With arts and public broadcast issues percolating on the edge of the race for the 2012 presidential race, I thought it made sense to look at where the declared and prospective candidates for president have stood on arts issues throughout their careers. Their views on everything from arts education to support for local artistic traditions say a lot about how they value culture—but also about how they think about the role of government.
Michele Bachmann’s career in politics has been fairly short, and her record on the arts is correspondingly fairly flimsy. But what record she does has indicates staunch opposition to any government role in supporting the arts.
2006: As a GOP state senator, Bachmann opposed an amendment to the Minnesota constitution that would have raised the state’s sales tax to fund development of outdoor spaces and the arts. At the time, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Bachmann said: “Republicans support the arts just as much as Democrats support the arts. The only question is who will pay for it? We don’t want government choosing which arts are subsidized and which ones aren’t.”
2009: Now in Congress, Bachmann votes against the omnibus appropriations bill. Her reasoning? “Even more incredulous is the fact that this omnibus appropriations bill contains funding for many of the same agencies and programs that already received funds in the so-called ‘stimulus’ bill—162 programs in fact,” she said, according to the States News Service. “We also have funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, which, fresh off receiving $50 million from the ‘stimulus,’ is now in line to receive $138 million in this latest proposal.”
2010: Bachmann cosponsored a bill introduced by Rep. Doug Lamborn that would have eliminated funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
2011: When Bachmann proposed an alternative to President Obama’s budget earlier this year, the MN Progressive Project noted that her outline would have eliminated the National Endowment for the Arts. Later that year, she voted for passage of H.R. 1076, which would have stripped all funding from National Public Radio and banned the federal government from spending money on radio content.
None of these are particularly novel or surprising positions for someone of Bachmann’s stated beliefs. She may have genuine policy eccentricities, but when it comes to the arts, Bachmann’s a predictable small-government conservative.