One of the most influential figures in politics isn’t even a politician. Grover Norquist, the wealthy lobbyist who obtains the pledges of Republican candidates to not raise taxes under any circumstance, has succeeded in tying up Congress and hindering the development of realistic ways to fix the country’s budget woes. Fortunately, as of late, Norquist’s stronghold appears to be weakening. Here are five signs that Norquist is losing his political clout:
1. The Natives are Restless
For the first time, Republicans are beginning to renounce Norquist’s pledge. What was previously essentially a conservative litmus test is now up for debate. Senator Saxby Chambliss declared, “I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge. If we do it his way, then we’ll continue in debt.” Senator Lindsey Graham indicated similar feelings, explaining,“I will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country.” Other Republican Congresspeople like Scott Rigell, Bob Corker, Steve LaTourette and Peter King have expressed similar changes of heart.
2. His Ballot Measures are Failing
This November, Norquist endorsed Michigan’s Proposal 6, a plan to add obstacles to the creation of a bridge between Detroit and Canada. However, voters rejected the Proposal anyway. Furthermore, although California’s Proposition 31 was not sponsored by Norquist, the ballot measure largely contained his philosophies in addressing the state’s budget woes. Again, voters rejected these potential laws by a large margin.
3. His Desperation is Showing
Following the media attention of potential pledge defectors, Norquist is laying it on thick that absolutely nothing will change. His outright denial, as seen in this Salon article, shows a desperate man who is ignoring the facts to retain a semblance of power. Beyond that, Norquist’s most notable talking point for the whole election cycle was when he suggested President Obama had won by portraying Mitt Romney as a “poopy head.” It was just a sophomoric stunt aimed to retain some sort of relevancy.
4. People See Through the Façade
After having a conversation with Norquist earlier this year, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni says he realized that Norquist’s idea “wasn’t supposed to be a plausible argument, merely an attention-getting one. It had less to do with serious policy or sensible politics than with sheer performance.” Increasingly, people are becoming aware that Norquist is more of a showman, and an egotistical one at that. A Washington Post profile reveals that Norquist’s library includes over 100 copies of his own book and hundreds of publications that either quote or reference him.
5. The Ideology is Losing Voter Support
Plain and simple, Norquist is less of a person and more of a philosophy. And that philosophy is no longer one that resonates with voters. As ThinkProgress points out, about 80 Republican Senate and House candidates who signed the pledge failed to win their elections. Moreover, the 15 House Republican incumbents who lost had all signed Norquist’s pledge.
While it’s premature to say that Norquist has lost his sway altogether, the tides are turning. With any luck, if enough Republicans agree that the welfare of the country is more important than a self-destructive promise to a rich lobbyist, Congress might finally be able to accomplish some significant change.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore