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Michele Bachmann vs. Rick Perry: Who's the Bigger Right-Wing Extremist?

Who really deserves a reputation as too much of a right-wing extremist for the Beltway media to take seriously?

As the battle for the Republican nomination for president heats up, more attention is being paid to Rep. Michele Bachmann from Minnesota, who is cast as the crazy-eyed right-wing nut, and Gov. Rick Perry from Texas, who gets to play the role of the more reasonable Republican who will likely win the nomination.

But, as the progressive press has been doggedly trying to expose, Bachmann and Perry are far more alike in the “crazy right-wing nut” department than they might initially seem. After all, Perry has a record of ordering the execution of an obviously innocent man , which goes beyond being tough on crime into the territory of killing as a demonstration of power.  

So what’s the real story? In a battle of who’s the biggest right-wing nut, who would win, Michele Bachmann or Rick Perry? I compiled a set of barometers of modern right-wing nuttery and weighed each candidate against them to see who really deserves a reputation in the Beltway media as too much of a right-wing extremist to be taken seriously: 

Christian Dominionism. Dominionism used to be a fringe belief, even among fundamentalist Christians in politics, because it’s rooted in Christian Reconstructionism, an ideology that promotes extreme theocracy and includes legalizing slavery and stoning people as criminal punishments for such “crimes” as homosexuality and disobedience to parents. However, in recent years, evangelicals have picked up Dominionism, ignoring its most unsavory aspects in favor of running with the arguments for theocracy.  As Michelle Golberg recounted in the Daily Beast,  both Bachmann and Perry have taken beliefs from Dominionists, and put into action the idea that the American government should be a Christian theocracy based around a fundamentalist interpretation of Scripture.  

Both Perry and Bachmann put a great deal of effort into their theocratic values. Perry not only hosted a prayer event at the governor's mansion, a blatant violation of the separation of church and state,  but it was sponsored  by a group of Dominionists who believe God wants them to take over all the pillars of government and society so they can run the country as a Pentecostal theocracy.   

Frank Schaeffer, who used to be an adherent to these theocratic views but has since changed his mind,  has also called out Bachmann . Referencing a New Yorker profile of Bachmann that exposed her religious extremism, Schaeffer fleshed out the radical agenda of Bachmann’s mentors and colleagues, pointing out that folks who believe in this philosophy are willing to destroy the country’s economic system if that’s what it takes for them to take the reins of power.   

Wingnut points:  Two per, because as Goldberg says, “Perry tends to be regarded as marginally more reasonable than Bachmann, but he is as closely associated with Dominionism as she is, though his links are to a different strain of the ideology [a Pentecostal one].” 

The very existence of federal power. Bachmann is no lightweight in making outrageous, hypocritical claims about the illegitimacy of federal power, claiming, for instance,  that she would like to destroy  the EPA while quietly requesting money from the agency for her district. Bachmann also expressed a desire to end Social Security and Medicare, but  of course only for future generations , as she wants the vote of elderly people who are happy to get theirs while telling future generations to starve. Perry has gone a step further, not only denouncing these programs for future generations, but also  claiming they're unconstitutional.  Perry recently abandoned the entire piecemeal approach,  calling on the president  to cease enforcing  all federal regulations, presumably so we can get past this tedious phase of national decline and move right into Mad Max territory. 

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