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Newt Gingrich on Principles & Values

Former Republican Representative (GA-6) and Speaker of the House


OpEd: Contract agenda smart; but exaggerated scandal culture

In 1992, Republicans in Congress, led by Newt Gingrich, sought to wrest political power out of the president's hands by pushing an ideologically driven agendas, tearing down Clinton and attacking congressional Democrats rather than reaching out to forge common ways forward in line with their political priorities. Some of what the Gingrich Republicans did was simply smart political positioning, as when they developed and trumpeted their Contract with America as a coherent agenda and set of shared talking points for congressional candidates to rally around. The gambit helped them wrest control of the House of Representatives from Democrats in 1994. But some of what they did was based on exaggerated charges of dishonesty, immorality, and corruption, using Washington's scandal culture as a weapon to attack Clinton & his allies. The parade of scandals seemed endless: Travelgate, Whitewater, FBIgate, the Vince Foster case, the Rose Law Firm billing records affair, and, of course, the Monica Lewinsky episode.
Source: What Happened, by Scott McClellan, p. 17 May 28, 2008

Thinking about thinking about running; decision by October

Q: We’re curious about whether you’re a candidate. Let me show you what you’ve said. In December 2003: “I doubt it very much,” running for president. Then in May 2006, “I doubt it.” Then in December 2006, “Of course I’m thinking about it.” And last week, “It is a great possibility.” As we sit on this day, May 20th, 2007, will Newt Gingrich run for president?

A: I promise, if after the September 27th American Solutions workshop, I do decide to run, I will come back and be on “Meet the Press.”

Q: So you’re thinking about running?

A: Well, I’m thinking about thinking about running. But I won’t do anything at all about the possibility of running until after September 29th when we have our second workshop.

Q: So by October you should have a decision?

A: By October I’m confident that we’ll be chatting.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series May 20, 2007

Creator as source of liberty is literally written in stone

The first rays of sun on our Nation’s Capital each morning illuminate [the Washington Monument]. And there on the top is inscribed Laus Deo (“Praise be to God”). These simple words, for the eyes of heaven alone, are a fitting reflection of George Washington’s conviction that liberty is owed to divine blessing.

[One can see in any tour of Washington DC] that our Creator is the source of American liberty--it is literally written into the rock, mortar, and marble of American history.

Source: Rediscovering God in America, by Newt Gingrich, p.130-131 Dec 31, 2006

Media-academic-legal elite imposes radical secularist vision

A media-academic-legal elite is energetically determined to impose a radically secularist vision against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of Americans. This outlook rejects the wisdom if the founding generation as outdated and treats the notion that our liberties come from God as a curious artifact from the 1770s but of little practical importance for more enlightened times.

This elite is especially hard at work in the courts and in the classrooms where it is attempting to overturn two centuries of American self-understanding of religious freedom and political liberty.

In the courts, we see a systematic effort by this elite to purge all religious expression from American public life. The ongoing attempt to remove the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance is only the most well-known of these mounting efforts.

Source: Rediscovering God in America, by Newt Gingrich, p.131-132 Dec 31, 2006

Constitution says freedom OF religion, not FROM religion

The first ten amendments to the Constitution are known as the Bill of Rights. Amendment I begins: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

The language clearly prohibits the establishment of an official national religion, while at the same time protecting the observance of religion in both private and public spaces. In fact, two of the principal authors of the First Amendment, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, who were also our third and fourth presidents, respectively, both attended church services in the Capitol building, the most public of American spaces. During Jefferson’s presidency, church services were also held in the Treasury building and the Supreme Court. Therefore, these Founding Fathers clearly saw no conflict in opposing the establishment of an official religion while protecting the freedom of religious expression in the public square.

Source: Rediscovering God in America, by Newt Gingrich, p. 31-32 Dec 31, 2006

Supreme Court hostile to religion, but building based on it

While recent years have seen increasing hostility from the courts to public displays of religion, the Supreme Court is filled with them. Notice that all sessions begin with the Court’s marshal announcing: “God save the United States and this honorable court.”

