Texas Rep. Chip Roy and Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), spoke at a debate hosted by the Daily Caller News Foundation on Wednesday to discuss the future of the Republican Party.
Where Roy and Norquist disagreed, it was not so much on policy details, but on whether the Republican Party was on the right track, with the congressman warning that the GOP may not be able to afford failing to deliver without causing “massive rumblings” about the party’s future. Norquist sounded a more optimistic note, based on what he described as an increased stake that many Americans had in personal freedom.
Roy said that when he saw what came out of his taxes, he often wondered just what he was paying for.
“That bothers me, it’s a big check, but what really bothers me is what I get out of it,” Roy said. “I’m having to worry about taking my kids into Austin because now it is a dangerous place. I can’t send my kids to the public schools I am funding because they can’t pray, they’re being taught America is evil, they are getting absolutely indoctrinated about absolute nonsense by the social woke, social justice, you know climate change, all the stuff they’re trying to shove into our kids’ brains instead of loving America, reading, writing, and arithmetic.”
“I want to see government do what it’s supposed to do and not get in the way of the American people,” Roy said, emphasizing that Republicans “gassed it” in 2017 by not doing what they said they would do, including repealing portions of the Affordable Care Act. The House passed legislation repealing Obamacare, but it fell short in the Senate when John McCain, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski voted against the bill along all 48 Democratic Senators.
Derek Hunter, who moderated the debate, pointed out that since the Contract with America, a 1994 promise by candidates for the House of Representatives to bring ten measures to a vote in the first 100 days, Republicans have been “great in the abstract” but had often fallen short when in the majority and questioned Norquist as to whether there would be a push for a third party.
Norquist said that calls for a third party had been around since the 1930s, but that he’d been through “the cycle” multiple times, and that “several things have changed” since the 1994 election to the advantage of Republicans.
“We are so much better off than when the Republican Party was people born north of the Mason-Dixon Line,” Norquist said, adding that many of the groups that vote Republican do so on the basis of being “left alone” on their “vote-moving issue.”
“There are 21 and a half million Americans with a concealed carry permit,” Norquist said, adding that the number rose by 1.5 million despite the presence of 21 “constitutional carry” states. Norquist also cited the growth of homeschooling and the number of workers with 401(k) retirement plans.
“Every time you expand liberty, you give people a stake in it, you make it infinitely more difficult for the other team to take it away,” Norquist said, noting the backlash forming against measures targeting the “gig economy” and small businesses.
“These are people that are lost to the modern Democratic Party and available to the Republicans,” Norquist added.
At the end of the debate, Norquist predicted a Republican sweep that would be much bigger in state legislatures, governorships and other state-level races than in races for the House of Representatives and Senate.
Roy pointed out that even if the Republicans did well, they’d “have a sizable majority in the House, and okay majority in the Senate if we’re lucky – short of 60, and we don’t control the White House.” He added that Republicans needed to be bold about what they intend to do to “win the hearts of the American people.”
The first topic of conversation in the debate centered around the media landscape, propelled by the sudden resignation of CNN President Jeff Zucker on Wednesday. Norquist recounted a reunion which Zucker attended during the 1992 Los Angeles riots in which Zucker told the attendees, “My job … was to make sure nobody thought the riots had anything to do with the failure of the welfare state.”
Norquist noted that none of those in attendance, which included prominent journalists at the time, felt that Zucker’s comments were newsworthy or problematic.
“It’s the classic ‘Rules for thee but not for me,’” Roy said in response, adding that he felt frustrated by those who “preach” at Americans. “We act like this is new, it’s not,” the congressman added, “As mad as we get about the current media environment, Tucker [Carlson], and Neil [Patel], and Sean Davis started” alternative outlets like the Daily Caller and the Federalist.
“We’ve got all these different outlets where we can go get the truth,” Roy said, which existed despite censorship by Twitter, Facebook and other social media giants. Norquist agreed, pointing to efforts to restrict talk radio in the 1990s.
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