As a common man in an uncommon country, I must admit there are times I just don’t get it. It isn’t hard to figure out the two parties and what they stand for, but it is how some of the role players are accepted. This is especially true when some of the role players are supporting only a small fraction of the party.
After all, each party is gunning for the barest of majority votes to when the election seats up for grabs in 2012. In fact, the majority isn’t even necessary for the presidents, what with our screwy electoral voting system handing over all the value of the state electoral count for a simple plurality of votes. The congressmen, however, are on their own with direct votes from the voters.
The truly special role player for the GOP is a person no one elected, no one petitioned, does not have any public office, and isn’t accountable to the public. That person is Grover Norquist. For those that don’t know who he is, Grover founded the “Americans for Tax Reform” and to this day is the head cheese of this organization. To say he founded it might be a misnomer; it was more a case that one sunny day he was sitting on a park bench and decreed that he would start an organization.
It would be possible for any of us to create an organization, such as “The Center for Disposable Diaper Recycling”, and in all likelihood, it would be gone quickly. But through some effective speaking and the backing of those well off that don’t like how the government takes some of their hard-earned money to go to expenses like food stamps, Mr. Norquist has been able to keep ATR on a flourishing trend.
It has been so successful that Grover Norquist created a special tax pledge for all Senators and Representatives to sign. It is a rather simple document, a single page, with spaces for the signer and a witness, and dates. If you haven’t seen it, just click here: http://www.atr.org/userfiles/Congressional_pledge%281%29.pdf. I’ve seen more complicated employee bathroom policy agreements.
The impact belies its size. Basically, this hamstrings the signer to NEVER raise taxes, including provisions that ends tax cuts even if the tax cuts were a temporary measure designed to help with a short term funding problems (like flaccid economies and other small matters), no excuses.
There was a day and a time when two parties battled over legislation, many of which had provisions to provide the public services necessary for the well-being of our nation, provisions that may or may not include tax changes. Since two sides look at such legislation with differing viewpoints, it was necessary to compromise in order to get anything done. Some of those compromises included tax changes. If a budding congressman is dealing with this type of legislation and this budding congressman signed the ATR tax pledge, compromise is surely a ghostly prospect.
And here is one aspect the typical GOP voter doesn’t really get: Grover Norquist is not one of us. Grover Norquist never had a tough day in his life. As the son of a Polaroid Corporation V.P., Grover never had to scrounge for a meal, worry about having decent clothes, or go to a plain old state university or local college. Grover is a person of privilege. I’m sure he didn’t need to work or carry monstrous school debt to pay for his Harvard College education. His opportunity came to him the first day he took a breath in this difficult world. He can’t fathom what it means to not eat for a day or if he has a serious medical need, worry about how the medical bills get paid or wonder where his next job comes from. He is one of the lucky few that had a great start and wants to keep those like him from having to support the opportunity for others.
Grover Norquist’s one accomplishment is how he has elected officials running scared. People that we have elected to hold office, sworn to uphold the Constitution and represent the constituents that put them in Congress, are now beholding to a man that says you can vote for any legislation as long as there are no additional tax revenues in that piece of legislation no matter how beneficial it is. To do otherwise is to invite certain opposition, guaranteed to be a well-funded, to be faced in the next primary election.
It is one thing to have conservative principles and to legislate honorably by pressing for bills supporting a conservative position, but it is another to reduce those options equated to drawing a line in the sand to appease a person not voted into office by a single person. To do so is to eliminate the democratic principle of representative government by the public to representation by the few. Our nations motto, “E Pluribus Unum” will be changed to “Unum Super Multis” – One Over The Many.