose of reality). They did it in 2008 when Sarah Palin was not immediately laughed off as the most ridiculous vice presidential candidate in history. And now, yet again, I realize I’ve underestimated the stupidity of the American populace. Because as much as I chided friends on Facebook for being “amazed” that Bachmann won in Iowa and “in disbelief” that she wants to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (I mean, come on. This would be the mildest of the anti-gay legislation she’d put on the table, I assure you.), wasn’t there something inside me that was, still, in 2011, utterly incredulous that this was actually happening? That part of my gut whose immediate reaction was “Really? Really? Has it really come to this?”

Bachmann’s ascension and candidacy are terrifying for a multitude of reasons, some of which are outlined in this week’s New Yorker profile by Ryan Lizza. I encourage you to read every last cringe-inducing word about her “education” (read “religious indoctrination”) at the hands of some of the country’s most radical—and slavery-condoning—“theologians.” You know, the kind who write things like “When people curse their parents, it is clearly a capital crime (Exodus 21:17). The son or daughter is under the lawful jurisdiction of the family. The integrity of the family must be maintained by the threat of death.” Because, of course, we’re pro-life. The kind of people who, like Bachmann, get their law degrees at Oral Roberts University, whose founding twin goals were “to equip our students with the ability to bring God’s healing power to reconcile individuals and to restore community wholeness” and “to restore law to its historic roots in the Bible.” If you want, you can delve even deeper into the nitty gritty fanaticity (yes, I just coined that) of the aptly-named Dominionists by reading the words of the son of one of said theologians himself.

But I digress. What’s got me particularly riled today is actually the effect of Bachmann’s candidacy on women and our future as one-half of this country.

You see, good feminist that I am, I judge women exactly the same as I judge men. Hillary, Sarah, Michele—you don’t score extra points with me just because you’ve got a vagina. It’s infinitely more significant to me that you are a (choose one) lying manipulative hack / raging idiot / certifiably lunatic religious fanatic. So when I first heard, back in May, that New Jersey high school sophomore Amy Myers had challenged Michele Bachmann to a “Public Forum Debate and/or Fact Test on The Constitution of the United States, United States History and United States Civics,” I thought “Good for her! This woman’s knowledge and interpretation of American history are just embarrassing. She totally needs to be taken down. And by a teenager. Go, girl!”

What had not yet occurred to me, however, was the impact the kinds of things Bachmann was saying could have, and was already having, on young people—specifically on their views of women leaders.

In her letter to Bachmann, Myers wrote: “As one of a handful of women in Congress, you hold a distinct privilege and responsibility to better represent your gender nationally. The statements you make help to serve an injustice to not only the position of Congresswoman, but women everywhere. Though politically expedient, incorrect comments cast a shadow on your person and by unfortunate proxy, both your supporters and detractors alike often generalize this shadow to women as a whole.”

Now, that is one eloquent teenager. Who is, unfortunately, dead on. It hit me hardest when, in a subsequent interview, Myers characterized Bachmann’s frequent misstatements as an embarrassment to all women with political ambitions, making it harder for them to be taken seriously in politics. “It took until the 19th amendment for women to be able to vote, and now it seems like the most famous women in politics are kind of jokes,” she is quoted as saying.

“It seems like at school there’s always a separation between what people think men can do and what women can do,” Myers said. “If a girl says she wants to go into politics, people say ‘Oh yeah, like Michele Bachmann?’”

When I read that, it just about broke my heart.

Really? Really? Has it really come to this?

Is this really where we are at now in this country? Have we come this far to have our hard-won accomplishments (meager though they often may seem) nullified by fucktards just because those fucktards are women? Just because there are enough other fucktards around to vote them into public office?

And all this is without even mentioning her frightening stance on the truly critical issues affecting women’s rights in this country—which is of course dictated by her religious beliefs. Who was made from whose rib? Who was given dominion over the earth and all the other living creatures on it? You got it, ladies.

I’m not sure how much worse it has to get before the sane people in this country realize we’re in fucking serious trouble and whatever you think you’re doing to fight against it, well, it ain’t bloody good enough, now, is it?

I don’t have an answer to this, and I consider myself even more jaded than the Rude One, whose response, when I asked him if he’d recommend reading Winner Take All Politics, was: “At this point, I don’t know if I can read more depressing shit topped with a few encouraging words about organizing.”

So, yeah. I’m not going to do that. I find it hard to believe it would be possible to organize our way out of the mess this country is in. A lot of us had hope in 2008. (And I say hope, not crazy-ass expectations that Obama was the second coming and was going to fix all the fucked-up shit and everything would be better forever. Please.) Where’s that hope now? Hope has left the building, motherfuckers. And more and more, I’m starting to think we sane folks should just leave the goddamned country and watch the crumbling of this empire from afar instead of continuing to clutch our front-row-seat tickets to the apocalypse in our sweaty little paws.

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