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Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

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Hullabaloo


Sunday, January 29, 2012

 
Unimpeachable Revolutionary

by digby

Think Progress:

Norquist is now mapping out how he can ensure further anti-tax victories by securing Republican majorities. In an interview with the National Journal, he mused that a GOP mandate would obviously enact an extension of the Bush tax cuts, work to maintain a repatriation holiday for corporate profits, and even pass House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan that jeopardizes Medicare. But when asked what Republicans should do if faced with a Democratic majority that won’t keep the tax cuts, Norquist had a simple answer:“impeach” Obama.

NJ: What if the Democrats still have control? What’s your scenario then?

NORQUIST: Obama can sit there and let all the tax [cuts] lapse, and then the Republicans will have enough votes in the Senate in 2014 to impeach. The last year, he’s gone into this huddle where he does everything by executive order. He’s made no effort to work with Congress.


Grover forgets that President's can only be impeached for treason or high crimes and misdemeanors. (But then they lowered the bar so low with the last one that the definition of high crimes and misdemeanors is now anything equivalent to extramarital blow jobs, so maybe he has a point.)

Still, I think it's time to give Grover his due. It's tempting to make fun of him. His name is kind of funny,and he seems to be a bit of a clown to outside observers, but the truth is that he's probably had more influence on American politics than any other single person in the last 30 years. He has systematically pursued his "market leninist" strategy with focus and patience and resisted the lure of compromise even when the Democrats offered up big cuts to "entitlements," (something that even surprised me.)

He keeps his eye on the prize --- the prize he's been seeking since 1978:

In the handful of Marxists on an elite campus otherwise drained from a decade of political activism, Grover could find sustenance for his view that America’s power structure was dominated by Leftists arrogantly running roughshod over the lives of true Americans. And when he graduated cum laude with a degree in economics in 1978, he could pour more concrete around his already impregnable ideology by drawing on the promise of the tax rebellion erupting throughout the country. All around him, from Massachusetts to California, he saw a popular uprising against bureaucracy and socialist creep. “Get rid of the Soviet government,” he would say, “and I don’t really have much use for ours.”

He was convinced that the adults behind this tax revolt saw what the prep-school radicals at Harvard couldn’t, or wouldn’t: The struts and supports of America’s sprawling government were producing weak and dependent people.(And with the lessons in self-sufficiency that infused Grover’s childhood, he didn’t harbor much tolerance for weak, dependent people.) Government had the pernicious power to steal money from the strong and corrupt the weak with handouts. Government was communal, which meant other people (bureaucrats who weren’t as smart, otherwise they wouldn’t be bureaucrats) telling people like him what to do. The government used taxpayer dollars to create all kinds of mischief.


Norquist is philosophically a hardcore libertarian. But he's a strategist who will use any means to achive his goals. If that means temporarily making common cause with theocrats and imperialists he'll do it.

His most important and enduring tactic is the anti-tax crusade which he has never once compromised. Through it, he basically controls one of the two major parties in America. And he will not give up until he achieves what he set out to achieve --- bankrupting the federal government.

He's a fascinating fellow, whose personality seems almost underdeveloped in some respects:
Grover’s parents left him with a confident righteousness about the world and how to maneuver in it. In doing so they raised a supremely confident young man, but one who seemed to his friends strangely incapable of connecting with others. “He’s not a fellow who is motivated by or particularly needs a whole lot of human warmth or interaction,” explained one friend.

Grover would have trouble understanding, coping with, or even deciphering flaws in those around him. While friends insisted he had a strong moral compass for his own actions, the nuances of human personality in others often eluded him. Friends and allies worried: Grover would embrace a bad apple, based on a precariously built certainty that the person was an ideological loyalist. Just as readily, he’d turn against an ally, based on an equally dubious conclusion that the person was (or would be, or might be) a betrayer to the cause.

Politically, this overcharged sense of self-sufficiency produced in Grover an intolerance for the view that people might turn to government for help as an arbiter, an equalizer of society’s power imbalances. People were best off left alone; a coddling, meddling government could only sap reservoirs of individual strength. From his upbringing, too, came a natural empathy for the survivalist rhetoric of the gun crowd and the antigovernment themes of Western libertarians. Raised in a chic Northeastern suburb, Norquist would increasingly sound like a man spawned from the individualist West. “I’ve always thought,” he would explain later, “that it is part of the American ideology, the American worldview, that people should be left alone to take care of themselves, and other people shouldn’t tell you what to do.”


There's a certain kind of psychology that leads people in Grover's ideological direction. I've met any number of them over the years, many having some of those same personality traits.

But it's a rare person who has his strategic mind and capacity for serious long term commitment to a single, powerful tactic to achieve his goals. He doesn't get the credit he deserves for the state of our politics today. He's a major figure.


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