Throughout history, decisions of the Supreme Court have recognized that we are a religious nation. For example, in the 1952 case Zorach vs. Clauson, the court upheld a statute that allowed students to be released from school to attend religious classes.

The most striking religious imagery at the Supreme Court building is that of Moses with the Ten Commandments. Affirming the Judeo-Christian roots of our legal system, they can be found in several places: at the center of the sculpture over the east portico of the building, inside the actual courtroom, and finally, engraved over the chair of the Chief Justice, and on the bronze doors of the Supreme Court itself. There is also a sculpted marble depiction of Mohammad on the wall.

Source: Rediscovering God in America, by Newt Gingrich, p. 85-89 Dec 31, 2006

Reform traditional instruments of gov’t for 21st century

We must implement policies that will ensure America’s leadership, safety, and prosperity. And we must reinvigorate the core values that have made an exceptional civilization. We do not believe the traditional instruments of government will reform themselves fast enough and thoroughly enough for the twenty-first century.

Only a grassroots citizens’ movement can insist on the level of change that is needed for our children and grandchildren to have a successful future. Such a citizens’ movement would have to be focused on goals rather than on interest groups. The goals define the America we want our children and grandchildren to have. To achieve this future we will:

  1. Defend America and our allies from those who would destroy us.
  2. Transform the Social Security system into personal savings accounts.
  3. Recenter on the Creator from Whom all our liberties come.
  4. Establish patriotic education for our children and patriotic immigration for new Americans.
Source: Gingrich Communications website, www.newt.org Dec 1, 2006

Focus on 5 major challenges for the 21st century

We believe our children & grandchildren deserve the opportunities our parents & grandparents gave us. [We must address 5 major challenges]:
  1. Securing America & its Allies by Defeating America’s Enemies, especially the Irreconcilable Wing of Islam & the rogue dictatorships that empower them.
  2. Defending God in the Public SquareThere is no attack on American culture more deadly & more historically dishonest than the unending war against God in America’s public life.
  3. Protecting American CivilizationWe should not worry about people who want to come to the US to work hard & become Americans. What should worry us is ensuring that new immigrants learn to be American.
  4. Winning in a Global EconomyThe challenge of economi competition from China & India will require transformations in litigation, education, taxation, environmental & health policies.
  5. Promoting Active Healthy Aging[We need to reform the] Medicare & Social Security systems for the 21st Century.
Source: Gingrich Communications website, www.newt.org Dec 1, 2006

1998: Proceeded with unpopular impeachment "because we can"

On the first day after the 1998 election I called Newt Gingrich to talk about some business; when the conversation got around to the election, he was very generous, saying that as a historian and "the quarterback for the other team," he wanted to congratulate me.

Later in November, Erskine Bowles had a very different conversation: Newt told Erskine that they were going to go forward with the impeachment despite the election results and the fact that many moderate Republicans didn't want to vote for it. When Erskine asked Newt why they would proceed with impeachment instead of other possible remedies such as censure or reprimand, the Speaker replied, "Because we can."

The right-wing Republicans who controlled the House believed that they had now paid for impeachment so they should just go on and do it before the new Congress came in. The right-wingers in the House caucus were seething over their defeat. Now they were going to seize back control of the Republican agenda through impeachment.

Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.824-825 Jun 21, 2004

3 out of 14 planks of Contract With America passed by 1996

In 1995, as Congress recessed for Xmas break on Dec. 22, Gingrich Republicans passed a radical welfare reform act that, if left to stand, would imperil millions of vulnerable women & children. The President vetoed the GOP welfare bill as promised.

The Republicans finally were being held accountable for both the budget impasse and the shutdowns, and the drop in their approval ratings led to a fracturing of the party's united front. By January, Sen. Bob Dole, likely looking ahead to the launch of his presidential campaign, started talking compromise. Gingrich's strategy of "playing chicken" with Bill had failed, and I felt great relief that we could reopen the government and get workers back on the payroll now that Bill had prevailed.

