Newt Gingrich: Creative Conservatism
- Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was interviewed by radio host Frank Pastore on the conservative challenge and his latest book, Real Change.
Frank Pastore: Let me ask you about this break up of the Reagan coalition of faith, fiscal and foreign policy conservatives. You believe that coalition has fragmented and now we’ve got to rebuild a new coalition. In fact, you’ve got a book entitled Real Change that I think goes a long way to actually building that coalition.
Newt Gingrich: Well, I think that the great coalition that Regan built in the ‘70s and ‘80s now has to be rebuilt with some new pieces added to it. Just take a look at California: the California that elected Ronald Reagan Governor in 1966 and in 1970 has changed very dramatically. It’s a different kind of state. That doesn’t mean Reagan couldn’t have won today, but my guess is he would have won using new issues and new approaches.
In 1966, when he first started running he gave a terrific speech called “The Creative Society,” and in that speech he said, “It is the duty of leaders to offer solutions that are philosophically sound and that work.”
My point is that we who are conservative have to bring our philosophy, which is timeless, but we have to apply it to our time—and we need 2008 answers to 2008 challenges. That’s why I wrote Real Change and that’s why I have developed American Solutions. The other thing is, I want to draw a distinction, because I’ve had a couple of my very good conservative friends raise an eyebrow. We need to do what America needs and they think I’m saying we need to do what the American people want.
Gingrich: Very big difference. We have a duty to patriotism to understand what America as a country needs in order to be the most prosperous, most successful, most effective country in the world.
Gingrich: I think that we then have an obligation to learn how to articulate that effectively so that people can, in fact, decide that’s the future they want. Reagan’s great genius was not only was he able to articulate things, he was able to convince you that you wanted that for your family and your community and your country, and as a result when he ran for re-election he carried 49 states. Now we can do that again, but to do that again we have to have a principled conversation with the American people in very direct, simple language that I believe they would understand and rally to in a formidable way.
Pastore: Let’s test that now. ... Conservatives believe in limited government. I’ve seen a definitional change in that. Four, five years ago when I was in grad school and I first got this show, limited government in the minds of most conservatives meant “let’s shrink government now.” That definition has gone through a change. It now means, “Let’s have smarter government, let’s be better with spending and let’s not fuel some of these programs by simply throwing more money at them. Let’s actually analyze and be smart with our spending.” So, they want smarter government.
Gingrich: But look, I’m for both. I had a conversation today with a very good conservative talk show host who said, “Why do you want government to be effective?” Well, do you want to control the border? He said, “Well, of course.” I said, “Okay. Wouldn’t you say to the government that was competent enough to control the border was effective?”
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