What I learned from Mr. Collins and why I’m voting for Newt Gingrich

I had a teacher in high school named Pat Collins. He taught (teaches) an 11th grade Government class. At that time, he said something that has remained with me for the 25 years since. He explained that while political parties are ideological in nature that one should not conflate party with ideology. They are too separate things. He went on to explain that for a variety of reasons there were conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans.

It appears that Mitt Romney is going to win the Florida primary tomorrow by anywhere between 7-12 percentage points. As a Newt Gingrich supporter, I believe this is a shame and I’ll tell you why. We are one step closer to nominating not only a liberal Republican (when what we need in the White House is a conservative to undo the considerable mess made by Obama, and yes by Bush and the previous congresses) but a Republican that can’t even be considered a Republican in any real sense.

In the 1970s when Newt Gingrich first ran for congress in Georgia, the natural place for a young conservative would have been the Democratic party. After all, like all other southern states Georgia had been in firm control of the Democrats since the reconstruction. But Newt joined the Republican party and lost. And then he ran again and lost. And the third time was a charm.

Gingrich, now a presidential hopeful, traveled West and North Georgia during the 1970s and ’80s, preaching the Republican gospel and arguing that the GOP had to choose between remaining a silent, permanent minority or aggressively taking the fight to Democrats.

In Washington, Newt Gingrich fought entrenched interests in both parties. Despite a series of attacks from Romney surrogates that have been disproved, Gingrich was a stalwart defender and loyal lieutenant of President Ronald Reagan.

In the early 1990s Newt Gingrich dreamed of achieving what seemed impossible, leading a Republican takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time in more than 40 years. Sounds easy now but let’s not forget that Bill Clinton was in the White House, he had been elected with a plurality of 43% and was trying to take the country radically leftward. Newt harnessed the backlash against liberalism and channeled it into a stunning win for the Republican party. Newt’s Contract with America was a rallying point, a 10-point agenda to be passed by the House if Republicans were swept into the majority. Video here. Newt and congress delivered on their promises and a difficult chapter for Clinton began. Clinton was and is a smart politician so he pivoted and begrudgingly adopted some of the Republican issues and signed several of the contract items into law. For the first time in decades the Federal budget was balanced and a liberal president was ruling as a conservative because Newt and House Republican freshmen were holding his feet to the fire. Nobody can dispute this history.

Now, Newt Gingrich has many negatives, no doubt. He’s been married three times, he admits that adulterous affairs ended his first two marriages, he was charged with ethics violations during his time as speaker (of which he was eventually cleared). It’s easy to forget how partisan the attacks on Gingrich were as conservative commentator Dan McLaughlin recently tweeted:

Dan McLaughlin @baseballcrank
I’d actually forgotten until this campaign what a trumped-up bit of partisan nonsense the ethics charges vs Newt were.

I have no illusions about Newt Gingrich’s negatives, as I said when I personally endorsed Newt Gingrich on October 13th of last year, there are no perfect candidates in this race. Which leads me to Mitt Romney, the most imperfect of the three remaining serious contenders (Rick Santorum being the third).

Mitt Romney is neither a conservative nor a Republican. As recently as 1992 Mitt Romney was an independent voting for Democrats in presidential primaries.

Unlike Newt Gingrich, you don’t have to manipulate 25-year old speeches or video to get anti-Reagan sentiments from Mitt Romney. You just have to see how he ran against Ted Kennedy for the Senate in 1994.

In 1994, a time when Newt Gingrich was rallying conservatives and Republicans toward an unprecedented shift in power, Mitt Romney was trying to get himself elected in liberal Massachusetts by running away from Reagan, Gingrich and the Contract with America. He could have chosen the hard road Gingrich chose, being a conservative Republican in a Democrat state but didn’t.

Despite not being a Republican for the vast majority of his life, Mitt Romney is running for Republican nomination. He’s using surrogates, Super PACs, and an incredible fundraising advantage not to build his own case but to tear down others. When Newt Gingrich began to surge in Iowa, Romney flooded the airwaves with attacks. As I pointed out previously, there’s no doubt that Romney slung first mud in this primary and he hasn’t stopped. We shouldn’t be surprised, he did the same thing to Governor Mike Huckabee in 2008.

Mitt Romney’s campaign thought they left Newt for dead in Iowa but Newt continued to connect with voters and won a stunning victory in South Carolina. So Mitt the Destroyer is back at it. In Florida, Romney has spent 4 times as much as Gingrich. I don’t have a problem with the spending, only with the content. Mitt Romney has not made a compelling case for himself, only a scorched-earth smear campaign against his chief rival.

So the Republican Floridians that haven’t voted yet have a choice tomorrow. They can vote for Newt Gingrich, an imperfect man who has always been a party builder and who, when he had power, governed conservatively or we can vote for a man who is neither conservative nor a Republican party man.

Over the weekend I was on twitter asking Romney supporters to give me affirmative reasons that Romney should be the Republican nominee. I explained that I didn’t want to hear negatives about other candidates, I wanted to know what Mitt Romney has done in his career to earn the mantle of the Republican party in this upcoming election. The responses I got were that he’s a great family man, a great businessman and that he saved the Olympics. All very admirable but I would argue that that’s not enough.

I believe that at the very least we should nominate a man who believes in and stands up for our party and the ideology that it’s supposed to be espousing, conservatism. Yes, Mr. Collins, the two are not the same but at a minimum the Republican candidate should have one of those characteristics. Mitt Romney is obviously lacking both. Mitt Romney was notably AWOL in the great ideological and partisan battles of the late 20th century and now he wants us to believe he’s going to lead us in the next one this century? I’m not buying it and I urge my fellow Floridians to reject it tomorrow at the polls.

6 thoughts on “What I learned from Mr. Collins and why I’m voting for Newt Gingrich”

  1. Gingrich’s lack of leadership skills (IMVHO) and his tendency to throw things and ideas out there that leave people scratching their heads is a primary reason I am not supporting him. He lost the debate last Thursday, big time. As hard as it is to believe, Romney had him for lunch. Too bad because I really wanted to find compelling reasons to support Newt.

    I can’t vote for Romney in a primary, either. Therefore my only real choice is Rick Santorum who unfortunately hasn’t gotten enough attention for his mostly-solid conservative ideas and his unique-among-GOP working class sensibilities which would connect well with swing-state voters.

  2. Mr. Molleda, I agree with you that Santorum is the real choice, but unfortunately, we have to admit that he is not going to make. Therefore, between Romney and Newt, I believe Newt is the choice. And remember, a no vote is a vote!
    I agree so very much with Henry, I just wish that Newt makes it to NJ.

    Saludos,

    Mari

  3. OVATION! Newt is the ONLY choice for a true conservative.

    Hell, Obama might be more conservative on some issues than even Mitt is. Mitt Romney WON governor of Taxachusetts … do you think Gingrich could do that? Why in the hell would the GOP want someone who Massachesetts (Ted Kennedy, John Kerry) approved of?

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