Michelle Bachmann, the new dean of Regent University’s school of government, visited MAGA evangelical Jim Garlow’s “election integrity” prayer meeting this week. You can watch it here. (It was posted on Eric Metaxas’s Rumble page). Bachmann warns the pro-Trump evangelical group of a “convergence” of “three important bills” that she believes will turn the United States into the former Soviet Union.
The bill addresses voter access, election integrity and security, campaign finance, and ethics for the three branches of government. Specifically, the bill expands voter registration (e.g., automatic and same-day registration) and voting access (e.g., vote-by-mail and early voting). It also limits removing voters from voter rolls. The bill requires states to establish independent redistricting commissions to carry out congressional redistricting. Additionally, the bill sets forth provisions related to election security, including sharing intelligence information with state election officials, supporting states in securing their election systems, developing a national strategy to protect U.S. democratic institutions, establishing in the legislative branch the National Commission to Protect United States Democratic Institutions, and other provisions to improve the cybersecurity of election systems. Further, the bill addresses campaign finance, including by expanding the prohibition on campaign spending by foreign nationals, requiring additional disclosure of campaign-related fundraising and spending, requiring additional disclaimers regarding certain political advertising, and establishing an alternative campaign funding system for certain federal offices. The bill addresses ethics in all three branches of government, including by requiring a code of conduct for Supreme Court Justices, prohibiting Members of the House from serving on the board of a for-profit entity, and establishing additional conflict-of-interest and ethics provisions for federal employees and the White House. The bill requires the President, the Vice President, and certain candidates for those offices to disclose 10 years of tax returns.
To summarize, the bill expands voting rights, takes big money out of campaigns, and requires the president and vice president to disclose tax returns.
Here is Michelle Bachmann’s take on H.R. 1:
What does H.R. 1 do? It makes permanent the party that is currently in power. It’s perpetual power for one party going forward…
Let’s stop for a moment. This bill does not make one party permanent. Bachmann is really worried about the Republican Party’s failure to connect with the people who make up country’s changing demographics.
The GOP is in a very strange position right now. It is doubling-down on populism even as it does everything in its power to make it harder for people to vote. Remember, populists by definition want to empower the voices of ordinary people.
I am guessing that most members of the GOP would oppose making it more difficult for white working people–the Trump base–to vote. It is thus hard to see the opposition to H.R. 1 as anything but a race-based strategy to prevent people of color–a key part of the Democratic Party’s base–from voting. The GOP wants populism for white evangelicals and voter suppression for everyone else.
[H.R. 1] makes election fraud the law of the land in America: mail-in-voting, no IDs, no signatures, no chain of custody, drop-off boxes are allowed where they can be tampered with with votes, Internet registration. It insures one party rule.
Let’s stop again. It appears that the only problem Bachmann has with all these reforms is that Democrats will win more elections. She is right. H.R. 1 will lead to more Democratic victories. But instead of complaining about attempts to expand democracy, she should be taking a deep look at her own party and its inability to appeal to a changing America. I am borrowing much of my argument here from Steven Levitsky and Daniel Zablatt’s 2018 book How Democracies Die. These Harvard political scientists argue that if Republicans are going to survive they will need to build a more diverse constituency rather than appealing to white nationalism and nativism.
It insures that one party will win every election [and] there is no chance of competitive elections and it federalizes and micromanages the electionprocess that administered by the states.[H.R..1] would eliminate basic election integrity or rules that states have in place and it would interfere with the rights of the states to define voter eligibility and accuracy of voting rules.That despite the fact that the Constitution of the United States says that the states are the write the rules for elections, not the federal government. So this completely upends current election law and federalizes it and puts it in the hands of one party rule never to be lost again. So it keeps one party in perpetual power. They would make themselves immune to the will of the voter. They would empower themselves to make any laws they’d like, to extract whatever punishments they like from their political opponents and to vote themselves whatever sums of money they would like from the treasury. . .
I am confused by Bachmann’s complaint about the federalization of elections (something that H.R. 1 does not call for). It seems like she wants the states to have power over elections as long as MAGA candidates win those states. Bachmann and the rest of the “election integrity” evangelicals on this prayer call did not seem very happy about the way some states (Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada) handled their elections.
What [H.R.1) does after 400 years under the Mayflower Compact where the gift given to our nation was rule by the consent of the governed, in other words “we the people” get to choose who the people are that we elect to rule over us and what the laws will be that we live under…would effectively be eviscerated if H.R. 1 passes.
So much is wrong with the statement. None of the founders referred to the Mayflower Compact when they articulated the idea that the nation should be ruled by the consent of the governed. The Mayflower Compact had nothing to do with the founding of the United States. The Mayflower Compact governed the colony of Plymouth, a settlement that was gone by 1691. Moreover, if Bachmann is so concerned about “we the people,” one would think she would want to make it easier, not more difficult, for people to vote.
