On Wednesday, we wrote an analysis of what retiring Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann meant for politics. We got tons of feedback — some printable, some not — about our conclusions. One of the most interesting came from Pat McFerron, a partner at CMA Strategies, an Oklahoma-based Republican political consulting company. We’ve posted McFerron’s unedited thoughts on Bachmann below.
Michelle Bachmann’s retirement has caused none other than Chris Cillizza and The Fix to ponder the lasting legacy of her time in politics. While I don’t disagree with Cillizza’s assessment, I think one can go even deeper.
When thinking about the long-term health of the Republican Party, I think Bachmann’s legacy could be more damaging. There is no doubt, she has been able to activate and mobilize primary voters. But her ability to tap into this conservative network has shown other candidates that you don’t have to appeal to a broader middle to be successful. She has also demonstrated that in today’s social media world you can find even a small niche of supporters that can make you relevant to the national debate.
Within today’s Republican Party, one no longer has to have the ability to lead to be personally successful – you just have to be able to tap into the lifeblood of politics. Because of social media, that lifeblood is no longer confined to Main Street and personal relationships, but instead can be reached through any number Internet Superhighway exit ramps.
Bob Dole’s recent comments about the Republican Party needing be closed for repairs is, to me, the flip side of the Michelle Bachmann phenomenon. Bachmann, who Cillizza accurately pointed out could not lead within Congress, still had a constituency and was able to use this network to shift the debate so far from the middle that those like Dole think serious repairs need to be made.
Of course, Bachmann is not alone in this endeavor. She is, however, possibly the most successful of the digital age.