As Congress opened on Jan. 3, 1996, only three minor pieces of the Gingrich Contract had been signed into law. Bill had sustained 11 vetoes. He had managed to stave off disastrous cuts to Medicare and to save programs like AmeriCorps and Legal Aid services

Source: Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, p.326 Nov 1, 2003

Politics is war without blood

Newt Gingrich arrived in 1979, a Pennsylvanian transplanted to Georgia, a college professor and political activist. Gingrich was obsessed with books about military tactics. He had become something of a reverse Clausewitz: He considered politics the extension of war by other means. "War without blood," he called it.
Source: The Natural, by Joe Klein, p.103 Feb 11, 2003

Polls are biased left; GOP wins on the issues

There is another great source of liberal power, not quite the same thing as the press but working hand in hand with it--and that is news media public opinion polls. Polls can be manipulated: through the pools selected for polling and through the wording of the questions. First of all, if you ask all adults rather than likely voters, your results will be skewed by the responses of people who are not interested in politics and will therefore be more likely simply to parrot what they have picked up from television. The more likely you are to vote, the more likely you are to pay attention to the arguments. As we’ve lately been discovering, the more you pay attention to the arguments, the more likely you are to vote for us.

Source: Lessons Learned the Hard Way, by Newt Gingrich, p. 73-75 Jul 2, 1998

GOP represents people, but Dems communicate better

Sometimes I think we conservative politicians forget how much the people “out there” are with us. The age of liberalism is over, and millions of Americans are calling on us to figure out how to replace it. We do in fact know how to do that, though people go on needing to be convinced that there will be no unmanageable hardships for them concealed in our plans.

They need to believe that we understand how people feel. This is sometimes an uncomfortable thing for Republicans to make convincing. Often we tend to talk as if we are a group of managers analyzing some problem in a boardroom. Democrats, on the other hand, whatever their other shortcomings, have a passion for both power and people and instinctively know how to focus in on both. You might say that they on the whole come on like a party of lawyers making an appeal to a blue-collar jury, while Republicans come on like a party of managers making an appeal to a board of directors. Guess who is more successful at mass communication?

Source: Lessons Learned the Hard Way, by Newt Gingrich, p. 40 Jul 2, 1998

Baby Boomers becoming Republicans while Dems become outdated

Republicans are riding a wave of generational change. Baby boomers and their children are growing more conservative & critical of government failure to deliver services to a standard comparable to those of the private sector. On their side, the Democrats are being dragged downhill by a combination of their industrial-age institutions, such as the labor unions, government bureaucrats, & trial lawyers, and their ideological base groups, such as radical feminists, homosexual activists, & race politicians. These all keep the Democratic Party committed to policies & institutions that often violate the public’s sense of decency & that cannot meet their demands for a dollar’s worth of government services for a dollar of taxes.

Most of these trends are barel noted in the media while they are happening, with the result that the view of the world that dominates in Washington and New York and Cambridge Mass, is almost 180 degrees different from the view of the world of everyday practical political leaders.

Source: Lessons Learned the Hard Way, by Newt Gingrich, p. 78-79 Jul 2, 1998

Liberals exploit weakness; conservatives offer strength

We must expect liberals to continue to fight us, and where they do so honestly, to respect them for it while continuing to work for our success. If the conservative movement had survived LBJ & Watergate by assuring itself that values were more important than popularity, we can expect the liberals to do no less. After all, they have something tempting to promise people that we do not, namely, the quick fix & the easy buck. Americans are especially tired of the oppressive politically correct culture that has grown up around them. But it is well to remember that temptation is something ever lurking, waiting to exploit human weakness, especially in difficult times. What we have to offer people instead is strength and adventure, the experience of a new level of life-enhancing energy and love of a great country. We have no reason to become distressed--as many members of the House did and as I at some point also did. What we are embarked on is what they call steady work, more than enough for a lifetime.
Source: Lessons Learned the Hard Way, by Newt Gingrich, p. 82-83 Jul 2, 1998

