Merely mentioning politics today gives rise to sequential eye rolls, groans, and headshakes. Campaign speeches imbued with empty rhetoric oftentimes leave Americans exasperated, suspecting that candidates possess little knowledge of the issues discussed.  Politicking in 2012 appears be nothing short of conventional.

GOP candidates, recurrently garnering media attention for their inanity rather than insight, have yet to recoup Americans’ faith in politics. In fact, last month’s Gallup polls revealed unprecedented levels of cynicism regarding our political system and the electoral process. Congress’ job approval rating stands at a meager 17%, the worst in Gallup history, and 70% of Americans “can’t wait for the campaign to be over.”

To make matters worse, Americans are learning very little from this dreaded campaign process. After enduring over twenty debates, voters are still uncertain who they will support come November,[1] while those who have decided on a candidate remain unenthused.  Even the candidates themselves have grown weary of debating, a process that Romney’s strategist Stuart Stevens aptly refers to as “a cruise that’s gone on too long.”

The only person that seems to have truly benefited from the primary debates is intellectual giant Newt Gingrich, whose ratings soared in the initial debate period.  The New York Times bestselling author churns out numerous books each year, devises solutions on issues ranging from health care to UN insufficiencies, and sets up think tanks like neighborhood lemonade stands. Americans were relieved to find a candidate who could name three government agencies with ease and had a list of exclusively consensual extramarital affairs; for a fleeting moment, Gingrich was the favored GOP gem.

But then, Gingrich attacked Romney’s private-sector success. This unfounded criticism, a potentially fatal blow to his conservative platform, reminded America of his careerist tendencies and lack of real world experience, both of which may have precipitated the once-frontrunner’s downfall.

Gingrich’s characterization of Romney’s Bain Capital venture is not merely simplistic, but truly perverse. On NBC’s Today show, Gingrich strayed from his pro-capitalist rhetoric and described how private equity is inconsistent with “traditional capitalism.”  Private equity, Gingrich explained, is a process in which “somebody comes in, takes all the money out of your company and then leaves you bankrupt while they go off with millions.”

Many have already condemned Gingrich’s economic analysis.  Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani told Fox and Friends that Gingrich’s “ignorant populist view of the economy” was not only incorrect, but also “bad for the republican party.”  Perhaps if Gingrich spent more time outside of the beltway, he would appreciate private equity as an example of the natural cycle of capitalism.  Private equity firms acquire businesses, paying owners a large sum of money to be reinvested elsewhere.  The purchased business is developed and improved via the firm’s resources and capital, and then sold or taken public, thereby creating value for the private equity company’s investors. Although businesses do not always do as well as planned, the process is generally one of value creation.

America does not need a member of Mensa to run the country, but someone with a deep understanding of the real world and real economy will be crucial to get America back on track.  Gingrich hoped to benefit from exposing Romney as a capitalist raider, but many Republicans have now realized that the candidate’s experience as a private sector “vulture capitalist” is actually his greatest attribute.


Alex Rued :: Hamilton College :: Clinton, New York :: @AMRued