By Drew Kaufman and Courtney Howell
Video Courtesy of Noelle Smith
In recent years, Grover Norquist has become a well-known figure in the national political arena. His anti-tax pledge, which many Republicans have signed on to, has had immense control in directing the Party’s tax orthodoxy. Thus, having the opportunity to hear him speak was an extraordinary opportunity.
Norquist certainly didn’t disappoint. His aggressive style may annoy or offend some people, but the man knows how to control and liven up a room. He has strong convictions and knows how to articulate them. There were many notable moments in today’s talk.
Similar to shopping for items in a supermarket, Norquist believes voting shares some of the same principles. Shoppers look for certain brands, and he believes that parties should offer a certain brand to voters. The Republican Party’s brand, he says, is leaving citizens alone and not raising taxes. However, candidates can damage that brand if they don’t follow brand expectations. He used the following example: if you find a rat head in a can of Coca-Cola, the brand is damaged and you won’t buy Coke again. “Republicans today who vote for tax increases are rat heads in the Coke bottle,” said Norquist. In line with this rather inflammatory statement, Norquist then targets Republicans who do support tax increases.
However, Norquist isn’t too concerned about Republicans voting for a tax increase. On that, he said: “I’m more worried about space junk falling on me than Republicans voting for tax increases.” This shows the strength Norquist believes his pledge has on the Republican Party.
Norquist’s fiery style was furthered exhibited in an exchange with a non-Drake student questioner. Clearly the questioner and Norquist’s views differed substantial, so Norquist aggressively attacked.
As you can see, Norquist is willing to hurt feelings, but simultaneously exhibits incredible passion.
Norquist genuinely believes what he is saying and is unwilling to bend to other worldviews. This unwillingness to bend has infected other members of the party and is a contributing factor in political gridlock. This is a truly troubling trend in American politics.
Most of the complex problems this country faces are not black and white. There are numerous shades of gray to nearly every issue. By viewing taxes in this black and white manner, meaning his view that taxes should only be decreased, Norquist is denying the shades of gray that exist with the tax conversation in America.
Holding these black and white views prevents compromise on the issues. Norquist wouldn’t see this as a problem, however. To him, compromise comes from an era where the political parties were undefined in their ideological positions. Legislation was “bipartisan because the two parties [didn’t] mean anything.” For Norquist, the lack of compromise in today’s Washington is occurring because the parties are defined in their beliefs, which he views as a positive change. How fitting of his style is it that Norquist’s rigid beliefs have contributed to gridlock in Washington, but he just doesn’t give a damn?