Last Tuesday, the Georgetown University College Republicans hosted guest speaker Grover Norquist at their general body meeting. The President of Americans for Tax Reform spoke about recent trends in Republican Party politics.
Norquist, a GU Politics Fellow this semester, outlined his views on the current political situation. He argued that Republicans dominate U.S. politics at the state and national levels. Assuming split-party states are more likely to lean towards the party that controls their legislature, Republicans currently hold about two-thirds of states.
He explained the Republican dominance through the “two-coalition model.” Up until the 1960s, political parties in the United States were less ideologically distinct. Under Reagan, however, the two parties organized more clearly under ideological terms, leading to two seperate coalitions.
According to Norquist, the Right represents the “Leave Us Alone Coalition.” Republican voters are motivated by policies that reduce government intervention. The coalition consists of “people who believe in lower taxes, the NRA, homeschoolers and religious freedom individuals.” Norquist considers the Right a “low-maintenance” coalition because its policies do not encourage government coercion.
The Left, on the other hand, is the “Takings Coalition.” The coalition consists of people who want to use tax-payer money to fund individual interests. It is made up of “trial lawyers, unions, government workers, welfare beneficiaries, and people interested in higher taxes.” Norquist argues that the problem with this coalition is that it can only exist if there is a healthy flow of money to fund its interests.
“The difference is in the morality of our position,” he told students. “That along with how we are able to make more of us and less of them.”
Norquist referred to the recent policy issue of vaping to illustrate his model. He said that because the Left is trying to make vaping illegal, vapers may be motivated to join the Leave Us Alone Coalition.
He also explained how policies can impede the growth of the Takings Coalition. As government funding is reduced and taxes are lowered, the Left struggles with its coalition.
The 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, for example, changed how funding and collective bargaining with unions works in Wisconsin. In particular, the bill allows workers to opt out of the union. Norquist argued that the law was “one of the major reasons that the state went red.”
Tyler Tate (COL‘20), Freshman Representative of GUCR, found Norquist’s explanation particularly compelling.
“I have never heard the model Grover proposed in the way he did,” Tate said. “I don’t think it is the conventional view among Republicans just yet, although it is the most compelling view.”
Norquist also shared his support for the flat tax. He distinguished it from a progressive tax that Democrats often use to target specific income groups.
“Flat taxes are always lower because they are harder to raise since they affect everyone,” he said.
At Tuesday’s event, Norquist outlined a clear path to Republican success: limit the tax-collecting powers of the Left and attract new members to the Leave Us Alone coalition.