The new political movement that now controls much of the Republican party is a coalition of Americans who simply wish to be left alone by the government. They want to be free to run a business, keep the money they earn, own a gun, practice their faith, and perhaps homeschool their children—in short, to control their own destinies. Directly opposed is the descriptively titled Takings Coalition, which is at the heart of the tax-and-spend left. These forces will battle for control of America's future over the next fifty years.
In this compelling and powerful narrative, Grover Norquist describes the two competing coalitions in American politics, what they can achieve and what they cannot do, and how you may fit into the contest. Required reading for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of politics in America today, Leave Us Alone outlines the order of battle for the next generation.
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About the Author
Grover Norquist is president of the taxpayer advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform, which was founded in 1985 at President Reagan's request. He chairs the "Wednesday Meeting," a weekly gathering of more than 120 elected officials and political activists, and he serves on the board of directors for both the American Conservative Union and the National Rifle Association. Voted one of the fifty most powerful people in Washington, D.C., by GQ magazine in 2007, Norquist, his wife, Samah, and their daughter, Grace, live in Washington, D.C.
Read an Excerpt
Leave Us Alone
Getting the Government's Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives
The Leave Us Alone Coalition
What is today's center-right movement? What are the building blocks of the modern conservative movement that engulfs and buttresses the Republican Party, reinvented and restructured by the Reagan revolution? How has this movement grown and how is it held together? How is it able to vie for political power in America?
The center-right movement, the political movement created out of the defeated minority Republican Party of midcentury and sculpted by Ronald Reagan's political leadership and lifetime, is a coalition of groups and individuals that have one thing in common. They do not want the government to give them something. Or take something from others. On the key issue that motivates their vote, they want one simple thing from the government: They just want to be left alone.
They are taxpayers who want lower taxes. Businessmen and women, entrepreneurs, investors who wish to run their own affairs without being regulated and taxed out of existence. Property owners who do not wished to be taxed out of their homes or property. Gun owners protective of their Second Amendment rights. Homeschoolers who are willing to spend the time and energy to educate their own children, asking only that the government leave them alone. Conservative Catholics, evangelical Protestants, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and Mormons, all members of the various communities of faith who wish to be left alone to practice their faith and pass it on to their children.
This movement is not simply a collection of unrelated interestgroups in a marriage of convenience.
Pollsters can cajole citizens into answering twenty questions about twenty issues. But what matters in politics is the one issue that moves a citizen to vote for or against a candidate. The Leave Us Alone Coalition is brought together by many issues. Its members do not necessarily agree on some manifesto or confession of belief. There is no checklist where all members must agree on twenty articles of faith. Or ten. Or two. They find themselves shoulder to shoulder working together for the same candidates and over time the same party because on the issue that moves each of their individual votes—not necessarily on all or even most issues—what they want from the government is to be left alone.
Who are the members and leaders of the Leave Us Alone Coalition?
First and foremost they are taxpayers, those Americans whose primary vote-moving issue is keeping their taxes low. They believe the paychecks they earn belong to them. They react strongly to all efforts to raise their taxes. They have flowing in their veins the blood of the Sons of Liberty who created the American Revolution in response to direct taxation by the British Crown. More recently they reacted strongly to Democrat Walter Mondale's promise (threat) in 1984 that he would raise their taxes and to Republican President George H. W. Bush's breaking of his no-tax-hike pledge in 1990. In California in the 1970s, men like Howard Jarvis and Paul Gann and Lew Uhler led the fight against rising property taxes and ran Proposition 1 in 1970 and then Proposition 13 in 1978, which ignited the nationwide taxpayer revolt that swept Ronald Reagan into the presidency.
In 1980, Barbara Anderson led the taxpayer movement in unlikely Massachusetts that saw "Proposition 2½" passed by Bay State voters on the same night the state voted for Reagan. She remembers her Democrat parents, who owned a mom-and-pop hardware store, complaining about taxes and the arrogance of government in the same sentence. As a navy officer's wife, she saw federal government waste up close. As a young mother, she read about state and local government mismanagement while struggling to pay state and local taxes. Her second husband, who worked long hours of blue-collar overtime, described a proposed state graduated income tax as "the one where the harder you work the more they steal from you."
Then, in 1974, she heard a local official say about another property-tax increase: "Get used to it, folks; they're going up every year." She joined Citizens for Limited Taxation (CLT) as a volunteer that week, in rebellion against that attitude even more than the taxes themselves. She collected 4,800 signatures for a constitutional amendment initiative for tax limitation in Massachusetts.
She joined the staff of CLT in 1978. She later became the executive director on July 1, 1980, and ran the successful campaign for Proposition 2½, which cut property taxes in Massachusetts to 2.5 percent of fair market value, limited levy increases to 2.5 percent a year, and required a vote of the people in any town or city to raise additional property taxes over the limit. Proposition 2½ is a law, unlike California's famous Proposition 13, which is a constitutional amendment, but Barbara Anderson's force of personality and organized taxpayer movement have largely kept the legislature and several governors from messing with it.
Other Americans enter the taxpayer movement after having viewed the spending side of government and wondering if what we pay for is actually a net positive.
Jeff Ballabon, a New York-born young professional and now a conservative leader, was raised in a family that was generally supportive of the idea of a comforting welfare state. His personal turning point came when he was a young congressional staffer working for moderate John Danforth of Missouri. He attended a meeting on welfare reform and expressed what he thought was a commonsense observation that job training might help welfare recipients move from dependence to lives as independent actors able to provide for themselves and their families.
The room of largely Democrat staffers and welfare-rights activist organizers turned on him. Someone shouted, "You are stigmatizing nonwork." There was cursing and more shouting. Jeff and his heretical ideas were asked to leave the room.
"Walking back to the office and assimilating what I'd witnessed," Jeff recounts, "it became clear to me how their policies were focused entirely on maintaining political power over an enslaved class of the neediest people, destroying generations of Americans by enforced dependence. I was depressed, then angry, and finally determined to focus on freeing people from government ownership.Leave Us Alone
Getting the Government's Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives. Copyright © by Grover Norquist. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Mr Norquist is the founder of the 'Americans for Tax Reform' organization. I initially didn't think this book would be that interesting, but I couldn't put it down. It gives one hope for the future of America, in that as more and more people are seeing that 'democrat'='fascist', (my word, not his), they will be joining the 'Leave Us Alone Coalition'. This will be the conservative movement of the future, involving anyone from people who just want lower taxes, to homeschoolers, gun owners, property owners, people who have 401ks, etc. Basically, anyone who wants the government out of their lives and pockets. He contrasts this with the 'Taking Coalition'- trial lawyers, big unions, the democratic party, basically anyone who wants a European style nanny government. He presents concrete, proven methods for reducing taxes and big government, and does it in an interesting and easy to read mannor. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in where this country may be heading in the next few years politically.
I thibk he did.... so.....
I really do wonder if it will do me some good
"leave us alone" is a very remarkable book that shows how the american goverment is over taxing and over spending the american people and is constantly trying to trespass into our private lifes like steping on to the second amendment and the abridment of free speech whean it doesnt agee with there politics. I really found this bestseller to show how Ican make a difference and I think this book will make a win in the 2012 election .