Peterson: Gingrich unlikable as a person but has good ideas

Ryan Peterson

I dislike the person Newt Gingrich.

However, all the reasons I dislike the person are irrelevant to the

politics. Perhaps you feel the same way about the man, but looking

at the politician Newt Gingrich is different. That is why I went to

Johnston last Thursday, to listen to Gingrich and get information

based on his political views and public actions.

Among the crowd I found a few other

students. Most individuals I spoke with were eager to hear Gingrich

speak, and like myself they wanted information to make the upcoming

decision on Jan. 3. Students expressed points like Stephen Quist’s

with the “importance for us as Iowans to make an informed

decision,” especially as the caucuses are coming up and the time to

make a political decision is coming.

Maybe you’re like Quist and “like

Gingrich’s policies on social security, some of his ideas on

welfare reform and some of his stances on medical and scientific

research.” Science and research are especially important to a

community such as Ames and I wish he would have discussed these

points more. Instead, he gave us his vision and even though there

were parts I disagreed with, overall I found it


Inspiration is what we need,

especially now as our politics degenerates and our economy

staggers. Gingrich carefully stated that “we need an American

campaign, not a Republican campaign,” and “if we truly want to

rebuild America we have to be willing to make some of our friends

very uncomfortable.” I don’t know if he was talking about our

Republican friends or Democrat friends or both, but the point is

valid. If we want a strong and successful government, we’re going

to have to make a few people uncomfortable.

Gingrich made the point that “it’s

wrong to focus on the mess; we’ve been here before.” All we seem to

focus on is how terrible things are, but we need to look at how

we’re going to solve the problems. These issues aren’t permanent;

we can fix them and look forward to the times ahead, or we can trap

ourselves by the inevitable.

He gave examples of 1979 and 1980

when we had “13 percent inflation, 22 percent interest rates, 10.8

percent unemployment, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and 444

days of a hostage crisis.” When you think about all that, we’re not

doing too bad. We made it through the Great Depression, World War I

and II, Prohibition, the Civil War, and countless other examples.

We can make it through this.

It seemed as though Gingrich wanted

to focus on where we should go and how we want to shape our country

in the future. This was the core of Gingrich’s speech and this is

where he wants us to “stop and revisit what this is all about.” In

his words it’s about a vision of America, it’s the ability for

immigrants from Serbia and Bosnia to come here, for their kids to

play baseball together, and for them to live and work


Becoming an American is about

building a future. “This is far more than debt and unemployment,”

the core of what we have comes from the Declaration of

Independence, “the document that founded everything.” Although we

may disagree on what it founded I appreciate his views of happiness

and a cooperative America.

According to Gingrich we founded

“the most radical statement of history.” It created a rule without

a ruler and fixed the strongest republican government in history.

Gingrich pointed out that it didn’t eliminate slavery, give

everyone equal rights or fix all the problems, but it gave us a

foundation from which we could.

Gingrich focuses on the “unalienable

rights endowed by our creator, which consist of life, liberty, and

happiness.” Too many people today think happiness come from wealth,

but against the paradigm he pointed out that “to live a good life

is not the same as to live a rich life.” Living a good life means

“passionate dedication to the work ethic.”

I would tend to disagree with parts

of his statement, but not everything. Ethic and work are parts of

happiness, I think passion is critical, and I appreciate his

elaboration on happiness. What we need to look into is how to help

people find avenues for their work ethic; I don’t think he would

say that people have lost it, only that they have no jobs to

exercise it.

What surprised me was that he didn’t

elaborate on his political qualifications, which may be his

strongest point. He never pushed you to vote for him, but to use

his words, “I won’t ask a single one of you to be for me, because

if you’re for me, you’ll vote and go home. What I will do is ask

you to be with me, so side-by-side for eight years we can remind

Congress of why we hired them.” He pushed the point further that he

also wanted you to remind him.

I agree with him that “we need to

grow citizenship back home,” because that’s where politics is. I

encourage you to look up his history as a politician and find his

qualifications. I also encourage you to find information on his

policies and debate with others concerning America’s course of

action. Regardless of what you think of the man, look at the

politician. The time to express your opinion is coming