12/13/2011

Gingrich: "I'm a Realpolitik Wilsonian"

Newt Gingrich speaks in West Des MoinesImage by IowaPolitics.com via Flickr
Posted by Brian
Is Newt Imploding...Again?

Newt Gingrich, who in nearly every poll, leads all GOP candidates for the presidential nomination, is shown in the video below espousing some extremely progressive ideas. This is disturbing, to say the least. The U.S. is only three week out from the first primary in Iowa, and Newt Gingrich is aligning his views with two of the most progressive President's to ever hold the office.  This is not a small blip for Gingrich.  This could be devastating to his chances if, and when this gets out to the conservatives in the heartland.

First, what does it mean when he says he is a "Realpolitik Wilsonian"? According to Dictionary.com's "world english dictionary" definition, it is


a
 ruthlessly realistic and opportunist approach to statesmanship, rather than a moralistic one, esp as exemplified by Bismarck
The next question is, when applied to what he says he agrees with, which are "Wilsonian" politics, what does that portend?  To do that one must understand a little of who Woodrow Wilson was, and what his philosophy was.

Wilson is generally seen as one of the most progressive people to ever hold the oval office. and was part of the "Progressive Era" from 1890 to 1920. Part of Wilson's legacy is the Federal Reserve and segregation of the military. 

Jonah Goldberg, in an excellent piece in the Christian Science Monitor, writes:


"Wilson's two terms in office provide the clearest historical window into the soul of progressivism. Wilson's racism, his ideological rigidity, and his antipathy toward the Constitution were all products of the progressive worldview."


Gingrich said that "Wilson's speeches still work".  He needs to explain what he means when he says this. One of the things that Wilson wrote is this:
In his 1890 essay, "Leaders of Men," Wilson explained that a "true leader" uses the masses like "tools." He must inflame their passions with little heed for the facts. "Men are as clay in the hands of the consummate leader."
Using terms like "the masses" and "true leader" seem more like the words coming out of the leaders of the former Soviet Union than from a former U.S. President  I believe that Mr. Gingrich should address this seeming incompatibility of conservatism and Wilsonian progressivism.





 It was during the Progressive era that Jim Crow laws were passed, aided by such Supreme Court cases as Plessy vs. Ferguson, which "upheld segregation in public accommodations so long as “separate but equal” facilities were provided for each race, setting off an orgy of legislation throughout the old Confederacy"Wilson was also a proponent of "eugenics", or improving humanity by "practices" which "improve the genetic composition of a population".  This was also the view of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, who sought to use abortion to lower the number of blacks, as she and other Progressives viewed them as weakening the the population. It wasn't until WW2 that eugenics got a bad name, as the Nazi's had used this theory to attempt to eliminate the Jews.  Now I am NOT saying that Newt Gingrich is for segregation, or eugenics, or many of the other things that Wilson represents.  I am saying that if you are going to call yourself a conservative, and then align yourself with figures who are seen as some of the most progressive in our nation's history, then that needs to be addressed. 

Gingrich also states that FDR's "Four Freedoms" still work.  The first two, freedom of speech and freedom of religion, I would agree with. They are constitutional and God-given rights. However, his third and fourth freedoms, freedom from "want" and freedom from "fear", are progressive ideas. 






Two weeks ago Newt Gingrich looked unstoppable, and I would have to agree that he has been rock solid in the debates, with virtually zero missteps for his opponents to jump on.  But many have said that Gingrich is entirely capable of imploding, knowing his past history with off-the cuff remarks.  He certainly seems to have stepped in it here.  Maybe, because it was on C-Span, he thought no one would notice.


This is a headache that Gingrich did not need three weeks out from the first primary.
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