If we’re all going to get in a tizzy over Mitt Romney’s past comments to the effect that he is a progressive, I think it only fair that we also work ourselves into a tizzy over some of Gingrich’s past comments — to wit, his repeated praise of big-government glorifier Franklin Delano Roosevelt, his warm words for Service Employees International Union head Andy Stern and his claim that he is a “Realpolitik Wilsonian.”
Two videos, both via The Blaze. In the first, Gingrich raves about FDR — over and over again. In the second, he proclaims himself a Wilsonian. In context, the latter doesn’t seem quite as concerning as the former, but some undertone still strikes me as ominous.
These types of videos are why I have begun to think Newt Gingrich is less a conservative than he is a type of technocrat, just as Mitt Romney is less a conservative than a pragmatist. But, on some level, that just means both are relative conservatives who really want to govern as president. People who want to run for president almost necessarily have to have a little something of the “big government bug” in them. They want to have a national administration — and immense power — at their disposal. Sure, they might seek to fill it with competent, efficient people. But they still ultimately believe they can be effective in the public sphere in a way they could not be in the private sphere — and effective on a national level in a way they could not be at a state or local level. Otherwise, they’d stay firmly in the private sector — or at the state or local level — in the first place.
Face it: Most conservatives aren’t clamoring to run for office. They’d like to live their lives and be primarily left alone, thank you very much. Those who do run might base their platforms on certain core conservative principles, but they’ll likely go about pushing those principles in a way that is very nearly inconsistent with them. Something about desiring power seems to disqualify people from deserving power.
That’s why I keep coming back to the most encouraging idea I’ve encountered in some time. According to Milton Friedman, “The way to solve problems is to make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right things.” To me, that’s the role of the Tea Party. In 2010, the Tea Party proved in a big way that it’s politically unprofitable to do the wrong things. In 2012, conservatives can prove again — by ousting Obama and electing the GOP nominee, whoever the nominee proves to be — that it’s still politically unprofitable to do the wrong things (e.g. to pass a national healthcare overhaul over the heads of protesting Americans, to bail out businesses that should have been allowed to fail, to fail to stand up for the basic right to life, etc., etc.). Then, we can set about ensuring the GOP president knows he will only be up for reelection if he or she does the right things.