A Conversation with Newt Gingrich (Jul-Oct 2008)

By Matt Dabbs

by Fred Peatross
July – October, 2008

Newt GingrichNewt Gingrich is Chairman of the Gingrich Group, a communications and consulting firm that specializes in transformational change, with offices in Atlanta and Washington, DC . He serves as General Chairman of American Solutions for Winning the Future (www.americansolutions.com), is a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC, a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California and is an Honorary Chairman of the NanoBusiness Alliance. Newt is also a news and political analyst for the Fox News Channel.

Mr. Gingrich was first elected to Congress in 1978 where he served the Sixth District of Georgia for twenty years. In 1995, he was elected Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives where he served until 1999. The Washington Times has called him “the indispensable leader” and Time magazine, in naming him Man of the Year for 1995, said, “Leaders make things possible. Exceptional leaders make them inevitable. Newt Gingrich belongs in the category of the exceptional.”

He is widely recognized as the chief architect of the Republican Contract with America and the key strategist and leader behind the 1994 Republican victory, which created the first GOP majority in Congress in 40 years, and the 1996 and 1998 victories that retained that majority for the first time in 74 years. Rediscovering God in America

He is recognized worldwide as an expert on world history, military issues and international affairs and is a member of the Senior Advisory Board of the United States Commission on National Security/21st Century that produced a series of reports that document the our national security challenges as far out as 2025.

As an author Mr. Gingrich has published fifteen books including several fiction and non-fiction best-sellers. Non-fiction books include his latest, Real Change, in addition to others such as Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America, To Renew America, Lessons Learned the Hard Way, Saving Lives & Saving Money, Window of Opportunity, The Art of Transformation, and his latest, Rediscovering God in America. He is also the author of these fiction books: Gettysburg, Grant Comes East, Never Call Retreat: Lee and Grant the Final Victory, 1945, and Pearl Harbor, A Novel of December the 8. All of these novels are active history studies in the lessons of warfare based on fictional accounts of historical wartime battles and their aftermaths.

Fred Peatross: Mr. Gingrich I feel very honored to be sitting here asking you what I think are very important questions. Thank you. Now, let me ask. Would you agree that America stands at a crossroad today? We face some serious issues. Can you speak to this?

Newt Gingrich: America does indeed face a number of great challenges today. Yes, we are as a nation, at a crossroads. It is playing out in the current presidential campaign. I believe that there are five great challenges facing America. Any one of which threaten our very civilization. The first is the threat of the irreconcilable wing of Islam. That is, those who embrace a fanatical form of Islam that is not compatible with Western values and there desire to defeat us. The second threat is from those within our society who not only seek to remove God from the public square but to rewrite our history so as to eliminate any reference to the centrality of God in America. The third challenge is similar to the second in that the threat comes from within and it seeks to diminish our patriotic sense of ourselves as a unique civilization of enormous achievement, prosperity and freedom. The fourth challenge is that we will not make the changes necessary in education, taxation, regulation, litigation, investments in science and technology and health to effectively compete with China and India. The fifth challenge is how we will meet our moral obligation to honor and care for our growing senior population by keeping them active and healthy as long as possible. Part of this challenge will be to modernize our Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security programs before they collapse.

Fred Peatross: I’m not sure we can look to an elected official for the leadership America needs for a prosperous and secure future. Can you convince the readers otherwise?

Newt Gingrich: Leadership is indeed critical to our American survival. While the President of the United States is the focal point of American leadership, the president alone cannot bring about the needed changes for a brighter future. The President must cast a compelling vision that provides the moral imperative necessary to inspire the American people to follow. The American people must then engage politically to insist upon the needed changes through America’s 513,000 elected officials at all levels of government. But it starts with a leader who can communicate a path to where the people already want to go.

Fred Peatross: Should we be pessimistic? I mean after all isn’t it the more realistic view? Look at the history of our elected officials? For example; they seldom listen to the people who elected them. They seldom agree among themselves. They seem to like gridlock.

