I don’t know how many years it has been since, while looking through large, jumbled piles of used books at the County library book sale, I picked up a copy of ‘To Renew America’, What I do know is, though barely, the title beckoned. At the time, I did not even realize that America needed renewal! I also did not realize I had already been placed on a new course in my life, and this slight response to the idea of restoring America may well have been my first step in its direction. I bought the book, along with many others, brought it home & placed it on a back shelf. It became more or less forgotten.
When I first heard mention of its author’s possible intention to compete for the 2012 Presidential nomination, I remembered it once again. And after watching Newt Gingrich speak with host David Gregory on ‘Meet the Press’ this past Sunday morning, discussing that now very definite intention, I decided to find the book and start reading it.This book, published in 1995, echoes every sentiment that has spoken to me, that I have seen/heard expressed online, in person, in books, on television today, in 2011. Phrases such as “…shifting power from the bureaucracy to the citizenry…”, “…a return to…the basic principles upon which our country was founded”
and “…remaking the structure of American government”
deeply thrill me. Are not these the very hue & cry of many Americans today? Starkly contrasting our #1 Superpower status with “…an underclass of poverty and violence growing in our midst…”,
and pointing out how, (at least in ’95) many had “…lost faith in the core values, traditions, and institutions of our civilization”
rivet my attention, giving me serious, serious pause. Part Four of ‘To Renew America’
, entitled ‘The Ongoing Revolution’ quickens my heart by its very use of the ‘R’ word!, and including ‘English as the American Language’ in its contents! (Yes, America is the great melting pot, I suppose one way or another we all hail from immigrants – but Gingrich writes…“if people had wanted to remain immersed in their old culture, they could have done so without coming to America.”
He posits that immigrants need to make a clean break from their past and immerse themselves in their new home (i.e., learning the language!) in order to more fully prosper & succeed. This makes sense to me.( But I’m afraid my personal reaction is more perhaps prejudicial, I resent the hell
out of seeing ingredients on a label printed first in Spanish,or French, or whatever – then in English! This is America, people!)
And, Chapter 22 includes in its heading ‘The Right to Bear Arms’…’nuff said…
“For the past thirty years, we have been influenced to abandon our culture, and seem to have lost faith in the core values, traditions and institutions of our civilization”, writes Gingrich in 1995. He speaks of ‘intellectual nonsense’, spread since the mid-60’s, having the potential to corrupt the ability to teach coming generations how to be Americans.
Reading this struck a chord somewhere in my mind. I did some back-tracking. In ‘The Light and the Glory’, published in 1977, author Peter Marshall paints a related picture. “And then, with a suddenness that is still bewildering, everything went out of balance…our military ventures ceased to go according to the script…our young President…was assassinated…our young people began to revolt…emerging nations…were almost unanimous in their hatred of us…our economy waxed increaingly erratic…tidal wave of mental and emotional disorders…” I could go on. Marshall was referring to the period of time beginning approximately fifteen years prior – that would be…the early 1960’s. And Ronald Mann, Deputy Director of the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution, addressed the ‘rapidly deteriorating conditions’ of and the ‘betrayal and abandonment’ by much of American society in the 1970’s, a continuing result of whatever national mistakes we had been making.
( ‘The Challenge’, prefacing W.Cleon Skousen’s, The 5000 Year Leap)
“…we’re at a crossroads in our core values as a country, what does it mean to be an American…” Gingrich made this statement during his Sunday MTP interview. It sounds as if, essentially, his views today are the same ones he held in 1995, views that compelled him to write ‘To Renew America’. I think his vision for our country is clear and redemptive.
I haven’t delved into Newt Gingrich’s personal past yet, but I understand there were several marriages, and that his manner/personality has been cause for some concern. The term ‘contradictory’ has been used. “…all politicians…are contradictions. All humans are contradictions…” says Matt Bai, of the New York Times. Speaking of Gingrich’s contradictions, Matt says that “…he is a very thoughtful, history-minded individual…he can expound very thoughtfully and carefully on the currents of history. And at the same time…he has a tendency to dive into the currents of extremism very quickly…when he feels there’s a, there’s an advantage to be gained.”
Even so, senior political analyst for TIME Magazine, Mark Halperin considers Gingrich “… one of the underrated candidates in terms of his chances…”, and felt he showed his strength during the interview with David Gregory. Certainly no political analyst myself, but I got the same impression. Gingrich did not try to avoid, nor did he take any umbrage at, assertions made as to past inflammatory, or at least undisciplined, behavior/style. Or, for that matter, present comments! He did not hesitate to acknowledge past mistakes, and while I get that such actions could be viewed as smart political offensive tactic, it appeared genuine. Though it would make sense that a candidate might suppress undesirable elements of his persona when in the hotseat, it seems that this one may have achieved a good degree of genuine…transformation. Should that even-tempered demeanor hold up in the majority of circumstances & discussions yet to transpire, then we’ll know with more certainty.
(For the record, let me just say here that, as far as the ‘contradictory’ issue goes, that same label has often been applied to Thomas Jefferson.)
Gingrich got my attention. I already am seriously considering him as my candidate of choice, should he win the Republican nomination for 2012.