Will Michele Bachmann wear the Swiss and American flags on
her lapel now?
Bachmann is a citizen of the world now — after becoming Swiss as well as American on March 29, thanks to her husband’s Swiss heritage. That means, yes, she can run for office in Switzerland if she moves there and meets its residency requirement.
She may have to look at that as a possibility. By embracing a socialist and gay-friendly country, Tea Party favorite Bachmann can kiss any vice-presidential hopes, or even another White House run, goodbye. She could even be in trouble in her own congressional re-election.
Not that Bachmann plans to launch a campaign in Switzerland any time soon. She told Swiss television, “As you can see, there is a lot of competition behind me that I would have to run against, and it would be very stiff, because they’re very good.” She was referencing a group of Swiss parliamentarians standing behind her.
The jokes ignited immediately about Bachmann’s dual citizenship.
“Swiss Family Bachmann” popped up frequently on Twitter, as did the question about how many Swiss bank accounts Bachmann will have. MSNBC’s Ed Schultz questioned what Bachmann would say if Obama had “sought dual citizenship with a socialist country.” Andrew Pavelyev, a Russian scientist who is now a naturalized American citizen, wrote that “American citizens should not have any other citizenship.”
Curiously, Bachmann — for all the Swiss rah-rah on Wednesday — is not a member of the Friends of Switzerland Caucus in the 112th Congress.
But never mind that, Bachmann may feel at home in Switzerland. After all, the country does have a lot of similarities to her home state of Minnesota. That’s why so many Swiss families settled there in the 1800s.
Both places are cold and snowy. Both are overwhelming white in population. And winter sports are hugely popular both in Minnesota and Switzerland. Not to mention Swissfest, which is held yearly in Berne, Minn., that allows visitors to enjoy Swiss dancing, food, yodelers and best of all, an inflatable “Heidi House.”
Bachmann’s Swiss citizenship is a bizarre move while running for reelection. Her spokesman said that her children want to explore dual-citizenship so they did the process as a family.
And while she has continually slammed the Obama administration’s health care law, Switzerland’s health care law mandates that everyone buy coverage, which is subsidized by the government.
Last year, Bachmann said on “Meet the Press,” “I believe that the actions of this government have been emblematic of ones that have not been based on true American values.”
In 2011, Bachmann was also the sponsor of the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act, which would have repealed the phase-out of incandescent light bulbs. In 2009, Switzerland banned the sale of most incandescent light bulbs.
On Wednesday, in the wake of Obama’s support of gay marriage, Bachmann slammed his decision.
“The President’s announcement today shows how out of touch he is [with] the values of American families,” Bachmann said in a statement.
She said, “Americans know better and support traditional marriage. In every state where marriage has been on the ballot, traditional marriage has prevailed. Even last night, in North Carolina, we saw traditional marriage defended.
“Marriage between one man and one woman is the foundation of our society.”
Does she know that Switzerland recognizes same-sex partnerships? In a 2005 referendum, same-sex couples were granted the same rights as married couples in next of kin status, insurance, taxation, and shared possession of dwelling. In fact, it was the first nation to pass such a law by referendum.
Adopting Swiss citizenship, even for family reasons, will open Bachmann up to hard questions from Tea Party loyalists and conservatives on the campaign trail. As one commenter posted on a blog Wednesday: “No better way to say you Love America than becoming a citizen of another country...”
Suzi Parker is an Arkansas-based political and cultural journalist and author of “Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt.” Follow her on Twitter at @SuziParker