What the Elections Mean to Conservatives

Report Conservatism

What the Elections Mean to Conservatives

December 14, 1994 29 min read Download Report
Newt Gingrich
50th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives

As a member of Congress during the 1980s, Speaker Gingrich fought for enactment of principled conservative policies that brought domestic and international renewal. In 19...

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What the Elections Mean to Conservatives By Representative Newt Gingrich

Dr. Edwin 1. Feulner, Jr, President of The Heritage Foundation: Ladies and gentlemen, members of the Heritage Foundation's President's Club, on behalf of all of us, thanks very much for making the special effort to be here with us today for the largest me e ting ever of our President's Club. It's an exciting time to be a conservative here in Washington, and at this time it's my very great pleasure to introduce you to the Vice Chairman of our Board of Trustees. . The victories that we're celebrating today did n 't begin last Tuesday. They started more than 20 years ago when Dick Scaife had the vision to see the need for a conservative intel- lectual movement in America. Through his foundations, he has supported think tanks, scholars, magazines, and institutes al l over America. These organizations built the intellec- tual case that was necessary before political leaders like Newt Gingrich could translate their ideas into practical political alternatives. We're all extremely proud at the Heritage Foundation that Ri chard Scaife is the Vice Chairman of our Board. Dick, will you introduce our speaker, please?

Mr. Richard M. Scaife: Whether we like it or not, our speaker this afternoon is not just a sym- bol; he is a signal. He is a signal that with political victory, t he ideological conflicts that have swirled about this nation for half a century now show clear signs of breaking into naked ideological warfare in which the very foundations of our republic are threatened and that we had better take heed. He is a signal t o us here that we had better know what we are about and that we who are so gathered must find the will and courage to stand fast and work together to revitalize indi- vidual freedom so that government can be returned to the people. Finally, he is a signal t o all Americans that our political system can and will work if we clearly understand what must be done these next two years-and that's just for openers. You all know him: an Army brat of my native Pennsylvania who has found a professional lifetime of happ i ness as the supercharged Congressman from Georgia; a whip with hooks in his tail; a reform-minded champion of the underdog, whether a disadvantaged preschooler or a blue collar guy trying to make it someplace; a streetwise intellectual; an historian; and a great patriot. We can all expect the political war to intensify, so I ask you, Congressman Gingrich, what now? Indeed, if the war is intensified, let the contest begin here and now with you, sir.

Congressman Gingrich: Well, as I was saying to this group about six months ago in May, more can happen than you might think. Let me say first of all that I am especially glad to be up here, flanked by two of the people who have really created modern conservatism. Dick Scaife is a remarkable citizen who has spent many years as a key force in sustaining conser- vative ideas and who has played a major role on the Heritage Foundation's Board. He's been a good friend and ally for a very lofig time.


Congressman Gingrich is the Speaker-designate of the U.S. House of Representatives. He addressed a meeting of The Heritage Foundation's President's Club in Washington, D.C., on November 15, 1994. ISSN 0272-1155 Q 1994 by The Heritage Foundation.

And Ed Feulner, of course, has had the creative leadership to develop what I think is without question the most wide-reaching conservative organization in the country in the war of ideas and one which has had a tremendous impact not just on Washington, but liter- ally across the planet. So to be speaking to you with these two gen t lemen on each side of me is a great honor. I'm going to talk about where we are and where we are going, but I think it's important to start with where we are and to recognize that the conflict of ideas we're in the middle of isn't just political. One of m y favorite recent examples of what it's like to be a conservative in this city occurred on Friday, when I went to make a speech at the Willard Hotel for the Washington Research Group. This was only three days after we had won a majority, and it was my firs t speech in public about what we were going to do next. So I went out and I got in a car which the Washington Research Group had sent to pick me up. It turned out to be a black Cadillac. I didn't think about it because it wasn't my car and I wasn't worried about it. I arrived down there and got out of the car and the press was all around me. The following morning in the New York Times, in an effort to prove, I think, in the re- porter's mind the inevitable selling out of populism by those who get power, the y said, "Having given up his battered Honda Accord, Congressman Gingrich stepped out of his brand new Cadillac Brougham." Now there were two things wrong with the sentence. First, I don't own a Honda Accord. I own a 1967 Ford Mustang. And second, I don't h a ve a Cadil- lac. But nobody in the reporter corps thought to check with my office before they wrote down their interpretation of what they assumed had to be conservative populist hypocrisy, which is what they're looking for. That was then picked up by New s week, which had a reference in their "Conventional Wis- dom" section about Gingrich having traded in his Honda Accord for his brand new Cadillac, which they hoped was large enough for my ego to not overfill it. Now, I cite this not to pick a fight with th e Washington press corps, but to simply say that when the Washington press corps wonders occasionally why those of us who are conserva- tive get a little tired of the degree of bias and slanting, here is an exact, explicit, trivial, factual example of the c onstant, unending barrage of distortion. And we have to all under- stand that, whether it's on the university campuses where the tenured bastions of the left continue to preach, or in the news media, or in the bureaucracy, or in the Trial Lawyers As- soci a tion (which is holding a wake this week), this election has been one battle in a long campaign. And that just as the great victory of 1980 did not in fact defeat the left, but sim- ply dealt them a reeling blow from which they gradually recovered, having w on a stunning victory this last week does not, by itself, get the job done. Now I want to talk about what happened last Tuesday, about the short run and about the long run. First of all, last Tuesday the nation voted, woke up the following day, and was de - lighted with what happened. I think that's the biggest surprise to me, frankly. It's not the size of our margin. I always said we could be somewhere between plus 20 or 25 and plus 70 and that nowhere in between would shock me. What did surprise me, and w h at we were totally unready for, was the way in which the Clinton Administration's decision to engage us directly guaranteed that the election would have consequences on a scale, psychologically, that I frankly was not prepared for and that I really experi enced for the first time at the Willard, where I saw more reporters and more cameras than I'd ever seen anywhere outside of the closing weeks of a presidential cam- paign. It was astonishing.



