Monday, June 20, 2011

How Strong Would Michelle Bachmann's Three-Legged Stool Be?

Speaking to the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Minnesota Representative (Republican) and Presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann did what anyone would expect a Republican to do: she invoked Ronald Reagan.

Bachmann declared that in order to bring Republican leadership to the White House -- something she believes the GOP has in spades, and the Democrats lack -- conservative Americans have to build a three-legged stool.

The first leg, she insisted, must be peace through strength. The second leg must be fiscal conservatism. Bachmann envisions the third leg as social conservatism.

It's no different than what anyone should expect from Bachmann, but it demands that a pivotal question be asked: how strong would this particular three-legged stool be? Could it stand?

Should the three-legged stool become the dominant meme of the Republican primary election, the question will remain how other Republican candidates envision this particuar three-legged stool.

For example, would Ron Paul -- campaigning on the necessity of defence cuts -- envision "peace through strength" as one of his legs? Would Mitt Romney, whose health care reforms in Massachusetts so closely resemble Obamacare, be so eager to make a strong commitment to fiscal conservatism?

Yet the leg that could critically weaken the Republican three-legged chair is neither of these. It's likely that of social conservatism.

Social conservatives will quickly object to this idea. But the simple fact of the matter is that some of the episodes of American history remembered most fondly by Americans -- the civil rights movement, the end of slavery -- were (at least at the time) socially progressive events that are remembered as transforming the US for the better.

Social progressivism can run amok. The US federal government's funding of groups such as ACORN and Planned Parenthood are in need of thorough review if not outright abolition. The Democrat position on illegal immigration is simply too nebulous to allow for the emergence of sound policy.

Republican social progressivism wouldn't resemble Democrat social progressivism in many regards. It wouldn't outright pander to special interests, but would embrace conservative values of freedom and equal rights for all citizens. It should resemble the vision and thirst for justice possessed by Abraham Lincoln -- himself the founder of the Republican Party.

Peace through strength, fiscal conservatism and conservative-minded social progressivism is the three-legged stool that could hold the Republican Party solidly enough to climb back into the White House.

Michelle Bachmann may not be the candidate prepared to build it.

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