(editor’s note: Newt Gingrich appears to be on a very short list to be Donald Trump’s running mate.)
Have you ever wondered what was the spark that turned what was once a conservative party into a far right wing party? Over at Vox, Andrew Prokop interviews Norm Ornstein from the American Enterprise Institute about the rise of Donald Trump. Before a Trump could rise, the ground had to be prepared to grow such a product:
How the Republican Party got to this point
“Andrew Prokop: Your main culprit for Trump’s rise is the Republican Party, and Republican leaders specifically. Can you walk me through how you think the party got here?
Norm Ornstein: Back in 1978, when I first came to AEI (editor’s note: American Enterprise Institute), Tom Mann and I set up a series of small, off the record dinners with some new members of Congress. And one of them, Newt Gingrich, stood out right away. As a brand new member of the House, he had a full-blown theory of how Republicans could break out of their seemingly permanent minority, and build a majority.
And over the next 16 years, he put that plan into action. He delegitimized the Congress and the Democratic leadership, convincing people that they were arrogant and corrupt and that the process was so bad that anything would be better than this. He tribalized the political process. He went out and recruited the candidates, and gave them the language to use about how disgusting and despicable and horrible and immoral and unpatriotic the Democrats were. That swept in the Republican majority in 1994.
The problem is that all the people he recruited to come in really believed that shit. They all came in believing that Washington was a cesspool. So what followed has been a very deliberate attempt to blow up and delegitimize government, not just the president but the actions of government itself in Washington.
And Republican leaders, like Mitch McConnell and Eric Cantor, were complicit in this. I think when Republicans had their stunning victory in 2010, Cantor et al thought they could now co-opt these people. Instead, they were co-opted themselves.
Gingrich’s delegitimization of the government was adopted by Republicans of all stripes. Republicans oddly ran against the government to take over the government. Whereas government had for a long time been “of the people, by the people and for the people” as stated by Abraham Lincoln (Gettysburg Address), Republicans made it seem that once anyone entered the government they became an enemy of those who had elected them.”
This attitude is probably best summed up by the Ronald Reagan campaign line “ The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
Since that time Republicans have run as though government is the enemy. When Republicans win they do all they can to make sure that our government is the enemy of the vast majority of citizens. They govern only for betterment of the rich and corporations. Thanks to media lapdogs, Republicans have been able to convince that their bad policy is the fault of Democrats.