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Our April 6 cover date is Michele Bachmann’s 57th birthday. She is in her fourth term as a Republican member of the House of Representatives, representing a district adjacent to Minneapolis and St. Paul. A founder of the House Tea Party caucus, she won Iowa’s straw poll in August 2011 but left the presidential race after finishing sixth in the January 2012 Iowa caucuses.
On Worldmag.com we’re profiling couples with marriages of 35 years or more, so you and your husband have just made the cut. What’s been the hardest thing in your 35 years? We have probably erred more on the side of working than we have on the side of playing, as a necessity. ... I came from a single mom, below-poverty background. My husband also had to work his way through college. We didn’t have anything, and when we got married, my husband made $500 a month. We decided we would only live on one income. It is the best decision we ever made because we learned it’s all about economizing, economizing, economizing. We also made a decision that when the children came, one of us would stay home. It hasn’t always been me. We have tag-teamed as parents, but we’ve tried to make sure one of us was home with the children. Our kids were our priority.
Feminists would applaud that tag-teaming. What good things has feminism wrought? The idea that women are valuable and should be listened to is very important, but it wasn’t feminism that did that: It was Jesus Christ. He did more to lift up the value and stature of women because it’s very clear in the Bible that, before God, men and women are equal in His sight. Proverbs 31 shows how multifaceted women are. In my case I’m a tax attorney but also a stateswoman. My husband and I started our company together. We hire, we fire, we build our company, but I also started a movement in Minnesota for academic excellence, and nationally to return our country to constitutional principles.
On what issues were you able to work together with either feminists or people on the liberal side? In our state we had the longest unfinished bridge project in the history of the United States. No bridge ever took longer to be built. I was able to bring together our Democrat senators. One is Al Franken, a very liberal senator—if you can get Al Franken and Michele Bachmann to agree on a project, you’re doing something. ... I am trying to work with some of my Democrat colleagues on the idea of cures. Scientists believe we can have the cure for Alzheimer’s within 10 years. I have a heart for curing Parkinson’s disease and juvenile diabetes. Rather than us wasting a lot of the money—we have now in our National Institutes of Health a huge bureaucracy—I would like us to repurpose that money in labs and focus on cures.
Where is there an overlap between political conservatism and biblical Christianity in your own experience, and where has there been some tension? When have you as a Christian felt you had to go against what conservatives were advocating? I can’t think of an example because my guide has been an understanding of Scripture. I came to the Lord when I was 16. It was like The Wizard of Oz when the movie starts out black and white and then all of a sudden it’s Technicolor. When I came to the Lord it was like being in Technicolor because I felt for the first time in my life I understood truth. I understood purpose. I understood meaning. ... Voting has not been tough for me for the most part because there are guideposts that lead you on what will bring about the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest amount of people.
A lot of students—not here at Patrick Henry but certainly at the University of Texas—associate Christianity with conservative politics and don’t want any part of that. How do you deal with the complaint that Christianity has become politicized? It’s getting far more politicized on the left today than it is on the right. In the last 20 years there has been a marked decline in Christian conservative involvement in the public square, and a rise of leftists who claim the cover of evangelicalism.
When evangelicals are politically liberal, does that suggest to you that they have an inadequate understanding of the Bible? Why do they come at it in a very different way than you come at it? It’s premises. Their fundamental belief will drive other decisions. I encourage students to dwell on the Word of God: Make it your aim to gain wisdom and to gain understanding. There is no better prayer than to every day of your life cry out to a holy God and ask Him to give you understanding. ... The precepts are there in the Word of God, and they are knowable. He is knowable. He is a God of the infinite, and yet He cares about the hairs on our head. ... We have to be humble before the Lord and listen with both ears. We have two ears and one mouth.
When you’re in presidential campaign debates and are supposed to respond instantaneously to all kinds of questions, how do you listen? How do you show Christian humility where the idea is to project yourself with a certain amount of arrogance? It’s not necessarily projecting yourself with arrogance, but projecting your view with confidence, and there is nothing wrong with being confident. David was highly confident when he stood before Saul. Peter became confident when he was filled with the Holy Spirit. ... I ran for president because I saw the devastation that would occur to our country if Obamacare remained intact. For those students here: Your futures are being stolen from you quite literally. You could have fully 75 percent of what you make taken away from you.
How did your presidential campaign experience change you? If you’re conservative you can never get anything wrong, and I was very proud of the fact that I didn’t get anything wrong during the course of 15 presidential debates. That forces a person to be better. You have to be a virtual Wikipedia. ... It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I would give 10 speeches a day, probably do four fundraisers. I could be up at 4 a.m. and wouldn’t go to bed until after midnight. I had to raise millions of dollars, I’d have to answer questions, and I was a girl so I had to look good at the same time. It is one of the best experiences I’ve had because it forced me to be better.
With all the thousands of questions thrown at you, is there one you wish you had answered differently? I wish I had gotten John Wayne’s birthplace right and Elvis Presley’s birthday right. Those are the two things I got dinged for more than anything.
Only those two? Yeah, because I was right about all the others (laughter).
Watch Marvin Olasky's complete interview with Michele Bachmann: