By Teresa Welsh |
As the saying goes, "Power is in the eye of the beholder" and for more than 20 years, GOP candidates and elected officials have been beholden to the self-proclaimed power of Grover Norquist.
For many years, he has demanded that if anyone was going to be a player in the Republican Party, they must sign "The Pledge," committing to never raise taxes. His threat was that he was going to bring all of his mighty forces down on anyone who crossed him and wreak election and political ruin.
Grover's goal has always been to maintain the illusion that he has control over a politician's destiny. But, a funny thing happened in the election of 2012. A majority of America voted for the presidential candidate who was unabashed in his support for raising taxes for the top 2 percent. Republicans in Congress watched their approval ratings drop to one of the lowest levels ever and saw the defeat of a number of Grover's candidates who had signed his pledge.
The collateral damage was clear. In total, every Republican presidential hopeful signed Norquist's pledge and lost. Democrats grew their ranks in the Senate and saw 24 pledge-signing Senate incumbents or hopefuls losing. Over 55 House incumbents or hopefuls who had signed the pledge lost.
What people are starting to learn is that Grover is an unelected demagogue who cares more about self-promotion than addressing and solving the fiscal problems of our country. Perhaps Republicans are finally learning that it's not only time to tweak the message, but also time to tweak the messenger.
Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia said it well, "I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year old pledge. If we do it [Norquist's] way, then we'll continue in debt." The senator knows that if Republicans want to maintain any viable chance at winning the White House in the future, they must work to solve America's current fiscal crisis, something that is not possible without a compromise which includes raising revenue and thus piercing a large hole in Grover's pledge.
About Penny Lee Democratic Strategist
Pete Sepp Executive Vice President of the National Taxpayers Union
Judson Phillips Founder of Tea Party Nation
Richard Rahn Senior Fellow of the Cato Institute