And this is not about Gingrich. I believe deeply in the ad vice that General Fox Connor gave to Dwight Eisenhower: that you should always take your job seriously and never your- self. Thi@ is not about me. But it is about the notion that the country has voted decisively at every level, from state legislator to co u nty commissioner to governor to the House to the Senate. There was a Republican tide in every part of the country, from Olympia Snowe's smashing victory in Maine to Pete Wilson's smashing victory in California, literally from coast to coast. You'have in G e orgia, for the first time in history, seven Republicans and four Democrats in the House delegation. We picked up five statewide seats. We have a majority on the Public Service Commission. And then you switch all the way across the country and you find in W ashington State that we went from one Republican and eight Democrats to seven Republicans and two Democrats. The astonishing result of the election is shown in the Wall Street Journal poll last Friday, the following numbers, which I just want to show you b ecause I found them so startling. "Who should take the lead in setting U.S. policy?" Congress, 55; Clinton, 30. Now I don't have the exact number-Ed may remember it-but the number in terms of Congress the last week in October was something like 17 approve , 80 disapprove. I mean this was an insti- tution which had the lowest level of approval, lower than it had during Abscam. And in two weeks, because of the election result, the American people woke up and said, "Oh, it wasn't the Congress, Stupid. It was t h e liberal Democrats." Bob Dole and I met yesterday afternoon, and we were talking about the fact that we carry a much larger burden than we would have expected because of the country's decision that it in fact wanted a new leadership team now and that it w anted the President to compro- mise with the Congress. It did not want the Congress to compromise with the President. Now, in case you wonder what that means, the Wall StreetJournal poll last Friday said, "What should Clinton do?" One, "Compromise and rev i se his agenda," 67 percent; two, "Follow through on his original promises," 28 percent. Fairly clear. A couple of others that are amazing: "How do you feel about a Republican majority in both houses of Congress?" 65 percent positive, 29 percent negative. T hat means a third of the Democrats feel good about having the Republicans in charge. "How do you feel about more conservatives being elected to the Congress?" 64 positive, 27 negative. "How do you feel about the fact that fewer people were elected who sup p ort Clinton's legis- lative agenda?" 54 positive, 38 negative. "Who has the better approach?" The choices here are Clinton or Hill Republicans. On crime: Clinton, 18; Hill Republicans, 38. On health care: Clinton, 36; Hill Republicans, 39. On jobs and the economy: Clinton, 30; Hill Republi- cans, 44. On the deficit: Clinton 23; Hill Republicans, 46. On Social Security: Clinton, 29; Hill Republicans, 42. On foreign affairs: Clinton, 36; Hill Republicans, 37. On welfare re- form: Clinton, 26; Hill Republican s , 48. It is the most astonishing affirmation of the desire for a fresh, bold, decisive change in this city that I have seen. It was captured by Charles Krauthammer's brilliant column (I believe it was on Thursday) where he said this is the most ideologica l campaign in modern times, that the Republicans said what they would do, the Democrats attacked them for what they said, the President campaigned against it, we campaigned for it, the country voted, and the Democrats lost. And I must say to his credit tha t Senator Moynihan, on the Brinkley show on Sunday, had a copy of the Contract With America, which I'm told now will be out in book form in De- cember-and Senator Moynihan said, frankly, a lot of it is pretty good and he's going to help pass a good bit of it. I thought that was very, very positive, very supportive.



