Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cult Politics

I have this crazy, mixed up thought that the politicians we elect are supposed to represent those of us who elected them.

Yet there is one man who has a Svengali-like hold on the Republican wing of Congress, a hold that I'm not sure is disturbing, annoying, reprehensible or all of the above.

His name is Grover Norquist, and apparently Grover's interests and marching orders trump those of the electorate when it comes to the GOP members of Congress.

Norquist, back in 1985, started Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), apparently at the behest of President Ronald Reagan. Norquist has never held political office, nor has ever run for so much as city councilman. Yet he has somehow managed to convince dozens of Congressmen (and women) to be his lapdogs.

Norquist is the originator of The Pledge, which holds to the fire the feet of every member of Congress (and Senate) who has taken it. It's a pledge to never raise taxes, under any circumstances.

From Norquist's Wiki page: Prior to the November 2012 election, 238 of 242 House Republicans and 41 out of 47 Senate Republicans had signed ATR's "Taxpayer Protection Pledge", in which the pledger promises to "oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and business; and to oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates."

"I'll have to check with Grover," one of the new U.S. Reps from Michigan actually said when the Detroit Free Press recently asked if that rep would support modest tax increases on the wealthy.

I'll have to check with Grover?

The GOP is no longer a party; it's a political cult. And Norquist is their Jim Jones.


Grover Norquist

Norquist has steadfastly refused to reveal the identity of those who fund his ATR, but it's widely speculated that the contributors are wealthy individuals, foundations and corporate interests. Big surprise, I know.

I have a fundamental problem with a non-elected person---Norquist himself; he IS the ATR---wielding so much power and influence over those elected and who are sworn to represent their constituents.

As the nation teeters on the brink of the so-called "fiscal cliff," Norquist has become front and center in the debate, as one-time sensible, independent thinking politicians have been revealed instead to be members of Norquist's cult.

There isn't any wiggle room for common sense, reasoning or debate in ATR's pledge. Only now are some pledge takers beginning to see the light of the oncoming freight train and backing away from Norquist's outdated, outrageous pledge.

Norquist appears to be a one-man lobby and special interest, all by himself. He wields power a lot of elected officials could only dream of having.

As long as actual members of Congress are saying things like "I'll have to check with Grover" when confronted with issues affecting our national economy and children's future, something is seriously wrong.

You want to talk about pledges?

How about the one to the American people.

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