Newt Gingrich: While the Democratic process is frustrating, it is important to remember that it is designed to be. The founding fathers purposefully designed a system in which no dictator could gain control it. In this, they were brilliantly successful. I would argue that the American view is the realistic view and that as frustrating as it can be, the system ultimately works. History shows us that from time to time that the American people will engage politically and thus overwhelm the system to impose their will. These historical movements have lead to sweeping political change from the Federalists, to the Jeffersonians, to the Jacksonians, to the Lincoln Republicans, to the Progressives, to the New Deal, to President Reagan that led to the 1994 “Contract with America”/Republican Revolution. I’m an optimist. I believe in times of great challenge leaders emerge and the American people rally to find solutions that lead to a better America. That has always been our history but our future depends upon the current generation to impose our American principles, values, culture and habits that have created and sustained the greatest civilization in all of human history.

Fred Peatross: I like the idea of limiting government but it seems like such an enormous task. It would be like trying to stop a fast-moving-downhill-train. Can you speak to this?

Newt Gingrich: The current scale of government can be described as nothing less than enormous. Our current generation of political leaders have trapped themselves into believing that our current bureaucracies invented in the 1880s that were codified into law in the 1930s and worked marginally well in the industrial age could somehow continue to work in the information age. They cannot. We can choose the hopeless task of trying to fix them or we can take up the hard work of creating the systems that will work it in the 21st century. We already know what works. Every American lives in both a world that works and a world that fails simultaneously. The world that works is characterized by Google, eBay, ATM machines, travel websites, UPS, FedEx, and gas pumps to take credit and debit cards. The world that fails can be best characterized by our unsecured borders, our dismal response to hurricane Katrina, and by the millions of people who are in our country illegally. The future success of our civilization will depend upon moving from the world that fails to the world works.

Fred Peatross: Do you believe the elite of Hollywood have somehow garnered the power of influence in American? And in your opinion does the average American citizen understand this?

Newt Gingrich: There can be no doubt that Hollywood has a vast influence on our culture. The entertainment industry knows all too well its power and influence. Unfortunately, much of what is coming out of Hollywood is corrosive and leads to cultural decay. I believe that most Americans do understand the negative effects of this influence. Take for example, parents struggling to raise their kids who must combat the unending messages coming from the television, from the radio, and from celebrities every day. They know the negative influences coming from Hollywood firsthand.

Fred Peatross: What are your thoughts on immigration?

Newt Gingrich: First let me say that we are a nation of immigrants, we always have been and we always should be. Having said that, our nation was built upon a foundation of laws. We need a rational immigration policy that will secure our borders, protect our people, improve our economy, and defend our culture. The current system which has allowed millions to cross into the United States illegally is by definition irrational. Fixing it requires first securing the border for both immigration control and national security.

Most of the people who are crossing into the United States illegally are coming for the opportunities the U.S. has to offer to improve their lives and the lives of their families. So great is the opportunity to work in the United States and so desperate is the need that millions of them have risked their lives crossing the border. While most people coming across the border into the United States illegally do not intend to cause the United States harm, it is necessary and reasonable to know exactly who is coming across, for what purpose, where they will stay, where they will work or study and how long they will be here.

A rational guest worker program would require every guest worker to pass a thorough but efficient background check. Each guest worker would agree to provide a bio-metric identifier, such as a thumbprint and an iris scan that would be used in a “smart” temporary guest worker card program. The card would be required by an employer to electronically verify identification and without the card it would be impossible to legally hire or pay a guest worker. The truth is that if no one paid undocumented workers, they would not come and therefore once the system is in place we should fine employers harshly who to break the law.

The card would allow a guest worker the right to enter the United States for work at a specific job for a set of period of time. In exchange, temporary guest workers would sign a contract agreeing to pay taxes, purchase required insurance, get a drivers license, and obey the law. Failing to uphold their agreement would result in being removed from the United States within 72 hours.

