November 29, 2012 By Jack Jodell
When Americans voted on November 6, they knowingly or maybe even unknowingly exposed government and tax-hating Grover Norquist to be a weak-kneed fraud. Prior to the election, Norquist had been viewed as a near-omnipotent political force whom most Republicans and even many Democrats had dared not cross. For Norquist had convinced many of them to sign a pledge to never vote to raise taxes, under threat of facing an anti-tax primary opponent in the next election. This preposterous Taxpayer Protection Pledge had been utilized successfully for nearly 30 years. But now, at long last, its iron-clad grip on Republican legislators may finally be loosening, and not one moment too soon.
Grover Norquist is the pampered son of a former longtime Polaroid Corporation vice president. Young Grover has never wanted for anything, and was naturally educated in all the finest schools. He became a deviant opponent of the federal government in his early teens. In fact, years before he could even vote, he volunteered to get out the vote for Republican Richard Nixon’s successful 1968 presidential bid!
In 1985, Norquist founded the notorious Americans For Tax Reform lobbying group. Prior to this he had been active as Executive Director for both the National Taxpayers Union and the national College Republicans. With ATR, Norquist was able to radically alter the Republican Party’s approach to taxation. At the height of his power, this selfish member of the richest 1% had pushed for, and attained, massive tax reductions primarily for the very wealthiest in the country. He had succeeded, as a NON-ELECTED lobbyist, in wielding great control over elected congresspersons! His self-stated aim of reducing the federal government “to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub” seemed to be well on its way to a successful conclusion. But then came the events of the fall of 2012.
The Republican Party, now fully infested with radically reactionary Tea Party extremists, was seemingly within striking distance of eradicating vital social programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. The middle class was shrinking as extremist Republicans and Tea Party fanatics embraced Norquist’s very flawed vision of a fatally-weakened federal government. Wealth disparity had reached an all-time high, yet still many Republicans were pushing for even more tax reductions for the rich. With the federal deficit at an all-time high, the hapless GOP nominated a multi-millionaire, Mitt Romney, as its candidate for President. Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, then began advocating a massive reduction in much-needed social safety net “entitlement” programs for the needy. Romney even proposed what would be a disastrous debt-building further 20% cut in taxes across the board. If elected, this would surely spell the end of the federal government as our country had known it. Norquist, Romney, and Ryan undoubtedly believed they were heralding in an unprecedented far-right shift to the American body politic.
But each man was living in his own fool’s paradise. For each, in his own way, was badly misreading the public and was slipping further and further away from the real world. Secluded in their own secure world of fabulous wealth, they completely ignored the tremendous significance of the OCCUPY movement, which united the lower 99% MAJORITY against the excesses of the wealthiest 1% minority. They misread a MAJORITY public which had grown tired of class warfare aimed squarely at them for the past 30 years. They misinterpreted the public’s desire for tax FAIRNESS, thinking it was instead obsessed, like they were, with tax reductions. But worst of all, each of these mistaken men thought the public actually hated the government as much as they themselves did! The devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy should have been a wake-up call for each of these men – in that it proved the value and necessity of a strong federal government in times of great need by afflicted citizens. But instead, they missed the point entirely. So their agenda was decisively rejected.
In the wake of this rejection, the influence of Grover Norquist has been greatly reduced. He has been relegated to the ranks of the non-relevant in the eyes of many, at long last. For, a growing number of Republicans, among them Tom Cole, Peter King, Saxby Chambliss, Bob Corker, Lindsay Graham, and others, are beginning to question the wisdom of following Norquist’s pledge indefinitely through this period of record, growing deficits. A good number of them will break it. In doing so, they will lift the mysterious shroud Norquist has cloaked himself in for all these years, and expose him to be the small little self-centered man of limited vision we progressives have always known him to be!