As a taxpayer activist and longtime friend of Grover
Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, I have a standing
invitation to attend what has been called the most important meeting in
Washington — the monthly Wednesday meetings of conservative Capitol Hill
aides and center-right "Leave Us Alone Coalition" representatives held
in Grover's offices.
I don't get to Washington much and have attended only one Wednesday
meeting. But that's OK. Grover has organized monthly meetings of the
coalition in 44 states as well, and Citizens for Limited Taxation's
associate director, Chip Faulkner, runs one of the largest of them for
Massachusetts leave-us-aloners. Here we meet on a Friday, in what is
named the Friday Morning Group. Invited organization leaders/members and
independent activists get together for two hours to hear one main
speaker and to keep each other informed about issues. Staffers of
supportive legislators are also invited.
In general, the center-right coalition is made up of taxpayer groups,
small businesses, supporters of the Second Amendment, home-schoolers,
property rights activists, communities of faith and activists for
parental rights. We do not always agree on specific issues, but we share
a conviction that government should leave us alone as long as we leave
other people alone, except to defend ourselves.
Our common opponents are what Grover calls the "Takings Coalition" —
statist politicians, labor union leaders, trial lawyers, and many
recipients of government grants — that wants to substitute its intrusive
laws for our freedom to do what we want, then make us fund its agenda
through our taxes. We are, most of us, gentle revolutionaries; and
despite the differences on some social issues, we get along well.
There is general agreement on tax limitation, since our taxes are what
fund the various government activities of which our various groups
Sixty-three of us attended the May Friday Morning Group meeting at which
Grover spoke about his new book, "Leave us Alone." His first book, "Rock
the House," was about the Gingrich Revolution of 1994, which he helped
orchestrate. This year he is working to rock the national election to
begin the restoration of the Reagan Revolution. And in this weird
election climate, who knows what will happen in November?
Revolution is always a matter of timing, and here in Massachusetts, both
Ronald Reagan and Proposition 2½ won in 1980. This year John McCain
could win, and Carla Howell, who also addressed the meeting, is getting
her second round of signatures now to place her income tax-repeal
initiative on the ballot.
During his presentation, Grover was asked about John McCain, with whom
some leave-us-aloners are uncomfortable. He praised the Arizona senator
and presumptive Republican presidential candidate for his consistent
opposition to Washington's spending excesses, including a courageous
opposition to ethanol subsidies.
He identified the Barack Obama campaign as a simple, feel-good fantasy
about an unknown candidate. Whimsically, he explained an evolving voter
In the beginning, Grover said, many voters wanted to show they were
"post-racial" and therefore "good people" by liking Obama But this
changed with the San Francisco speech about bitter, religious gun
lovers. Clearly, Grover asserted, "if he (Obama) doesn't like you, you
can now safely say, 'Well, I don't like you either" and proceed to
investigate his experience for the job and his position on the issues.
When I asked about the trade deficit with China, Grover made his ongoing
point about issues that move voters by not answering my question. People
talk about many issues, and get worked up about some of them, he
explained, but in the end they vote on only a few that are very
important to them like taxes, guns, and the direct economy.
The other issues, he reminds us, should not divide our coalition; if we
are lucky enough to live in an initiative-petition state like
Massachusetts, we can put those other issues on the ballot and let
voters address them directly. Of course, we can put the voter-important
issues on the ballot too.
When Grover was executive director of the National Taxpayers Union, he
got his organization to pay for Chip Faulkner's position as CLT field
director during the Proposition 2½ campaign. Now Americans for Tax
Reform contributes to the taxpayer battle in this state and keeps us in
touch with other taxpayer groups.
Many copies of "Leave Us Alone" were sold after the meeting. The final
chapter lists "The Five Great Reforms" required to advance, or return
to, freedom and personal responsibility in America. They are:
1.) Make all pensions individually owned and portable;
2.) Make health insurance individually owned and control costs
3.) Give parents real choice in education;
4.) Competitive sourcing; no government monopolies; and
5.) Transparency — putting all government spending and contracts
online for voters to see.
Not so coincidentally, all these reforms would need to be addressed here
if the income tax repeal passes; and in fact, transparency is a major
issue in Carla Howell's campaign. Voters who want to make informed
decisions this fall at both the state and national levels should read
"Leave Us Alone" this summer, and decide if they want to become part of
a new American revolution instead of sorry enablers of the government
Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens
for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and
Eagle Tribune, and often in the Newburyport Times, Gloucester Times, and
Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the
Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.