Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House, is running for President. He’s got a good shot of winning the nomination, and a decent chance of beating Obama if he gets the nomination.

His last name isn’t Romney, which means that much of the Republican electorate is comfortable voting for him.  He isn’t basing his candidacy on social issues, which means the media will have less of a cudgel to beat him with.  He’s got a quick tongue, debates well, and easily shows the contemptible media narratives for what they are.  Newt has a history of ushering in conservative government, and helped bring the Contract With America into effect.  His time as Speaker was seen as the spiritual successor to the Reagan revolution, and it restrained the Clinton administration until the budgetary crisis.  Newt is a big ideas guy, with a plethora of obscure policy specialities. He’s the consummate insider, who can quickly peel apart the layers of bureaucracy in Washington.

If you’re giving the issues a quick once-over, Newt looks like a viable solution.

Newt’s stance on Obamacare looks good.  He’d repeal it.  Newt wants to implement an optional flat tax, a huge improvement over the current tax code.  His website says that his stance on foreign policy is based on Reaganesque principles of ‘Peace through Strength.’  Newt supports a border fence, and I really like his path to easier legal immigration (I’m Canadian, and I want to move to Texas).

However, I bought into the image of the candidate too early; before I did my homework. I’ve done some more research, and I’d like to share it with you. The problem with Newt isn’t the appearance, it’s the substance.

Newt Gingrich is the Barack Obama of the 2012 GOP Primary.  Great at showmanship, great at giving the base the soundbites they want.  But once you dig down to the fundamental beliefs of the candidate, Newt Gingrich doesn’t espouse the policies that Conservatives have been clamouring for.

Yes, he opposes Obamacare.  But until Obamacare roused the Tea Party, and proved once and for all that Americans will not stand for an individual mandate, Newt Gingrich supported the individual mandate.  Maybe it’s just me, but blatant political calculation shouldn’t be ignored.  That’s the reason that people are looking for the not-Romney candidate, right?  We can all agree that Romney’s underlying philosophy isn’t necessarily the same as what his stated policy goals are.  There’s nothing wrong with doubting Romney based on his past choices; but the same can be said for those who are arguing against Gingrich.  For example, both men supported Romneycare.

Newt has a decent plan on taxes, I’ll give him that. I think Perry had a more ideal flat tax; and Romney’s plan is more realistically able to pass, but again.  On paper, Newt looks good.

I can’t talk about Gingrich and the economy without noting the “King of Bain” documentary that a Gingrich supporting SuperPAC released.  Essentially, it bashes Mitt Romney for being a Venture Capitalist.  Newt has now said that if the claims aren’t true, they need to be corrected; but he hit Romney repeatedly from that same angle of attack.

On foreign policy, Newt comes across well, but I think the remaining candidates (with the exception of Ron Paul) are virtually interchangeable, policy wise. They’d all be strong in the War on Terror, and that’s what really matters.

Now, immigration. There are a LOT of issues here.  Newt supports, as he keeps trying to explain in debates, a local citizen’s panel to decide if the illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay (in his words, it’s similar to the World War II Selective Service Boards). Is Newt unaware that liberal areas that favor amnesty, such as San Francisco, would legalize every illegal immigrant they could?  I’m much more in favor of Romney’s plan of aggressively going after employers who hire illegal immigrants, cutting off the incentive to enter the country illegally.

Newt’s philosophy on government is a bit on the scary side.  If you’ve listened to the Glenn Beck radio show at all in the last couple of weeks, you’ve heard clips of Newt talking about how he is a “Realpolitik Wilsonian“, or how his favorite President is FDR.  As a conservative, that worries me; I’m not a fan of Wilson, nor Roosevelt.  Both men ran internment camps.  Both men trended towards a dictatorship.  Although the heroic Presidency of Calvin Coolidge undid many of the wrongs that Wilson ushered in, FDR’s legacy is the cause of many of the country’s major problems today. Why would a conservative who favors small government choose FDR, who advocated the Second Bill of Rights, as his favorite President?  Newt Gingrich is not who he is portraying himself as.

Let’s review.

  • Newt supported the individual mandate for healthcare (including Romneycare).
  • Newt’s attacks on Romney’s capitalistic efforts are disingenuous at best, reminiscent of Teddy Roosevelt’s New Nationalism at worst.
  • Newt’s position on immigration is naive at best, pandering at worst.
  • Newt is a fan of the most prominent big-government President, and knows enough history to give credit to Woodrow Wilson as well.

I don’t really like Romney, because I want a true conservative nominee. Preferably, the nominee would have no black spots of universal healthcare on his record.

But whether or not you like Romney; Gingrich just isn’t the true Conservative we’ve all been looking for. If you thought so, think again.

Luke Stibbs :: University of the Fraser Valley :: Maple Ridge, British Columbia :: @LukeStibbs