Elections 2000 --- The Leave Us Alone vs. the Takings Coalition

Grover G. Norquist, MD


There are two competing coalitions in American politics today that are organized around how one views the relationship between the individual and the state.

In the past, the Republican and Democrat parties had within them a broad ideological range. Regional differences --- North vs. South --- and religious and immigrant status had a great deal to say about whether one viewed himself as a Republican or Democrat. The Roosevelt coalition held together in the Democrat party a solid South with ethnic immigrants and Catholics in northern cities.

But starting in the 1970s, the two parties and the liberal and conservative coalitions that surround them began to separate out along lines of policy rather than region or ethnicity.

The Reagan Republican party and conservative movement can best be understood as a coalition of individuals and groups that --- on the issue that brings them to politics --- want the federal government to leave them alone.

The "Leave us Alone" coalition includes taxpayers who want the government to reduce the tax burden, property owners, farmers, and homeowners who want their property rights respected, gunowners who want the government to leave them and their guns alone, homeschoolers who wish to educate their own children as they see fit, traditional values conservatives who don't want the government throwing condoms at their children and making fun of their religious values.

The Leave us Alone coalition also includes those Americans who serve in the military and police as they are the legitimate functions of government that protect Americans' right to be left alone by foreign agressors or domestic criminals.

The modern American left is a "Takings Coalition," a coalition of groups and individuals who view the proper role of government as taking things from one group and giving to another. This often is in the form of money. And the recipients of others money are usually the leaders of the "Takings Coalition."

The Takings coalition consists of the Trial Lawyers, the corrupt Big City Machines, the Labor Union Bosses and the two wings of the Dependency Movement --- those who remain trapped in dependency and those who make $80,000 a year managing the dependency of others and making sure they don't get jobs and become Republicans. They are joined by the various coercive Utopians who want to reorganize society through force to make us stop wearing leather or driving sport utility vehicles or owning large toilets or otherwise run our lives as they see fit.

The Left puts forward the fiction that the Right want to force their morality on others. However, the homeschooler movement does not demand that homeschoolers be recognized as an alternative lifestyle. Gunowners do not insist that schools teach ten year olds books entitled "Heather has Two Hunters."

The good news for friends of liberty is that the "Leave us Alone" coalition is growing. In 1965, only 10 percent of Americans owned shares of stock, in 1980 it was only 20 percent, today 50 percent of Americans own stock in IRAs, 401Ks, and mutual funds. As more and more Americans own shares of stock the politics of hate and envy becomes more difficult. In 1965, a politician could say, "I will steal money from corporations and give it to you," and 90 percent of the people in the room might think this a good idea and only 10 percent would clearly see that they would be paying for this government largesse. Today, the same politician's bluster would find fully half of this audience reacting: "Hey, that is my retirement income you are looting."

As more and more Americans own shares of stock, the idea of reforming Social Security to allow Americans to invest some of their FICA taxes is winning popular support unimaginable only a few years ago.

Americans also want the death tax repealed and the Republicans in the House and Senate --- with some Democrat support --- have just voted to phase out the death tax.

More and more Americans are homeschooling. Increasing numbers of minority parents want to have school choice to send their children to private, religious or parochial schools. They want to be left alone to raise their own children.

More and more Americans are starting small businesses and becoming self-employed, working from home. They are all likely recruits for the Leave us Alone coalition.

The 2000 election will tell us the relative strength of the "Leave us Alone" coalition vs. the "Takings Coalition."

Mr. Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform, http://www.atr.org.

Originally published in the Medical Sentinel 2000;5(6):209. Copyright ©2000 Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).