Six challenges for a prosperous, free, & safe America

    Let me outline the six major changes that I believe are necessary to leave our children with an America that is prosperous, free, and safe:
  1. We must reassert and renew American civilization. Until we re-establish a legitimate moral-cultural standard, our civilization is at risk.
  2. We must accelerate America’s entry into the Third Wave Information Age. Second only to renewing our civilization is making the intellectual investment necessary to understand these changes and harness them to our lasting advantage.
  3. We must rethink our competition in the world market. We want our labor to add the highest value so that we can be the most effective competitor on earth.
  4. We must replace the welfare state with an opportunity society.
  5. We must replace our centralized, micro-managed, Washington-based bureaucracy with a dramatically decentralized system more appropriate to a continent-wide country.
  6. We musty be honest about the cost of government programs and balance the federal budget.
Source: To Renew America, p. 6-9 Jul 2, 1995

Culture of irresponsibility began in 1965

We must reassert and renew American civilization. From the arrival of English-speaking colonists in 1607 until 1965, there was one continuous civilization built around a set of commonly accepted legal and cultural principles. From the Jamestown colony and the Pilgrims, through de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, up to Norman Rockwell’s paintings of the 1940s and 1950s, there was a clear sense of what it meant to be an American. Our civilization is based on a spiritual and moral dimension. It emphasizes personal responsibility as much as individual rights. Since 1965, however, there has been a calculated effort by cultural elites to discredit this civilization and replace it with a culture of irresponsibility that is incompatible with American freedoms as we have known them. Our first task is to return to teaching Americans about America and teaching immigrants how to become Americans. Until we re-establish a legitimate moral-cultural standard, our civilization is at risk.
Source: To Renew America, p. 7 Jul 2, 1995

Our civilization is a shared opportunity to pursue happiness

    We have gone from being a strong, self-reliant, vigorous society to a pessimistic one that celebrates soreheads and losers jealous of others’ successes. I came out of my two years of reviewing American history convinced that our first need is to rediscover the values we have lost. In my reading, I found five basic principles that I believe form the heart of our civilization:
  1. The common understanding we share about who we are and how we came to be
  2. The ethic of individual responsibility
  3. The spirit of entrepreneurial free enterprise
  4. The spirit of invention and discovery
  5. Pragmatism and the concern for craft and excellence.
We stand on the shoulders of Western European civilization, but we are far more futuristic, more populist, and more inclusive. American civilization is not merely a subset of Western Europe’s. We have drawn people and cultures from across the planet and integrated them into an extraordinary shared opportunity to pursue happiness.
Source: To Renew America, p. 33-34 Jul 2, 1995

Contract with America: 10 bills in 1st 100 days of Congress.

Gingrich wrote the Contract with America:

As Republican Members of the House of Representatives and as citizens seeking to join that body, we propose not just to change its policies, but to restore the bounds of trust between the people and their elected representatives. That is why, in this era of official evasion and posturing, we offer instead a detailed agenda for national renewal, a written commitment with no fine print.

    Within the first hundred days of the 104th Congress, we shall bring to the House Floor the following bills, each to be given a full and open debate, each to be given a clear and fair vote, and each to be immediately available this day for public inspection and scrutiny:
  1. The Fiscal Responsibility Act: Balanced budget amendment & line item veto
  2. The Taking Back Our Streets Act: More prisons, more enforcement, more death penalty
  3. The Personal Responsibility Act: Limit welfare to 2 years & cut welfare spending
  4. The Families Reinforcement Act: Use tax code to foster families
  5. The American Dream Restoration Act: Repeal marriage tax; cut middle class taxes
  6. The National Security Restoration Act: No US troops under UN command; more defense spending
  7. The Senior Citizens Fairness Act: Reduce taxes on Social Security earnings
  8. The Job Creation and Wage Enhancement Act: Incentives to small businesses
  9. The Common Sense Legal Reforms Act: Limit punitive damages
  10. The Citizen Legislature Act: Term limits on Congress
Further, we will work to enact additional budget savings, beyond the budget cuts specifically included in the legislation above, to ensure that the federal budget will be less than it would have been without the enactment of these bills. Respecting the judgment of our fellow citizens as we seek their mandate for reform, we hereby pledge our names to this Contract with America.
Source: Contract with America 93-CWA1 on Sep 27, 1994

Other candidates on Principles & Values: Newt Gingrich on other issues:
Nominees:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

Third Parties:
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
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Page last updated: Feb 08, 2010