As the Presidential Election circus approaches, we take a moment to consider one act under the political big top that has outlived its useful life. I speak of none other than Newt Gingrich.
As Speaker of the House of Representatives, he engineered and steered the Republican victory of 1994 that saw them sweep into power in Congress. He of the “Contract For America,” proceeded to do a dance with President Bill Clinton, hamstringing him when convenient, attacking him when necessary, and compromising as little as possible. He would have been more successful, too, if greed and over-arching pride had not gotten the better of him. Ethically-challenged and morally-suspect, he went from Republican avatar to his own worst enemy in the matter of a few years.
Now, he wants to be President.
He has always had that ambition, no doubt, and perhaps would have run sooner, had his own proclivities not tripped him up. But here he stands, feet in the water, quacking like a duck and ruffling the feathers of every other duck on the pond, trumpeting his superiority in the role of Commander-in-Chief over the current occupant of the White House. Mind you, his lips are still a tad loose, and his mind still a bit too deep in the mire, but it does not seem to occur to him that saying less would do him better. He has already put his base-pandering machine in full gear, courting “Christian” conservatives, Tea Party faithful, and wealthy benefactors, laying the groundwork for the stump.
There does remain one, small issue however: he simply isn't fit for the job. His mishandling of the job of Speaker alone should be enough to put anyone off handing him even more power. Yet, if that is not sufficient, his flip-flopping and tongue-wagging like the rest of his party's contenders will certainly invalidate his candidacy. What he, and his fellow Presidents-to-be, fail to understand, is that the United States will not stand for the radicalization of the White House.
Normally, I would forgive any person their faults, for being human is to be filled with hubris, to be prone to the occasional gaffe, to be rife with foibles. And yet, there is a tremendous distinction between being human and recognizing that others are also human, and being human and holding yourself and your party up as paragons of virtue, when it is clear you are not. If there is anything that invalidates a philosophy, it is hypocrisy. You cannot demand of others, what you do not possess yourself. You cannot offer the world your moral compass, when it points in any direction other than north. You certainly cannot claim to know what is best for us, when it is clear you have trouble adhering to the moral concepts you claim to follow.
The lust for power, the disregard for the rights of others in the name of “morality,” the inability to form a cohesive and comprehensive plan of action – these are the failings that most invalidate his potential candidacy. Speaking in didactic, hyperbolic, and often ridiculous terms, Newt Gingrich often sounds more like a puppet than master. He has bought into a system that has fallen so far from its roots in the time of Lincoln, as to be unrecognizable to The Great Emancipator. The party that helped free blacks from slavery, now seeks to put every less privileged class in indentured servitude to the wealthy minority. The party that oversaw the beginning of the reconstruction of the South after The Civil War, is now the party tearing down industry and business in America, and shipping it overseas on the backs of fat tax breaks. The party that at one time championed civil rights, now does everything in its power to deny them to any group they do not deem worthy.
We can ill afford a President who would look at anyone with even moderate leanings as being “on the fringe” of society. We cannot hand the reigns of power to one who will stop at nothing to re-write the Constitution and the law to fit his – and his party's – particular image of America. We also cannot assume that others will do the dirty work of keeping him from the Presidency for us, for as the mid-Term elections of 2010 showed, a passive electorate can let anything happen. It requires an active and informed citizenry to combat the creeping disingenuousness and hypocrisy that the far-right conservative movement represents, for they are not interested in our welfare, or the general welfare of the nation, only how they may retain their grip on power and line their pockets. If this man would be their standard bearer, then a message must be sent by sending him home, defeated once more.