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Grover Norquist, prophet
By Bernard Chapin
On Sunday I witnessed one of the crowning jewels of conservatism, Grover Norquist, speak at the 2004 Chicago Conservative Convention. He is the President of Americans for Tax Reform or, as the MC put it, "the spider at the center of our web."
He was affable yet aggressive, and pummeled statists almost as much as he made the audience laugh. To set the tone, Norquist introduced himself as one who originally came from Massachusetts before deciding to immigrate to the United States.
His description of the political landscape will undoubtedly appeal to many conservatives as he believes there is no longer much overlap between the two sides of our ideological spectrum. Grover views those of us on the right as being "the good guys" who "just want to be left alone." Conservatives ask the government for nothing. Norquist used as an example that "the NRA doesn't lobby for books to be published called 'Heather has Two Hunters'" or a "government grant to be issued allowing us to date girls."
He easily juxtaposed these positions with those of the left. Norquist regards their motives as being purely redistributionist. These are life's "coercive utopians" who want to give us toilets we can't flush and cars in which no family can fit. This is a coalition embodied by takers. He postulates that without an ever expansive gluttonous government, there would be no left at all. They're married to the government while we are often married to members of the opposite sex.
The President of Americans for Tax Reform sees the dichotomy between conservatives and pseudo-liberals as being no where more acute than in the nature of their friendships. Those on the right are friends; whereas, those on the left are competing parasites. If they didn't have the government to rally around as a shrine they'd eventually eat one another alive.
Norquist then shared the secret for Republican transcendence and that is to constantly seize upon the populace's hatred for taxation. He distributed his organization's newsletter, "The Tax Reformer," and within it was a Xeroxed copy of their Taxpayer Protection Pledge. The pledge has been signed by 216 U.S. Representatives of the 2002 Congress, 42 U.S. Senators, and by the president himself.
"Slacker Republicans" was his way of describing the phenomenon of conservatives who wish to raise our taxes. He jokingly described their tombstones as reading, "He was a state senator–the end." The message clearly is that cutting taxes at both the state and federal level is a winner for all concerned.
The graveyards of elected officials are overpopulated with those who don't take the property of taxpayers seriously. He told of the Governor of Alabama who "outwardly had no signs of mad cow disease" and even cited Jesus in his attempt to create a bigger and lazier leviathan [although Norquist comically noted here that he was previously unaware of Paul advocating for a progressive income tax in the New Testament]. Although the Governor got every got every newspaper in his state to back his dementia, the people trounced his initiatives. Fortunately, the same thing happened with the "latte tax" in Washington.
Norquist then issued advice to activists on how to deal with public officials who want to steal more dollars from us in the name of education. He recommended turning their arguments around by asking why, if education was so important to them, did they underfund it in the budget in the first place? Why can't they reallocate present resources to ensure that the schools have enough money? The left never will agree to cut spending because that would take away their modus operandi.
A large guffaw resonated in the ballroom when he relayed his experiences from the day before during his appearance on "Bolshevik Radio"–otherwise known as Air America. He was debating a New York Times reporter who disliked the way in which Norquist referred to the Democrats as "the party of hate and envy." Grover's way of dealing with this was to repeat it a few more times.
The debate showcased the losing nature of contemporary liberal thought. They continue to vilify corporations even though 70 percent of the voters in the 2002 election directly or vicariously owned shares of stock. Norquist predicts that the class warfare hawked by Democrats will be their own undoing as our country has changed. The depression has long been over and, as the greatest generation fades away, there will be fewer and fewer diehard New Dealers to accept the lies of class division.
The beginning of the end, or perhaps a sign of its rapid acceleration, is the nomination of John Kerry with his history of 350 votes for increased taxation. He, as opposed to Ted Kennedy, is "the most liberal senator in the history of the world."
The best indicator of tomorrow's Republican boats rising is the Hispanic vote. The 35th percentile among this subgroup of citizens is the major prerequisite for the right being triumphant for the foreseeable future.
My own favorite part of his speech came during the question and answer period when he was asked as to why there are so many Lexus Liberals around. Norquist holds that most of the people who get rich quick believe that their luck is indicative of the way in which everyone makes money. Julia Roberts was the primary example. He said that 50,000 women in the United States are as beautiful as she but most of them never get rich. Roberts believes that everyone, including all the country's entrepreneurs, made money in the same fashion she did–by chance. Those who don't earn it never appreciate it and Norquist regards these individuals as being the most dangerous of all.
But celebrity twits will never threaten us in the way Norquist threatens the left. He is assertive, dynamic and as clever as a chess Grand Master. It's people in the trenches like Grover who are responsible for today's Republican majorities. Without his talent and fortitude, we'd be bowed below Misery Indexes that are actually miserable.
Bernard Chapin is a writer living in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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