There’s Gingrich having these wild ideas!
Last week, I attended the Annual Dinner of the Institute for Policy Innovation in Dallas, Texas, featuring former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Gingrich is the only political leader in America today who, after you hear him speak, leaves you feeling like you learned something new, or, maybe even that a whole new perspective or vision has been opened for you. In fact, his speech at this dinner is this generation’s modern equivalent of Reagan’s famous CPAC speech of 1975,
Gingrich has been on the cutting edge of American politics for at least 25 years now. It was as early as March of 2009 that Gingrich said if the Democrats continued to move to the left, and if their budget vote is as bad as their stimulus vote, that the Republicans would take back the House majority. Think back to how crazy, and far sighted, that had to be at the time, when Barack Obama was still in the process of beatification by the national, party controlled press.
And Newt was called out on that craziness. Stuart Rothenberg, long-time top analyst of congressional political trends, wrote in response, “[Gingrich’s] idea is lunacy and ought to be put to rest immediately.” It took more than 18 months for Rothenberg to catch up to Gingrich.
Gingrich provided insight into his roots at IPI, and where he is coming from: “My Dad was a career soldier and on Veterans Day I feel in particular the 27 years he spent serving in the United States Army, and the depth of his belief that defending America was a moral cause.” Gingrich explained the specific effect this had in his youth:
When my Dad was stationed in Orleans, France in 1957-58, the French Fourth Republic was dying. It was fighting a war in Algeria it was losing. It was suffering 100% inflation. There was still World War II and World War I battle damage…. And we went to stay at a friend of my father’s at Verdun. My father’s friend had been drafted in 1941, sent to the Philippines, served in the Bataan Death March, and spent three and a half years in a Japanese prison camp…. We spent several days touring the largest battlefield of the Western Front in Verdun in which some 600,000 men were killed in a nine month period. We spent every evening talking about his experiences having been defeated and trying to survive in the Japanese prison camp.
The lesson Gingrich took was this:
I came out of it convinced that countries die. And that the quality of civilian leadership is central to their survival…. I concluded that my job was to try to understand three things: what is it we have to do to survive as a country, how would you explain it with such clarity that the American people would give you permission to do it, and how would you then implement it in such a way that it both worked and they would give you permission to continue. I’ve literally now, for 52 years, been trying to understand this.
The result that Gingrich now offers us after 52 years of this process: “I think we have to move from a rejection model of conservatism to a replacement model of conservatism.” Gingrich explained that in the Declaration of Independence, we declared that we were rejecting the British monarchy, and that we were now independent. “However, that didn’t make us independent. We declared our opinion. In order to be successful and independent, there had to be two enormous acts of replacement. The first occurred in the winter of 1778 at Valley Forge, when George Washington, after two long painful years of defeat, came to the conclusion that only by having a first class Army, capable in a disciplined way of fighting in the field, could we defeat the British.”
So Washington spent the winter at Valley Forge training and disciplining that American Army, with the help of the young French nobleman Lafayette, and the German military veteran Von Steuben. The result was “an American Army that in the spring of 1778 defeated head-on a first class British Army in a shocking moment in which all of a sudden the British were forced to realize the Americans probably were not going to ever be defeated. But it was the replacement of British military power with American military power which made the difference.” [Emphasis added.)
The second enormous act of replacement to create America was the replacement of the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution of the United States. “It wasn’t just the Articles of Confederation aren’t adequate. It was here is an alternative.”
Gingrich went on to apply this analysis to the politics of today. The American people rejected the Left in 1972, “George McGovern was annihilated for all practical purposes.” The American people rejected the Left again in 1980, “People forget, Jimmy Carter carried exactly the same number of states as Herbert Hoover.” The American people rejected the Left even more decisively in 1984, “Walter Mondale was repudiated carrying one state, his home state, only because Reagan didn’t go and campaign there. If Reagan had campaigned in Minnesota the last weekend, he would have carried 50 states. He thought it was somehow ungentlemanly.”
The American people rejected the Left yet again in 1994, “and for the first time in 40 years, the Republicans got control of the House, and we kept it for twelve years.” Gingrich concluded, “And last Tuesday, the left was once again repudiated.” That repudiation included the largest gain of House seats by either party since 1932, plus 682 state legislative seats switching from Democrat to Republican, restoring Republicans in the states to their high water mark in the 1920s.
But Gingrich asks, do you think the Left even noticed this now long history of rejection. He answers:
The Left didn’t notice it because the power of the Left isn’t in popular elections. The power of the Left is in tenured academics. The power of the Left is the news media. The power of the Left is the bureaucracy. The power of the Left is union leadership. The power of the Left is inside the judgeships. The power of the Left is in the Hollywood literati. And so the Left just kept going further Left.
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