May 20, 2011
Dear Michele Bachmann:
As of this writing, I have seen no reports of any response on your part to the recent challenge high school student Amy Myers issued to you to debate “The Constitution of the United States, United States History and United States Civics.” Ever calculating, you have decided that you can safely ignore this challenge, and apparently fail to denounce your followers who have allegedly threatened this young woman with physical violence, including rape, because you know that many people will dismiss her challenge as a childish prank.
While I certainly have no desire to disparage Ms. Myers’ obvious intelligence and precocity, which I find admirable and deserving of a serious response, I thought I would go her one better, which I am able to do primarily by dint of being roughly thirty years older than Ms. Myers. Ms. Bachmann, I hereby challenge you to a debate on essentially the same terms as those Ms. Myers specified, but with this important difference: I hold a Ph.D. in U.S. history and a J.D. and taught U.S. history for two years in your district, at St. Cloud State University (2000-2002).
You cannot so easily dismiss me. This is no childhood prank. I’m serious. Let’s get down and dirty and talk about the elitists who wrote the U.S. Constitution in order to create a central government that was significantly more powerful, particularly with respect to the power to tax, than the predecessor under the Articles of Confederation. Let’s talk about Madison’s fear, evident in Federalist Number Ten, of the unchecked power of popular majorities. Let’s talk about the elitism obvious in the Constitution from the fact that the original document envisioned no necessary role for a popular vote at all in choosing the President, or in allocating to state legislatures the power to choose the states’ senators, or in granting “unelected” federal judges tenure “on good behavior” and in prohibiting Congress from reducing or eliminating their pay, thereby insulating them as much as possible from political interference. Let’s talk about the Founders who were slave owners and who wrote slavery into the Constitution knowing that their fellow slave owners would never adopt the document otherwise. Let’s talk about the three-fifths compromise that counted each slave as three-fifths of a person, thereby giving slave owners disproportionate power in Congress as they gained representation for their slaves without, need we even say it, allowing them to vote.
Oh, and let’s talk about your loyal followers and their propensity to attack anyone who challenges you. I’m sure they’ll have a field day with me, since they can now pick on someone their own size who isn’t the least bit afraid of them (not to disparage Ms. Myers’ poor father, who is only being a good parent in looking out for his daughter’s well-being).
So, in the popular parlance of the day, bring it on.
Very truly yours,
William B. Turner, Ph.D., J.D.