Let me start by saying I have always listened to what Newt Gingrich has to say. I have not always agreed with him, and his past personal history is cloudy at best, but he has always been a font of ideas in a sometimes barren political landscape. Just this past summer I proudly signed the petition to “Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less,” and had considerable pride in the fact that partly due to that campaign congress did eventually move, albeit too slowly, in the right direction on that issue. But lately Mr. Gingrich has strayed into waters I feel are better left unstirred as we look to rebuild the Republican Party.
Recently, Gingrich was on The O’Reilly Factor warning of “gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us.” At a time when unemployment is stretching towards 7%, the big three automakers are on the verge of bankruptcy, and the only retailer not losing money is discount king Wal-Mart, Gingrich wants conservative to focus on “gay and secular fascism?”
This is not what the Republican Party needs to rebuild a governing majority.
On his website visitors are asked to sign a petition on behalf of insufficient references to God in the new Capitol Visitor Center, and his new book/DVD entitled Rediscovering God in America is currently a best seller. His appeal is still wide among conservatives, but he needs to lend his considerable influence to causes that will untie across the spectrum, not just social conservatives.
I know it has become an annual Christmas season talking point- the fact the secular progressives are taking God out of Christmas, and I am just as upset as the next guy when a local town takes down a nativity scene so as not to offend the 10-15% of citizens who are not at least nominally Christian. However, there are lots of people making those arguments; we need our most influential voices focusing on ideas that are most pressing to the nation at large.
How are we going to stimulate the economy?
What should be done about the increasing tensions in India/Pakistan?
How can we avert the next energy crisis?
These are the issues conservatives need to address, and address with new and innovative ideas, if we are to reclaim our hold on the hearts and minds of Middle America. Not gay marriage, not God, not even abortion, will do as the nation faces our current array of problems. That is not to say we need to give up on these issues; they are central to who we are as a party. But, as has been stated numerous times this past election cycle, the nation is essentially centrist. So bringing out divisive social issues as a way of rebuilding the party is a sure way to rebuild an eternally minority party, which would be disastrous, both for Republicans and for the nation.
The unfortunate result of the recent Republican electoral nightmare is that the only people left standing tend to be the most hard-line conservatives. The moderates, who brought balance to the party as a whole, have largely been defeated by conservative democrats helped by the tsunami that was Obama’s presidential campaign.
It is vitally important in the coming year to create a party that will attract not just the most conservative among us, but also the moderates and even some centrist Democrats. This is not just sound electoral strategy, it is also the only way we can solve the problems America faces.