Introduced as “a true American patriot,” former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was all smiles as he took the stage in front of conference room overflowing with young conservatives Tuesday afternoon.
Gingrich used his time in the spotlight at the Annual National Conservative Student Conference not to inspire future leaders, but instead encouraging passionate activism now. Beginning with the fearless champion of the modern conservative movement, Gingrich drew parallels between former President Jimmy Carter’s administration and current President Obama’s to illustrate Ronald Reagan’s rise.
When Reagan took office, America was facing an out of touch president who promoted a confused foreign policy and a failing economic strategy. Today’s similar situation creates an opening for rising leaders, according to Gingrich, and the time to start is now, on college campuses across the nation.
First, young conservatives must encourage debate among their peers, putting free-market ideals and small government on an equal platform with the liberal government-centered solutions that often run rabid on campuses. Given equal exposure, conservative solutions to problems with energy, taxation, education, and healthcare will be given that much more consideration.
Gingrich then highlighted another pillar essential to guarding liberty, local activism. Citing George Orwell’s famous (or infamous) dystopia novel, 1984, he stressed the importance of the Polish Resistance Movement. Polish people held signs reading, “2+2=4” reiterate Orwell’s notion that there are objective facts which are true no matter what the government says.
To relate the conservative philosophy to real life, Gingrich asked the audience to finish the equation, “If you can’t afford to buy a house…?” The audience resounded, “Don’t buy a house!” That, Gingrich said, is what makes the audience conservatives.
In another example, Gingrich returned to Carter. When there was an oil shortage, Carter decided to tax and ration gasoline. The ration only allowed vehicles with a certain last digit on their license plate to fuel up. Gingrich then said, a 13-year old boy was out there unscrewing the license plate to put on the alternate one — allowing them to fuel up without regard to the day’s ration number.
“If you hear this story and say, this is ridiculous,” the gasoline ration should be scrapped, “you are a conservative,” Gingrich said. “If you thought the government should create a license plate police force, then you are a liberal,” Gingrich joked.
Amid proposing four simple tax cuts that would benefit all Americans, Gingrich also gave information to arm conservative debaters on college campuses. One pithy phrase that received bursts of both laughter and applause from the audience was on continued foreign dependency on oil. “We believe that bowing to a Saudi king is NOT an effective energy policy,” Gingrich asserted.
“I don’t think you’re nerds, I think you’re citizens,” he concluded. Gingrich called all conservatives to act now by speaking out on campus, leading events and debates, and especially contacting representatives about the Health Care bill floating around congress. Parting with words of wisdom, Gingrich told the young crowd the way to change, “I think you should run for office — I’m serious…Go run!”