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Teen who challenged Bachmann to Constitution showdown is running for class president

Liz Goodwin

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When 16-year-old Amy Myers launched her campaign to be class president at Cherry Hill East High School in New Jersey, the boys in her sophomore class began teasing her. And that crash course in how aspiring female leaders get judged on the basis of gender led, in a roundabout way, to Myers' challenge to debate Minnesota GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann on the Constitution.

"Your slogan for president should be that you're not a witch," Myers' male detractors said, referencing the much-mocked campaign stance of ex-Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell, who decided to confront her years-old statements about Wicca head-on in her first TV ad. The boys told Myers she just wanted to be "another girl politician" like O'Donnell and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, whom the boys (and pretty much every late-night comedian) often made fun of.

"And I just said, 'oh great,'" recalls Myers.

Myers was angry that many of the most visible female politicians were seen as fodder for jokes and ridicule, which made her peers think it was ok to mock her political aspirations, too. She singled out Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) after her father noticed the congresswoman had incorrectly stated the Revolutionary War Battles of Lexington and Concord happened in New Hampshire. (She told a group of conservatives in Manchester in March: "You're the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord.") In January, Myers watched agasp as Bachmann said America's founding fathers "worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States."


"We covered the presidents, and we're currently at Jackson," Myers says. She says that though John Adams (and his son John Quincy Adams, who was not a founding father) objected to slavery, the other founding fathers did own slaves. They were all dead before slavery was officially abolished in 1865, during the Civil War.

She decided that Bachmann's inaccurate historical statements were irresponsible, since they reflected badly on women everywhere, and particularly on Myers herself. (We at The Lookout would like to point out that politicians of both genders frequently say stupid things; you can consult our sister blog The Ticket for proof.) The forceful letter Myers ended up writing to Bachmann, challenging her to a showdown over the Constitution and civics generally, quickly went viral on political blogs. Many Yahoo! commenters suggested that all politicians be forced to take the challenge before being allowed to take office.

As the letter picked up national attention, Myers' campaign to be class president also started to gather steam. And she finally feels she is getting respect from the boys who teased her.

"The big joke in school is: Want to hear a funny joke? Haha, women's rights," says Myers. "Also the boys will tell you, 'Oh go make me a sandwich,' when you leave the table. That's what they're all like--it's awful!

But ever since this happened everyone's been cheering me on, and now everyone's so supportive. And I was surprised at how quickly everyone came to the realization that I am serious about politics," she says.

When asked about female politicians she admires, Myers lists Abigail Adams, Sandra Day O'Connor, Margaret Thatcher, and Eleanor Roosevelt. But when we asked her about current officer-holders, she paused. "I'm trying to think," she says. "Generally the people I admire, most of them are deceased or they are retired from office," she concluded.

She says that even though some people online have accused her of being a "Communist" for her criticism of Bachmann, she characterizes her own politics as independent and thinks of herself as a "split-ticket" kind of voter--once she's old enough to vote, that is.

Myers still hasn't received a response from Bachmann, but says she's ready to make good on the debate challenge at a time and venue of the congresswoman's choosing. A request for comment from Bachmann's spokesman has gone unanswered.

(Myers: Alexandra Elisabetta)

May 16, 2011