American history is filled with champions of hope and inspiration. Martin Luther King, Jr said, "I have a dream". Reagan brought us 'Morning in America', and George H.W. Bush called on us to be '1000 Points of Light' So where do we find hope among the 2012 GOP contenders? I make the case today that Newt Gingrich is our modern day champion of hope.
Newt Gingrich has had a very long career in politics. Newt got his start in 1978 when he won a seat in the U.S. House in Georgia's Sixth Congressional district. He went on to usher in one of the biggest-power grabs in modern politics, by orchestrating the GOP Revolution of 1994. The Republicans were able to gain 54 seats and took over the majority in the U.S. House for the first time since 1954. The political establishment at the time was rocked as Newt Gingrich and his band of conservative warriors came into Washington, D.C. and, in record time, brought every plank in their Contract With America up for a vote on the House floor, passing 9 out of 10 of the provisions in the contract They were even able to convince Bill Clinton, a Democrat, to sign Welfare Reform into law and then balance the Federal Budget in 1999, the first time that had been done since 1969.
Newt's style of governing could be considered a whirlwind. He enjoyed staying ahead of those who would try to control the narrative or the system. This got him into a number of skirmishes with the some of the old guard GOP leadership who were used to calling the shots inside the GOP. Newt was never the type to back down from a fight, and regularly took on the news media, liberal politicians and, occasionally, some of those in his own party.
So why is Newt Gingrich an agent of hope in this years race for the GOP nomination? There are several characteristics that only Newt possesses that set him apart from the other contenders. Let's take a look at of some of these qualities to get a better understanding of this man.
Newt Gingrich is a historian. Newt has authored 27 books, several documentaries and describes him self as an avid reader; he's reviewed 100's of books and articles. He's given countless speeches about American History, the one given at the Horowitz Restoration Weekend being one being one of his finest.
Newt Gingrich is an historic figure. Newt has likened himself to Winston Churchill. His critics mock the assertion, but many of his colleagues, and even a number of his enemies have made that comparison. His orchestration of the 1994 GOP Revolution certainly gives him a place in history, but I assert, he's done even more than that. He's given voice to many bold ideas throughout his career that were initially ridiculed, but then adopted by his challengers.
Newt Gingrich inspires. Newt has a knack for knowing exactly the words to use to energize voters. His GOPAC memo to Republican candidates in the 90's was an instruction manual on how to win the argument. His cassette tapes were sent out regularly to GOP party contenders. Most considered these tapes an integral part of the sweeping GOP victories of 1994.
Newt Gingrich is a teacher. In the 70's Newt taught History and Geography at West Georgia College. Newt is often criticized because of his long speeches and complex policies, but Newt has never shied away from complex political issues. He enjoys educating voters, and considers this a fundamental component of any GOP victory. He believes that voters who do not choose Republican party positions are simply uninformed, and, for the most part, I agree with that. He took time out of his busy campaign schedule a few weeks ago to educate cadettes at the Citadel on the history of conservatism.
Newt Gingrich proposes bold solutions. Saturday Night Live enjoys poking fun at Newt for some of his unorthodox ideas. He has proposed developing a moon colony and using lasers to take out North Korea's nuclear capabilities. But Newt's Contract With America was also mocked as unreasonable; his critics stopped laughing when it actually became a reality. Newt is now proposing $2.50/gallon gasoline and paying down our debt with royalties from oil and mineral rights on federal lands. Some are calling that another crazy idea, I just happen to believe it is a real solution to our energy crisis.
Now there will be those who point to Newt's personal baggage as a disqualifier in this GOP nomination fight, but I would suggest that no bold leader in history came to us without stain. We all know about Kennedy's affairs, Churchill's drinking tendencies, and even Reagan was a divorcee who was once a Democrat! I suggest that Newt is precisely the messy sort of politician that is best suited to take on the issues of our day. He lays his soul bare, flaws and all, and I love him for that.
I hope this walk through history has given at least a few wavering voters food for thought. The time in the nomination process is short, but I would say the time left to restore America is the most important factor to consider this election cycle. We really can't afford to get this one wrong. We've been headed in the wrong direction for way too long. Let's get a real wise warrior to Washington, D.C. and begin the work of restoring America. Newt's vision to restore America to our founding principles provides the hope we are seeking.