July 1 2011
Sabrina Schaeffer in the National Review says women in politics have come a long way since the early days of the Republic, and notes that "today some of our most electric politicians are women - Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Nancy Pelosi."
In the old days, she says, "women helped sustain the new republic through their roles as wives and mothers, securing a new social order in which liberty and the public good were the objectives, by ensuring that their husbands adhered to and their children were raised with republican principles."
But today, "instead, we see a new kind of republican motherhood emerging. And in the year of the big-R Republican woman, Michele Bachmann just might be its matriarch."
Continues the story:
The goals of modern republican mothers are broadly similar to those of the original ones: to foster a relationship between citizen and state in which the citizen is sovereign over government. But whereas the republican mother of our Founding era participated in politics only indirectly, the new republican mother plays a decidedly active role in our public life. Gender has been not overcome, but integrated.
Bachmann joined Congress only in 2007, but she quickly gained national recognition first as a firebrand and then as a darling of the Tea Party movement. Her decision to strike a path outside the party apparatus - giving her own response to President Obama's State of the Union address, for instance - has prompted criticism. But she managed to leverage her standing with the Tea Party into an official leadership position by establishing the Tea Party Caucus in the House. And an unsuccessful run for chair of the House Republican Conference helped sharpen her name recognition and made clear her national aspirations.
Compared to other GOP candidates such as Governors Romney and Pawlenty, Bachmann does not have a substantial political résumé. And yet her experience, bolstered by her educational accomplishments, defines her departure from her 18th-century female forebears. Bachmann holds a J.D. from Oral Roberts University and an LL.M. in tax law from William & Mary School of Law, and she practiced law for five years for the IRS before choosing to be a full-time mother.
And Schaeffer concludes:
Bachmann still needs to grapple with a number of potential liabilities, from startling statements - most recently, confusing the towns in Iowa where John Wayne and John Wayne Gacy had lived - to a social conservatism that worries voters of a libertarian stripe.
But it is clear that the traditionalism infused with classical liberalism that is peculiar to America has transcended in deep and important ways our modern gender wars. We are sure to see much more of the new republican mother in the years to come.