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January 1 2012

Bachmann = Thatcher? Not quite . . .

Anna Rittgers

In the final days before the Iowa Caucuses, Rep. Michele Bachmann’s campaign is trying to portray her as Minnesota’s version of The Iron Lady.

Yes, Bachmann is an attorney, and Thatcher a barrister.   Both are (1) female politicians (2) staunch conservatives, and (3) mothers.  Beyond that, the comparison is a bit strained.

By the time Margaret Thatcher became head of the Conservative Party in 1975, she had been in British government for 16 years, holding many positions in the Shadow Cabinet (which are comprised of senior members of the opposition party).  She served as Education Secretary from 1970-74, and she defeated two men in her successful campaign for Conservative Party leader in 1975.  She became Prime Minister when Conservatives gained a majority of seats in the House of Commons in 1979

In contrast, Michele Bachmann was first elected to Congress in 2007, after serving as a Minnesota state senator for 6 years. She has never held any Republican leadership positions of any consequence. 

I understand that Rep. Bachmann poll numbers have been on the decline, and as a result, her campaign is doing whatever it takes in these last few hours before the Iowa Caucus to convince voters that she would be a capable president.  It strikes me as a pathetic and desperate attempt to bolster her own gravitas by piggy-backing on the accomplishments of Baroness Thatcher. I seriously doubt that Bachmann’s attempt to paint herself as Thatcher 2.0 will make those caucus voters throw their support behind her.

I write this post not to attack Michele Bachmann but to assail a practice that I find particularly galling.  I cannot stand it when politicians invoke well-loved historical leaders and try to convince voters that they are the modern version of that particular leader.  I think almost every Republican candidate for office (from dogcatcher to president) is guilty of claiming themselves the standard bearer for Ronald Reagan. 

Imitations of the original are just that.  You’ll always pale in comparison to the romanticized version of past leaders.  Show us your personal accomplishments, qualifications, and ideas that make you the best candidate for the job.

Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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