After a discussion of the filibuster (she supports it, at least for the moment), Bachmann then moves on to the Equality Act:
This is devastating. Whereas H.R. 1 gives one party–the Democrat Party–permanent rule forever (fact check: it does not)…the Equality Act is the punishment. If one is the carrot for the Democrats, this is the stick because this gives a stick to the Democrat Party and they can freely punish their political opponents. As many of you on this call know, the number one constituency of Donald Trump winning in 2016 and his historic number of votes in 2020 was the evangelical voter….So what do the Democrats want to do? They want to punish the evangelical voter. With the Equality Act they can advance the LGBTQ agenda…and they can also literally put out of business any organization that stands for biblical absolutes….
I would not call a bill that provides basic civil rights for the LGBTQ community “a punishment.” We must affirm the rights of all Americans. This includes both the LGBTQ population and evangelical Christian institutions that uphold traditional sexual ethics. This is why I support the Fairness for All Act. The people on this prayer call do not support Fairness for All because they do not believe the members of the LGBTQ community deserve basic civil rights. Why? Because they think America is a Christian nation and no Christian nation would offer rights to LGBTQ citizens. (I am guessing a lot of them have never even heard of Fairness for All).
Bachmann keeps going:
. . . In our government, under our Constitution, the first bill of right is the inalienable right, meaning the right or law that God gave to every person simply because we are human, because we are made in his image and likeness. God gave us the right to freedom of speech and religious expression–that’s God’s law. That isn’t a law that man gave or the American government gave, that’s what God gave. But this law takes away God-given rights–the Equality Act. Do you see what I’m saying?
This is a theological and constitutional mess. First, I am assuming that when Bachmann refers to the “first bill of rights” she means the First Amendment. The word “inalienable right” does not appear in the First Amendment. Perhaps she is referring to the Declaration of Independence’s claim that we are “endowed” by our “Creator with certain unalienable rights….” The Constitution does not say that our rights come from God nor does it say that we have rights because we are made in God’s image. The Declaration of Independence says that our “Creator” endowed us with “unalienable rights,” but let’s remember that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, not God. This blurring of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Judeo-Christian belief in Imago Dei is common among Christian nationalists such as Bachmann.
Bachmann is right about one thing here. Jewish and Christian theology teaches that human beings are created in the “image and likeness” of God. But apparently Bachmann does not believe LGBTQ people have such dignity. It seems like she is saying that only heterosexuals are endowed by the Creator with unalienable rights.
She then moves to the COVID-19 relief package. (She calls it the “so-called” relief bill). Bachmann does not make a theological or Christian argument against the relief bill. She just assumes that the evangelicals on this prayer call will oppose this kind of relief spending. She knows her audience well.
Bachmann concludes that only 9% of the bill goes to “COVID relief spending. This is not true. Most of the money in the bill goes to the COVID-19-inspired needs of the American people.
She concludes with a
“history” lesson lesson in fearmongering:
Now here me. In 1917, in Russia, when the Czar was overthrown, they had one election. The Communists came in and took over [and] there was never another election….The same thing happened in Cuba. There was one election [and] there was never election again. In the Palestinian authority [there was] one election, then Hamas came in. There’s never been another election since. In Venezuela–you kind of get my drift. This is where we are at in the United States THIS WEEK….They voted themselves more money than we can even begin to imagine. And they’ve already passed in the house permanent, perpetual power. And they already passed the Equality Act in order to be able to punish their political foes. It’s breathtaking. It is absolutely breathtaking the cementing of power that’s gone on this week.
Bachmann then promotes her “election integrity” conference at Regent University.
She tells the prayer meeting to pray for Minneapolis and Portland because Black Lives Matter is coming to stir violence and destroy these cities. She says nothing about the collective pain and suffering felt by the Black community in these places.
She also has the audacity to pray against “arrogant” Americans (Democrats) who think they are better than God. She does not pray for the arrogant American Christians who claim that they know the will of God.
Finally, Bachmann raises her hands and prays:
Lord you have given us the roadmap to what to do when the foundations are being destroyed. Father, I have never seen a week like this week in American history, when the foundations of this nation are under the greatest attack that they have seen for 400 years from the time of the pilgrim fathers and mothers. This is the week of the greatest attack, but oh God it is you in who we seek our refuge because you are worthy of being our refuge, oh God….We can trust you, oh Lord, to establish your law over the cities, to strengthen our pastors and our churches…Father, we take your seal, and we place your seal over the United States of America.
“The greatest attack” on the “foundation” in American history.
And all God’s election integrity prayer warriors said “Amen.”