Michele Bachmann is a Joan of Arc for the tea party age. It is not to be expected, however, that she will lead the U.S. out of the crisis.
No president of the past century is invoked by the Republicans as often as Ronald Reagan. However, in the Iowa polls, where the search for a candidate for the White House traditionally gathers speed, this U.S. icon would have had no chance.
Reagan was much too pragmatic in social policy, in dealing with the USSR and, above all, in allowing numerous tax increases following a gigantic tax decrease.
In Iowa, on the other hand, with Michele Bachmann, a politician became a leader by placing ideology in place of politics and promising to never, under any circumstances, vote in favor of tax increases.
The capability for flexibility has given way to the new Republican interpretation of U.S. exceptionalism. Since Alexis de Toqueville, Americans have believed in their global role as an exception, which inconclusively must demonstrate their superiority.
In the Republican Party, which has veered to the right, this exceptionalism is understood as God-given, while it is comprehended by the Democrats as the result of geographic and historical contingencies.
If God intends better for the Americans than other peoples, one must prevent politics from coming between God and man — that is the idea behind the neo-religious self-image of Bachmann Republicans and their exorcism of “big government.” Other conservative candidates like Texan Governor Rick Perry likewise pay homage to this sacramental exceptionalism.
Nevertheless, at least from the perspective of every other country, the belief in privilege from the powers of heaven is not only somewhat blasphemous but also self-incapacitating. Less politics will not help the Americans out of their crisis; better politics are the answer. This is not to be expected from Michele Bachmann, the Joan of Arc of the tea party age.