Grover Norquist usually spends part of his Wednesdays overseeing a gathering of more than 150 “center-right” elected officials and political activists in Washington, D.C. He missed this week’s meeting, and instead spent Wednesday morning discussing politics with a gathering of several dozen conservative activists in Iowa.
Norquist was the featured speaker at the Westside Conservative Breakfast Club, held at The Machine Shed in Urbandale. As the president of Americans for Tax Reform, Norquist’s impact on American politics is significant. His organization’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge is the most powerful issue advocacy pledge in U.S. politics.
These days, countless organizations demand candidates sign various pledges, from standing up against abortion to building a double-chain fence across the southern border. Those who refuse to take the pledges are questioned or even vilified. However, Norquist’s demand that Republican candidates pledge not to raise taxes is the standard bearer.
“The Taxpayer Protection Pledge works because it’s been there for 25 years,” Norquist said. “It is a pledge to one’s constituents. They run on it again and again and it’s in keeping what they said what they were going to do when the ran.”
Norquist spent 35 minutes Wednesday morning laying out his views on the state of American politics, and the hopes for conservatives in the future. He believes Republicans will maintain a majority in the U.S. house through at least 2022. Norquist also thinks taking control of the U.S. Senate in 2014 is a real possibility, and views the Hawkeye State as one of the possible GOP pickups.
“It is extremely possible, if you look at the states, the Republicans are likely to pick up South Dakota, Montana, Louisiana,” Norquist told attendees. “West Virginia is becoming an increasingly Republican state thanks to the democrats’ decision to hate coal miners…North Carolina looks very good and Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan, even New Hampshire.”
Norquist noted that in order to turn the country around, having majorities in both chambers of congress, as well as winning the presidency in 2016 or 2020 is a necessity. Then, he says, they need to enact Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget plan, which would institute entitlement reform and save the country from an unsustainable path. Norquist also believes that if the GOP stands firm on not raising taxes, the Democrats will implode.
“The left, they’re not friends, they’re not allies, around the left’s table. They’re competing parasites. And if we don’t give them taxpayers to chew on, they’ll turn on each other,” Norquist said.
Norquist reasoned that conservatives would not devour each other in the same fashion because their issues are about liberty, not feeding from the taxpayer troth. He says the Republican Party is not as divided as the media portrays it.
“The only argument we’re having now is on tactics and strategies about how to get to the same place,” Norquist said. “Those are fun conversations to have all day, but they’re conflicts of principle. Everybody’s trying to get that way. And I’m all in favor of compromising on the road to liberty.”
Compromise on key issues is something some conservatives refuse to do. However, Norquist says compromising is acceptable in the name of making progress. He used a travel analogy to make his point.
“If you’re in Washington, D.C., and you’re trying to get to California, ending up in Iowa is not treason. Iowa is on the way to California. If you’re trying to go that way, and you can only get part way for a while, keep going as hard and fast as you can in the right direction,” Norquist said.
Norquist also pointed out that although Republicans have struggled in national elections recently, they hold the governor’s office and both chambers of the legislature in 25 states. Using a map to illustrate his point, Norquist kept Iowa colored white, telling attendees they can color it red when the GOP finally claims a majority in the state senate.
“I know that you guys are making progress in some areas despite the challenges with the state senate, but in the red states, you actually are seeing tremendous moves towards increased liberty,” Norquist said.
Norquist pointed out substantial progress has been made on significant issues thanks to Republican legislatures and governors, and cited some specific examples. Homeschooling was illegal in almost every state 25 years ago, and is now legal across the nation. School choice and concealed carry laws are two more issues where Americans have reclaimed freedom and liberals would have a very hard time taking those rights away.
Norquist also weighed on the continuing government shutdown, noting there are significant differences between how President Obama is handling this one, compared to past democrats in the Oval Office. Specifically, open air memorials are being shut down with barriers erected and guards installed.
“We’ve had government closedowns before. Under Jimmy Carter, five,” Norquist said. “They lasted together 58 days. Do you remember them closing down parks? No, because he was not bitter and vindictive and trying to make a political point because of the closedown. The present guy is.”
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