The Gray Area with Sean Illing

The Gray Area with Sean Illing takes a philosophy-minded look at culture, technology, politics, and the world of ideas. Each week, we invite a guest to explore a question or topic that matters. From the the state of democracy, to the struggle with depression and anxiety, to the nature of identity in the digital age, each episode looks for nuance and honesty in the most important conversations of our time. New episodes drop every Monday.


episode 11: Grover Norquist explains what it takes to change American politics

This is an interview you all have been asking for since day one. Grover Norquist is the head of Americans for Tax Reform, the creator of the no-new-taxes pledge that virtually every Republican officeholder has signed, and the founder of the Wednesday meetings that bring together basically every group of note on the American right. Newt Gingrich has called him "the single most effective conservative activist in the country." MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell called him "the most powerful man in America who does not sleep in the White House."He’s also, in my experience, one of the savviest observers of American politics around — in a town where people tend to be tactical and reactive, he’s unusually strategic and forward-looking, which is something he talks a bit about in the discussion. Among the other topics we cover:- Norquist's time in Angola and Mozambique helping anti-communist rebels - Whether the rise of Trump shows the conservative base isn’t quite as committed to small government and low taxes as Norquist would hope - Norquist's strategy for building durable political coalitions- Why Norquist thinks Silicon Valley will eventually turn Republican, and what he's doing to make it happen- That time Norquist did stand-up comedy at Burning Man Whether you’re on the left or the right, you should understand how Grover Norquist thinks, and I’m grateful to him for taking so much time to let us into his worldview here. As always, please, if you’re enjoying this podcast, share it with your friends, put it on the Twitters, on Facebook, email it around — it means a lot to me, and it does a lot to help the show!This episode is brought to you by The Great Courses Plus. Visit to stream hundreds of courses in subjects like photography, physics, and history for free!

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 April 12, 2016  1h30m