Speculation continues to mount regarding who will ultimately get the nod as the vice presidential candidate on presumptive Republican Party nominee Mitt Romney’s ticket. While Romney’s pick for a running mate is a logical cause for curiosity, the name of the ultimate occupant may not be as important during the campaign as the names of some other Republicans.
One would find it rather easy to make a case for two lifelong Republican Party operatives who, despite a prior record of successes, have waited their whole careers to be in the positions in which they find themselves. I am speaking of Karl Rove, formerly a key functionary in the Bush White House and late of the “super PAC” American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, and Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform founder and president.
If the reader follows modern day political campaigns at all he/she would undoubtedly be aware of the prominent role of political “handlers,” those individuals who have learned the intricacies of the game of politics. They know how to get the numbers, how to interpret the numbers and how to form the strategies that flow from their analysis. Those who work directly with a candidate must live and die with that candidate. Karl Rove has been in that role in the past, but the explosion of modern media methods and the significant changes in campaign finance laws have, in essence, set him free from the necessity of taking direction from a candidate or even the Republican Party itself for that matter. The fact that Karl Rove is free to pursue his ideological goals as well as those of the Republican Party over the long haul and that he will have upwards of $300 million to do it with is no doubt a dream come true for Rove.
Rove’s stable mate Grover Norquist has arguably become the most important and effective controller of Republican Party policy in the country. That says a great deal given that Norquist is neither a member of Congress nor has he ever run for public office. Norquist is the author and promoter of the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge.” The pledge to never ever raise taxes of any kind, or to eliminate loopholes that would cause one’s tax bill to rise, has been signed by 95 percent of all Republican Congressmen and all but one of the candidates who ran for the GOP Presidential nomination.
Backed by the almost unanimous popularity of the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” Norquist can be confident when he makes his famous statement that his and his followers’ goal is to: “Shrink government until it is small enough to drown it in the bathtub.” Only recently, Norquist is quoted as stating that it is their intent to “prevent Democrats from governing like Democrats.” So far he has been able to back up that statement.
So now in the 2012 Presidential election campaign the efforts of longtime collaborators Karl Rove, the political strategist, and Grover Norquist, the arch enemy of taxes and of big government, are coming together nicely. The big thing that both of these GOP zealots have in common is their desire for a decades-long run with the Republicans as the majority party. The long era of domination by the Roosevelt Democrats is never far from their minds or their rhetoric.
Such Republican dominance reaches beyond any one candidate or one election. The 2012 election, however, represents the first opportunity for Rove to put his turnout model in play with sufficient funds that he alone controls in an effort to sweep the House and Senate majorities as well as the Presidency. By the same token, one only need review the newscasts following the Supreme Court ruling on the “Affordable Care Act” to see how well Grover Norquist is positioned on his “no tax” strategy. The fact is that few commentators from either party would dare say the word “tax.” Many on the Republican side were obviously terrified of the subject, and stumped as to how to react to their own candidate’s confusion on the issue.
Heading into the fall, Karl Rove must hope for three things. First, the Republicans must hold the House where they now enjoy a nearly 50-seat majority. Second, Rove and the Republicans must erase a 51 to 47 Democratic majority in the Senate. No doubt Rove’s eyes light up when he sees 23 Democratic seats up for grabs, compared to only 10 seats exposed on the Republican side. Finally, Rove must grab the Presidency so that Obama vetoes can pose no threat to the GOP agenda.
If such a scenario were to materialize, Grover Norquist, with his brief case of signed GOP pledges to never raise taxes would be in “hog heaven.” The no tax pledge is undoubtedly the central pillar of the Republican platform. If his longtime ideological buddy, Karl Rove, can deliver the majorities, Grover Norquist has proven that he can make the government shrinking tax policy stick.
If things were to work his way public life will change in ways that it has not done since the early days of the administration of Franklin Roosevelt.