Today’s Globe Magazine covers one man who has profoundly changed America. The Bay State’s son, Grover Norquist, has convinced so many American leaders that no matter how much pollution poisons our air & water, no matter how many bridges are unsafe, no matter how many schools run out of money, no matter how many fires rage as firehouses are closed–taxes must not be raised. Especially on the 1% who have so much. I could write a post pointing out every ill effect of Norquist’s focus on his idea of never raising taxes, but Governor Deval Patrick already did. And Patrick’s position rises not from his ideology but from the wisdom of experience in the real world. The Governor has known what it is like to live with and without money. He’s seen what life is like where government really is small–Darfur–and where government can actually provide services that make life better (Massachusetts), and he has a grown-up attitude toward taxes: they are what we pay to live in civilization.
But the dominant idea in America these days belongs to Grover, who invented this no-tax pledge at age 12 and lobbied for it ever since. Even in his elementary school years, Grover Norquist practiced persuasion and lobbying, but there’s only so much speechifying one’s classmates can take. So…
[Grover] loved nothing better than to leave his home in the affluent west-of-Boston community of Weston and start walking, along the hilly block of handsome houses, through the woods dense with vines and thick with pines, and finally up a rocky ledge. There, the precocious boy who had so much to say would find a receptive audience… The ledge led to a cliff overlooking a pig farm, which sat just over the town line in Waltham. Grover learned that simply by standing on the cliff and speaking clearly and confidently, he would attract the notice of the pigs that were fenced in on a muddy, rooted-up plateau 30 feet below him. So he would give speeches of all types. As the words left his lips, 40 or so of the swine would give him their rapt attention. “They’d come listen to you,” he recalls. “I liked that.”
Now that’s a telling story about Grover. He was happy that those pigs listened to him. But the ultimate reality for pigs is that they get led up a ramp and cut into pieces for someone higher up the food chain.
If Americans keep listening to Grover, we will share the fate of those pigs.