Monday, March 10, 2008


By: Ronald Kessler

John McCain is likely to win the presidential election because he is appealing directly to a growing coalition of those who want the government to do less for them, political guru Grover Norquist tells Newsmax.

"This election is turning out to present a very classic choice between those who want to be left alone by government and those who want government to do more and take more," Norquist says. "McCain is speaking as a leave-us-alone guy and is articulating the threat of spending more clearly than any president did since Ronald Reagan in 1976."

Norquist is one of the country's pre-eminent political analysts. As president of Americans for Tax Reform, he runs the so-called Wednesday meetings, where 150 leaders from the White House, Congress, and conservative interest groups converge to exchange information, listen to presentations by presidential and congressional candidates, and plot strategy.

Norquist's book, "Leave Us Alone: Getting the Government's Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives," is being published this week.

As part of the book promotion, Norquist will be on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" on Tuesday evening.

The book articulates the difference between what Norquist calls the "Leave us Alone Coalition," which is basically the Republican Party, and the "Takings Coalition," which Norquist describes as being at the heart of the tax-and-spend left.

"The modern center-right political movement is a movement of different groups and individuals who want to be left alone," Norquist says. "Gun owners want to be left alone with their guns, business guys with their business, taxpayers with their money, religious people with their faith and their kids.

The left's coalition, which is the Takings Coalition, are people who view the proper role of government as taking things from some people and giving them to others."

Conservative Movement to Strengthen

Contrary to Newsweek's recent claim that the conservative movement has "crumbled," Norquist writes that if "present trends continue, the center-right coalition will grow and strengthen while the left's strength ebbs."

Laced with political wisdom and buttressed by tables and graphs, the book traces trends that have helped or hurt each coalition and how they will affect the outcome of the 2008 election.

"The growth in the number of Americans who are in the stock market helps conservatives," Norquist says. "The decline of organized labor's membership helps conservatives. The decline in the number of hunters helps the liberals. The increase in the self-employed helps conservatives.

Conservatives have more children than liberals do."
While those in each coalition rarely agree with each other on every issue, they all agree on the paramount issue of whether they want government to do more or less for them.

"The guy who wants to be left alone with his guns, the guy who wants to go to church all day, the guy who wants to make money all day, they don't agree on everything," Norquist says.

"They're not friends. They don't have tea together. But they all vote for the same candidate."

While the Leave Us Alone Coalition aims to help people become self-reliant, the Takings Coalition relies on making people dependent for its support.

"Ours is a low-maintenance coalition," Norquist says. "We don't have to give anyone anything other than good government, including a national defense, law enforcement, and a court system. What the Democrats have to do is create supplicants and victims. They want people to say, 'Please give me stuff, thank you.'"

According to Norquist, that's why the Democrats are so opposed to offering personal retirement accounts as part of Social Security, which would give everyone the opportunity more highly paid workers have to invest in 401(k) retirement accounts.

"Privatizing Social Security is the end of the modern Democratic Party,"

Norquist says. "You cannot have the party based on envy and class division and stealing money from one group to give to another group, if every 18-year-old can afford to retire with half a million dollars in the bank."

Democrats Want More Tort Law

Many people are liberals because they "think that if the government passes a law that says we will now help poor people, that somehow you'd help poor people," Norquist says.

"That the minimum wage law is somehow helping poor people instead of making it impossible to hire more of them because businesses can't afford to do so. But some, like government workers and trial lawyers, are the beneficiaries of statism.

Trial lawyers who contribute millions of dollars to the Democratic Party know exactly the damage that tort law does to the economy. They're just beneficiaries of it, so they don't care about the damage."

As an example of how beholden Democrats are to trial lawyers, the House Democratic leadership decided to go on vacation and allow the Protect America Act, which is essential to allowing quick interception of terrorist communications, to lapse for more than three weeks rather than vote on giving telecommunications companies immunity for helping to track terrorist threats.

"They could say no to intercepting the terrorists' calls; they couldn't say no to the trial lawyers," Norquist says.
Norquist, 51, is his generation's William F. Buckley.

A graduate of Harvard and Harvard School of Business administration, he is erudite and has a sharp wit. While his Wednesday meetings are off the record, Norquist and his wife Samah hold even more hush-hush events ranging from Christmas parties to receptions for conservative think tanks from each state at their home on Capitol Hill.

Conservative writers like Robert Novak and John Fund and political figures like Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove are regulars.

Like Buckley, Norquist welcomes an occasional liberal to his parties and invites them to speak at the Wednesday meetings.
Norquist says the good news for Republicans is that during the primaries, each Republican candidate was eager to position himself squarely as a conservative appealing to the Leave Us Alone Coalition.

"The fighting that you saw was each candidate pointing at the other candidate and saying that candidate wasn't with the Leave Us Alone Coalition three years ago or five years ago on this issue or that issue," Norquist says. "No one stood up and said he wants to be with the tax increasing, property rights violating, anti-home school, pro-spending wing of the party, as happened when Nelson Rockefeller ran for president."

The Democratic candidates have been just as solidly aligned with their interest groups - the trial lawyers, government workers, and labor unions, Norquist says.

At the same time, he says, the Republican message is likely to attract a lot of independents.

"I believe that properly done, the Republican Leave Us Alone Coalition speaks to an awful lot of independents and will win more independents,"

Norquist says. "The Democrat who stands up and says I can give the trial lawyers everything they want and the labor unions everything they want and spend a lot of money is going to not attract a lot of independents.

The Republican Party that says, as McCain has done, 'I will never raise your taxes' places him dead center of the Leave Us Alone Coalition in a way that is attractive to the muddled middle. These are the independents and the people who decide late."

End the Earmarks

The fact that McCain has said he will veto any bill with earmarks for pork barrel spending is also a good sign, Norquist says.

"There are three parties in Washington, and two need to be defeated," Norquist says. "We need to defeat the Democrats and the appropriators.

President Bush didn't understand who the enemy was. Half of the people who walked in to talk to him had Rs on their jerseys, but they were appropriators, not Republicans. It's hard to say 'heck no' to guys who are voting with you on other issues.

"The guys in Alaska who spend all that money on bridges to nowhere also vote with the president on foreign policy issues. So you've got to be able to say, 'Thank you very much for your foreign policy support, you still can't have your bridge.'"

Ronald Reagan showed that "when you stand dead center of the Leave Us Alone Coalition and articulate what you're doing clearly, you win 60 percent of the vote," Norquist says.

"It's when you break up the Leave Us Alone Coalition or abandon parts of it, as President George H.W. Bush did in 1990, that you can end up being in trouble."

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