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Grover Norquist

Activist

Born: 19 October 1956
Birthplace: Sharon, Pennsylvania
Best known as:

 

The lobbyist who initiated the GOP's anti-tax pledge

 

Grover Norquist is an American political activist known for his ability to get elected leaders of the Republican Party to pledge to a strict anti-tax ideology that has dominated conservative politics since the late 1980s. Norquist grew up in Massachusetts and graduated from Harvard in 1978. He immediately went to work in Washington, D.C. as a gofer for the National Taxpayers' Union, but a year later he returned to Harvard to work on a graduate degree in business. He worked on the presidential campaign of Ronald Reagan in 1980, finished his business degree in 1981, then went back to Washington to be a hotshot in the College Republican National Committee, along with Ralph Reed and Jack Abramoff. Norquist proved himself to be a quotable spokesperson for the anti-tax crowd, and in 1985 he formed the lobbying group Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) to push legislation through Congress. Norquist and the ATR worked to get a majority of Republican legislators to sign a pledge "to oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes." A successful tool during election season, the pledge helped the careers of Republican politicians, making Norquist a darling of the conservative movement. Norquist's political leverage helped him overcome a minor setback after the attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001 -- his friendly ties to Muslim Americans were, for a time, not in step with the views of conservative Americans. Norquist and the ATR bounced back, however, and continued to gather Republican support for their anti-tax pledge, from both legislators and presidential hopefuls, throughout the 1990s and 2000s. Norquist is famous for saying he wanted to make government "small enough to drown in a bathtub." In practice, drowning the government proved to be far more complicated, and after the re-election of President Barack Obama in 2012, many leading Republicans rejected Norquist's ideology as impractical and politically risky.

 

Extra credit:

 

In the mid-1990s, Grover Norquist involved himself in the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, whose aim was to put a publicly-funded memorial for President Reagan in "one place in every county" of the United States… Grover Norquist married Samah Alrayyea, a Palestinian Muslim, in 2005.

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More on Grover Norquist from Infoplease:

  • Grover Norquist - Biography of Grover Norquist, The lobbyist who initiated the GOP's anti-tax pledge
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  • Ralph Reed - Biography of Ralph Reed, The executive director of the Christian Coalition, 1989-97
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