As a matter of principle we should not accept amnesty. We cannot allow individuals to begin their time in the United States by breaking the law, nor should we send a message to those who followed the rules by waiting for a legal visa in their own country that it was a mistake to do so.

While many guest workers have no intention of becoming American citizens, in order to protect our unique civilization, we should carefully consider how to help assimilate those who do. Our country has a rich history of immigration which has been a primary source of our creativity and our prosperity. We should continue to strongly encourage those who want to become citizens, but it is important that we accept only those who embrace American values and culture.

For those who wish to seek citizenship, we need to resist any attempt to ridicule and undermine American values and proudly teach new Americans the culture and habits of our success.

English has been and should remain the primary language of America. But there should be a National Program for English Instruction that is modeled after the highly successful “Ulpan Studies” program in Israel.

Fred Peatross: What do you see as the strengths of Barack Obama? Weakness? Strengths of John McCain? Weaknesses?

Newt Gingrich: Barack Obama is a dynamic and attractive leader. He has boldly raised many issues surrounding poverty and culture that most political leaders have been reluctant to face head-on. I responded to his challenge on race and poverty in a recent speech I gave at the American Enterprise Institute. And while I commended Senator Obama for raising these issues, I challenged him to take on the cycle of bad culture reinforced by bad government policies. We need to have the courage to assert our American habits of success and inculcate them throughout our society so that every American has an equal opportunity to succeed. In many segments of our society we have been doing the opposite. We have government that encourages destructive behaviors that we know lead to failure. This is most obvious in the inner cities like Detroit where 4 out of every 5 high school students will not graduate on time and where an African American male who drops out of high school has a better than 60% chance of going to jail.

I think Senator Obama’s weakness will come when the American people discover that his “change” message is really propping up the old order and the status quo and that his record and positions really amount to more of the same and not a change in direction.

Senator John McCain’s positions, by contrast, are well known. His strength comes from his steadfast adherence to his core principle no matter what the political costs. He has demonstrated this strength time and time again. While I have had profound policy disagreements with Senator McCain on taxes, immigration and campaign finance reform, I have always known where he stood. His challenge will be to convince the American people that he does not intend to carry out a Bush third term but in fact, even though he has been a Senator for a long time, he intends to lead the country in a different direction.

Fred Peatross: Can you tell us a little about your new book?

Newt Gingrich: I touch upon many of the themes in my new book Real Change above. The core message is how to move from the “world that fails” to the “world that works” on a whole range of policy issues from replacing adolescence to prison reform, to immigration, to healthcare to Social Security reform. Moreover, Americans largely agree on a set of core values and principles and readily agree on common sense solutions to the challenges we face. We uncover that the “Red vs.. Blue” debate is a myth invented by the media. We also outline over 90 issues where the American people are in overwhelming agreement on issue like the environment, prayer in public places including schools, English as the official language of government to moving to a flat income tax.New Wineskins

You can start or join a thread about this article in the discussion forums for this issue, At the Intersection of Church and State.

Fred PeatrossFred Peatross lives, works, romances his wife and exudes deep feelings of love, awe, and admiration for his Creator while living in the heart of Appalachia. For over two decades Fred has resided in Huntington, West Virginia where he has been a leader in the traditional church. He has been a deacon, a shepherd, and a pulpit minister. But his greatest love is Missio Dei.

Long before thousands of missionaries poured into the former Soviet Union Fred, in a combined effort with a Christ follower from Alabama planted a church in Dneprodzerhinsk, Ukraine. Today Fred lives as a missionary to America daily praying behind the back of his friends as he journeys and explores life alongside them. [Fred Peatross’ book Missio Dei - In the Crisis of ChristianityMissio Dei: In the Crisis of Christianity, reviewed in New Wineskins]. He blogs at [Abductive Columns].

 

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Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1577 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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