Skip to content
Who's in the Video
Grover Norquist is the president of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), a coalition of taxpayer groups, individuals and businesses opposed to higher taxes at both the federal, state and local[…]

Consensus breeds statism.

Question: Is the American political system broken?


Grover Norquist: No. ___________. And one of the reasons is people remember. And I’m in the middle of a debate with somebody from the New Republic who has done a book who said, “There was all this consensus in the ‘40s and the ‘50s.” Yes. It’s called statism. It was called, “We’re the government and we tell you what to do. Ha-ha-ha! And you agree.” You had racial segregation and nobody objecting. It was enshrined in law. You had a draft and no draft riots. Yes, there was a great deal of consensus for state power and state control of people’s lives. It was bad, but it was consensus. And everything was bipartisan in the ‘40s and the ‘50s because the two parties were divided along regional lines. Northerners, Republicans. Southerners, Democrat.

Some _________ of immigrants that came in from the side. But if somebody was a Republican, it only told you he was born north of the Mason-Dixon line. It didn’t tell you whether he wanted big government or small government. If someone was a Democrat, you knew he was born south of the Mason-Dixon line, or he might be an immigrant from Ireland or something. But it didn’t tell you what he thought about philosophically. During the lifetime of Ronald Reagan, the two political parties have divided out along ideological lines. The Republican party is the “leave us alone” coalition that wants limited government.

The Democratic party and the coalition is the “takings” coalition that views the proper role of government as taking things from some people and giving them to others. These are in opposite directions. Republicans want less taxes, lower taxes, less spending. Ds want more taxes, more spending; more control, less control. So there cannot be anything bipartisan that deals with the real interests of the people. You can get bipartisan agreement when elected Republicans and elected Democrats get together to give themselves more pay. Or when they vote their class interest as the ruling class, as congressmen and senators. “We want more pensions for us. We want more pay for us. We want more earmarks for us. We don’t like this _________ stuff.

We like campaign finance reform to keep challengers from being able to speak against us in campaigns.” So all bipartisan efforts in modern times are efforts by elected officials against the interests of the people. It’s when the two parties fight on taxes, and spending, and size of government that one represents the “leave us alone” coalition, and one represents the “takings” coalition. So there’s a great deal of conflict because the two parties and the two political impulses want to go in different directions.

And that doesn’t end until I hope the “leave us alone” coalition convinces the overwhelming majority of the American people to move in their direction. And then a whole bunch of people who have been Democrats and “takings” coalition people recognize that they would be better off and happier in a freer society and join our team. It’s not like you’re going to beat them. You’re going to get them to defect. And so as Augustus Cesar showed up in Egypt, all of Mark Anthony’s troops switched teams. He didn’t kill them all; they switched teams and left Mark Anthony alone.


Recorded on: September 12, 2007