Looking at him all you see is one of those pasty, slightly bloated, bearded white dudes always angry as hell at the government, feminists, liberals and some arch-enemy personification of evil in his city or town, a public official about whom he writes excoriating letters to the editor of the local newspaper Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays every week.
Grover has been around a while. I don’t know if a city garbage truck crushed one of his pinky toes in the eleventh grade, and he has nurtured a vendetta against all things governmental since. But hating government has been his life’s work, in particular what he sees as the scourge of taxes, no matter how low they get or what they pay for. It’s as though at a tender age he was administered the same aversion therapy administered to an eyelid clamped Alex in Clockwork Orange, conditioned to wretch in disgust at the thought, idea of, or very word: taxes.
That image is slightly misleading though, the reality not particularly flattering to his character. He’s not some hardscrabble guy who worked his way up from the bottom and built a business, and feels put upon by all manner of social and cultural changes over time. No, he grew up filthy rich, his father a Vice-President at Polaroid. So his passion for feudalism and ideological class superiority is bred in the bones so to speak. “The rich are better, and leave their goddamn money alone, you dregs of humanity who want to get at it through the federal income tax.”
In a nutshell, he has operated a couple of influential anti-tax organizations over the last 25 years, has had his hands in all manner of ultra-right causes from supporting right-wing movements in Latin America to pimping for the Chamber of Commerce, to organizing the coordinated eight year coup attempt by the American right against President Clinton.
Much has been made of the anti-tax pledge Grover makes Republican candidates sign. Okay, he doesn’t really make them sign. He’s one of those Mr. Freedom guys who offers the candidates the choice between signing the pledge and earning his endorsement, or being buried by Grover’s scorn and his money in a Republican primary. As with “invitations” to pay protection money to the local goombahs, people tend to accept.
Now Grover has become the crazy heart of the Republican Party. With its cresting extremist wing now having taken over, the current insurrection against the rest of the country taking place in Congress by his acolytes is a sampling of his hardcore reactionary vision. Richard Nixon was an early hero, and it definitely shows. Tricky Dick’s scheme of dressing up resentment, stinginess and a sour and crimped view of peoples and nations, and selling them as some sort of conservative “philosophy” is visibly woven into all of Grover’s work.
He’s another one of those “freedom” humbugs who hopes that while he’s in the process of haranguing the living daylights out of the evils of government, citizens won’t notice their continuing serfdom to multinational corporations, private power and accumulated wealth. He’s happy to advocate for restrictive laws shoving religiously inspired anti-abortion or anti-euthanasia laws down your throat, or allowing government to wiretap your phone without a proper warrant, or use corrupted evidence against defendants in court if it’s convenient.
But his real high comes from ensuring big business can do anything it damn pleases, and telling Americans how un-American it is to restrict the whims of companies befouling their ground water, selling them deadly products or pumping carcinogens deep into their lungs, in other words interfering with the profits of the few on behalf of the many. Freedom means, “You can’t stop money from talking.”
And his legacy, as it now becomes a living, breathing entity in the current national mess, will be to have been a founding father of the fundamentalist, absolutist conservative radicalism that doesn’t compromise, that no longer is in the business of politics, but is fully engaged in all out, unlimited civil war against opponents of its radical ultra-right vision of America, out of synch with the rest of America and the rest of the world, but doesn’t care.