And I'm the one who will not raise taxes. My opponent now says he'll raise them as a last resort, or a third resort. But when a politician talks like that, you know that's one resort he'll be checking into. My opponent won't rule out raising taxes. But I will. And the Congress will push me to raise taxes and I'll say no. And they'll push, and I'll say no, and they'll push again, and I'll say, to them, ‘Read my lips: no new taxes.’One of the most famous quotes in modern political discourse helped propel George Bush to the Presidency that year of Michael Dukakis.
-George Bush, Republican National Convention, August 18, 1988
But in 1990 as part of the Budget Agreement Bush did in fact raise taxes to help meet a rising budget deficit.
In 1992, Pat Buchanan challenged Bush on his Conservative credentials primarily based on his breaking this pledge. George Bush lost the 1992 election to Bill Clinton and the GOP has lost the popular vote in the Presidential Election, except one, since then.
The moment Bush made the pledge he made it a policy mantra for the GOP, and in 1992 the no-tax purists put the teeth on it. They have not been able to escape it ever since.
Grover Norquist, as we all know, is the Godfather of the no-new taxes religion, and he basically forced Bush's hand in 1988. Bush had originally balked at signing the pledge, but eventually acquiesced and then on a National Stage, when he was the Party's presumptive leader in waiting, he basically made no new taxes a cornerstone of the GOP. Before then, taxes were certainly something the GOP disliked, but it was more of a suggestion than a rule. Reagan raised taxes many times over his eight years.
But Bush had to break his pledge, because he was the President and he needed to think about the welfare of the country and not of the party. And he paid for it. The Democrats, naturally, chided him as being untrustworthy. But it was the Conservatives who really hammered Bush, primarily Pat Buchanan, especially in New Hampshire, where he got 40% of the vote.
Of course Bush won the nomination, but Buchanan had made his point and he created such a distaste for the President that Ross Perot entered the race, unsuccessfully, of course, but giving dissatisfied Conservatives a place to vote. And it did something else. It gave a voice to Pat Buchanan who gave a famously disgusting speech at that same convention in 1992:
The presidency is also America’s bully pulpit, what Mr Truman called, “preeminently a place of moral leadership.” George Bush is a defender of right-to-life, and lifelong champion of the Judeo-Christian values and beliefs upon which this nation was built.
Yet a militant leader of the homosexual rights movement could rise at that convention and exult: “Bill Clinton and Al Gore represent the most pro-lesbian and pro-gay ticket in history.” And so they do.
Friends, this is radical feminism. The agenda Clinton & Clinton would impose on America–abortion on demand, a litmus test for the Supreme Court, homosexual rights, discrimination against religious schools, women in combat–that’s change, all right. But it is not the kind of change America wants. It is not the kind of change America needs. And it is not the kind of change we can tolerate in a nation that we still call God’s country.
There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself.And so the die was set for the GOP, they would be the no-taxes party defending the Judeo-Christian values in America. The fact that in 1994 they won a large majority in the House coalesced the formula in their minds. But there culture and class politics are inevitably becoming the ways of the past.
It is a losing formula on the national stage. Starting in 1992 the Dems have won 4 of 6 Presidential Elections and gotten he majority of the vote in a fifth. They have gotten 52% of the vote between the two parties and 21 million more votes, over 3.5 million per election.
The House is going to be a problem for at least another decade, there are of course regions where the GOP can dominate. And past performance is no guarantee of future results. But the past performance is clear, the GOP has had a losing Presidential formula and there is little hope of it changing.
All because of 6 little words..
UPDATE: Well, I go to bed, and suddenly this is in the Community Spotlight...cool! I should clarify, of course the GOP is not dead, but I do think they are practically dead for Presidential politics as they currently stand. They cannot escape their primaries and the purity concern that goes on there. Now clearly elections hinge on many things. A terrible economy in 2016 would probably bode well for the GOP. But in my mind the GOP ceased being a serious party, a proper opposition party, when they allowed the Pat Buchanan's and Grover Norquist's to set their agenda. IN a National election based on ideas and policy they are dead.