The 2012 presidential election has been a time of momentous and historic changes in American politics. For the first time the Republican voter suppression tactics boomeranged, with millions of those targeted turning out to exercise their votes – taking 'revenge' by voting, as Obama had suggested they do. And the narrow Republican electoral foundation (older, whiter, more southerly) proved inadequate to overcome the growing diversity of America's electoral population.
But one other thing has happened in this election, which is enormously significant.
The Bathtub Drowner meets his Comeuppance:
A man who once threatened to 'starve the beast' of federal government, and cut off its revenues so much that it was weakened enough for him to drag it into the bathtub and drown it, has found his own empire of negativism declining.
One of the most influential people in American politics in the past decade is a man who singlehandedly corralled the Republicans into signing an agreement which dictates how they behave in Congress. With cult-like devotion, most Republican candidates and members of Congress lined up to sign the TPP – the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. The TPP requires signatories to oppose increases in marginal income tax rates for individuals and businesses, and to oppose net reductions of tax deductions or credits (the Romney zombie economics proposal) unless there are matching reduced tax rates.
Norquist and the Teaparty Exoskeleton
He is an interesting man, with unexpected facets:
He has long been active in building bridges between various ethnic and religious minorities and the free-market community through his co-founding of the Islamic Free Market Institute, and his involvement with Acton Institute, Christian Coalition and Toward Tradition.
In 2010, Norquist, whose wife was born into a Muslim family, emerged as an outspoken Republican foe of politicizing the mosque-in-Manhattan issue, calling it a "distraction".
He has also "announced his plan to assemble a center-right coalition to discuss pulling out of Afghanistan to save hundreds of billions of dollars."
Norquist is active in Tea Party politics. Talking at a Florida rally he said "tea party groups should serve as the 'exoskeleton' that protects newly elected Republicans" from pressures to increase government spending.
But now his hold on the public space has been diminished.
The Pact Faileth:
Republican candidates are putting country before the Norquist cult for the first time:
Republicans might have held the House, but Grover Norquist’s majority in Congress is all but gone.
Fewer incoming members of the House and Senate have signed the pledge against tax increases run by Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, in a reflection not only of the seats that Democrats gained but of the success they’ve enjoyed in vilifying Norquist.
About a dozen newly elected House Republicans refused to sign the anti-tax pledge during their campaigns, and another handful of returning Republicans have disavowed their allegiance to the written commitment.
And the result is a loss of the Grover Majority:
With Democrats picking up seven or eight seats, that means the pledge guides fewer than the 218 members needed for a majority. In the Senate, where Republicans lost two seats, just 39 members of the chamber are pledge-signers, according to the group’s records. That is a drop from 238 members of the House and 41 senators who committed to the pledge at the start of the 112th Congress.
Good news for America.