Sunday, May 20, 2012

Newt Gingrich's Lessons Learned the Hard Way 7

As I have read Newt Gingrich's Real Change and Lessons Learned the Hard Way, I have wondered something: Does Newt believe that the Republicans should adopt the tactics of the Democrats?  Newt says that the Democrats are more effective at governing than Republicans (though Newt thinks that the Democratic policies are bad for the country), that the Democrats are more cohesive, and that the Democrats enforce group-think, whereas the Republicans have more independent thought in their ranks.

My impression has been that Newt thinks that the Republicans can learn things from the Democrats.  He says in Real Change that Republicans need to learn how to govern as a majority party, rather than retaining the minority party mindset that they had even when they were in the majority.  In Lessons Learned the Hard Way, Newt tells the story about how conservative activist Paul Weyrich was mistakenly invited to "a liberal meeting on civil rights issues", and, when Weyrich observed the cohesion and the coordination of strategy at that meeting, he went on to establish "a whole raft of conservative organizations and institutions" (page 107).  Newt also expresses admiration for Ted Kennedy for how Ted consistently pushed his liberal agenda over the years, and that is consistent with Newt's view that the Republicans likewise should have a vision and take the offense in pushing the agenda that they think is best for the country.

At the same time, Newt supports the independent and entrepreneurial spirit of Republicans, as opposed to the enforced group-think that exists in the Democratic Party.  Newt actually sees a little bit of himself in the House conservatives who sought to overthrow him as Speaker.  And Newt also expresses admiration for Ohio Congressman (now Governor) John Kasich, even though Newt disagreed with Kasich's stance against the B-2 bomber and a budget that Kasich was promoting.  Newt believes that the Republican Party is best when it is open to fresh, outside-of-the-box, and even dissident ideas.

I do not know as much about the Congress as Newt Gingrich does, but I question his model that the Democrats are a party of leftist group-think, whereas the Republicans tolerate dissent.  There may be truth to that, but I don't think it's the whole story.  The Democrats, after all, have the Democratic Leadership Council, which is more conservative.  Moreover, the Blue Dog Democrats were skeptical about Barack Obama's health care plan.  And the Republicans have exercised their share of party discipline, as occurred with regards to the prescription drug benefit.

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