Tonight on 60 minutes, there was a section of the show dedicated to a man named Grover Norquist, president of the taxpayer advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform.
The section focused on Norquist’s control over and domination of the Republican Party and his subsequent power over of congressional policy, most specifically tax reform. As most probably know, tax reform is a particularly important issue due to our current debt crisis and economic problems. That’s what, in my opinion, made what I watched so hard to hear.
Here is a link of what I watched: 60 Minutes with Grover Norquist. It’s 13:32 long, but I promise it is worth watching.
As you see in the video, Norquist’s advocacy group has created a strangle hold on a significant portion of the American political system, causing bipartisanship agreement on our country’s most critical issue—taxes—impossible to reach. Norquist, who essentially vows to dispose all his resources against any congressman who violates his “pledge”, ignores the interests of the country by solely promoting those of corporations and wealthy individuals.
To me, this is not only class warfare but also a violation of public trust and government accountability. To let one individual intimidate and control those individuals that set our public policy destroys the credibility of governing institutions and their ability to promote the betterment of all citizens. Effectively, Norquist coerces politicians into being unable to raise taxes. In our current economic state and with the status of our nation’s debt, raising taxes—while not the only way to raise revenue—must be undertaken in order to solve our nation’s debt problems. I do not believe that the government should exclusively raise taxes; I believe that there should be a balance between it and cutting government expenditures—this is more equitable and less detrimental to our economy.
In class, we have discussed the theories of Marx and Engels, who asserted in their Communist Manifesto “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” They went so far as to illustrate these struggles as the domination of society’s lower and working classes by its upper classes. Over time, there were evolutions. At first, it was landowners; then, it was the bourgeoisie and merchant elite. I believe that lobbyists and advocacy groups that have come to assert so much influence over our political process represents an addition to the bourgeoisie group—one that made them even more powerful over the lower and working classes they dominate.
These, of course, are all my opinions. But I don’t believe that you can watch the scene I posted and not feel at least some level of disgust with the motives of those who have so much power over something so important. Ultimately, something must be done to fix the system, but what can we do?