Normally, a Minnesota summer in a nonelection year would be about as exciting, politically speaking, as, say, watching your grandmother organize her coupons.
This year, however, an 18-month-long battle over a constitutional marriage amendment is already well under way. Record-setting yet mildly hilarious and totally tragic is that not one but two highly conservative Minnesota Republicans are running for their party’s presidential nomination. Plus, the prospect of a totally self-inflicted government shutdown looms just around the corner.
So, the next few weeks of summer in Minnesota are shaping up to be hotter than a drag queen at a Mormon clambake. Yes, that hot. Here I thought I was going to have a hard time finding locally relevant political topics to yammer on about over the next few issues.
The epic miniseries that is the statewide constitutional-marriage-amendment debate (can we please find a snappy acronym for this thing already?) has begun in earnest, and the culture warriors have already started their hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing.
In early June, the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board decided to take another look at whether corporations should be able to make contributions to ballot campaigns without revealing their donors.
Basically, groups like the National Organization for Marriage and the Minnesota Family Council prefer the status quo. They don’t want their donors to be made public. I’d say that pretty much tells you which side of history they think they’re on. In all fairness, however, their stated opposition to disclosure is a bit more nuanced: fear.
In state after state where this issue has come up, these organizations and others like them have argued that personal safety would be at risk and free speech frozen if their supporters were forced to account for their financial contributions. It’s a good thing these guys weren’t around in 1776, or we might never have known who signed the Declaration of Independence.
It’s absolutely ludicrous to suggest that organizations shouldn’t be transparent about their financial backers. This is America. If you have to hide in the shadows to stand up for what you believe in, then perhaps you either need to reevaluate your beliefs, or, more plainly, grow a pair.
In other news, Minnesota’s answer to Anita Bryant, Michele “Crazy Eyes” Bachmann, announced she’s running for President. As someone who has been following her since her days of peeping on gay-rights rallies from behind the bushes, and fending off bathroom-bound lesbian kidnappers, I have to admit I’m beyond a little shocked that she has made it this far. I’m excited. No, seriously. Hear me out.
While it would be far easier to decry the evils of Bachmann, and construct umpteen parallels between her rise to power and that of any number of history’s political scoundrels and dastardly despots, I don’t see any reason to be unnecessarily alarmist.
That’s because, quite frankly, Bachmann is a revolutionary without a revolution. She’s a Hitler without a Germany of the 1930s, or a Mao without a chaotic China of the 1940s. She’s like a burning ember that lands on a pile of wet newspapers—all spark, no sizzle.
Unless, our economy implodes in the next year-and-a-half, this is Bachmann’s last greatest moment in American politics. It doesn’t get any better for her, and it doesn’t get any worse for us. Actually, it gets much better for us. By “us,” I mean those who enjoy watching a trainwreck.
Think about it: 17 months for the American media spotlight to shine its big, fat, ridiculous, 24/7 tabloid laser beam on the likes of Michele “You Da Man” Bachmann. Comedians, bloggers, and a whole host of commentators, including yours truly, could not ask for a better wellspring of WTF.
As for the impending government shutdown, let’s just say there’s nothing to say. Politicians playing politics is no surprise, but Minnesotans deserve better—especially the least among us who stand to suffer the most as a result of the gridlock.
Think of what we could accomplish if we didn’t have to waste our time fighting same-sex marriage bans or progress-sucking blowhards like Bachmann. The mind reels. In the meantime, I’ll keep writing, and I hope you’ll keep reading.