Connie Mack, Senator from Florida, called me on Thursday. Marianne, my wife, and I were driving up with my daughter Jackie, an 'd we were going to drop her off in Greensboro to visit her sister. We were listening to Rush, and Rush was reading the letter w e had sent Congressman Foley, and my daughter, who works for a cellular telephone company, sug- gested that I call Rush. So I did while we were driving in South Carolina, and I called and got on the show and chatted for a couple of minutes and then found o u t later that both Bob and Corrine Michel, who were driving in from Illinois, were listening to the same show and that Connie and Priscilla Mack, who were driving to Vermont to take a break, were listen- ing. And so Connie called me, and he had two pieces o f advice for me. He said, "Be bold and be decisive." We're going to do everything that was in the Contract. Remember, our commitment is to get a vote on it. We can't guarantee we'll pass it. We're going to need your help and your ef- fort. We're probably g oing to vote on the balanced budget amendment on January the 19th and go all-out from now to then to have that be our first big smashing victory, but we're go- ing to need lots and lots of grass-roots help. The country has sent the message they want chang e , and we're going to give every member of the House a number of occasions to vote on whether he or she wants to vote with the country or to stand defiantly and say, "No, we don't believe you're serious." So you'll see every single thing in the Contract vo t ed on. We're going to have, I think, a very, very middle-class, working American, populist kick-off on the 3rd and 4th of January. We really want to recommit the Congress and the House of Representatives to truly being the people's house, and you'll see u s announce a number of things. Congressman Jim Nussle is doing a great job as leader of the transition team and Congressman Dick Armey, who'll be the majority leader, is doing a great job. Congressman John Kasich is already work- ing with The Heritage Foun d ation and others on developing new ideas and new approaches to move to a balanced budget. It's a huge challenge. What I'd like to do, though, for a couple of minutes is focus on putting this immediate short-term challenge in strategic context. I want to m a ke the case that there are two critical paths to whether or not we're going to succeed. First, we have to win the definitional argument about how America works. I won't talk about that at length here today, but that's the centerpiece, this fancy language; that's the sine qua non, that without which nothing else can happen, because as long as the left can de- fine America in their terms, we can't win. So it's very important to understand that the central challenge for the next six months is to accelerate ou r campaign to win the intellec- tual fight over how you define a successful country and what the wellsprings of American behavior are. The second thing we have to do-and I'm going to shock some of my friends-is we have to engage in a deep, thorough dialogu e with th@ American people on how to shrink the federal government to achieve a balance. We cannot replace the social engineering by the left with a social engineering of the right. We cannot have only 435 House members, a hundred Senators, and a President decide in Washington on a trillion, 500 billion dollars a year, a huge quantity of money: over eight tril- lion dollars over a five-year budget. That can't be decided and redesigned and reinvented by the elected officials and their staffs. So we're going to have to have Heritage's help and help from everybody else who wants to help us engage and design a dialogue that is a sin- cere and a serious outreach to the entire nation and that gives the nation a chance.


But I want to make clear the sequence her e. I have no interest in engaging in a debate with those who would raise taxes. That issue is over; it's gone; we're not going to do it. On Friday, I used the phrase, "Cooperation, yes; compromise, no." And a number of peo- ple said, "But how can you talk about governing if you're not going to compromise?" The point is this: This country has been voting since 1968 against the Great Society. The track record is unending. The only two Democrats to win since 1968 both ran as New Democrats. Jimmy Carter was an outside reformer who was not a liberal and proud of it. Bill Clinton ran as a New Democrat who favored middle-class tax cuts, reinventing government, welfare re- form. Look at the track record. In 1967, Lyndon Johnson's Great Society and the countercul- t u re's values began the destruction of the Democratic Party and the destruction of the poor. It has been getting steadily worse since 1967. The country has voted over and over to change it. As recently as 1992, a majority of the country voted for Bush and P e rot, both of them committed to being against the welfare state. The facts are clear. Once you accept the premise we're going to go in this direction-we're going to replace the welfare state, we're going to reassert American civilization, we're going to de v elop the opportunity society, we're going to move into the information age, we're going to compete in the world market, and we're going to reassert civic responsibility-then anybody who's willing to work within that framework is someone we want to have a t otal dialogue with, and we want to accept good ideas from everybody who agrees on the general direction. But we don't particularly want to have a single ounce of compromise with those who still be- lieve that they can somehow improve and prop up and make w ork a bureaucratic welfare state and a counterculture set of values which are literally killing the poor. Now to prove that I really am a professor, I want to walk through very quickly a set of ideas I developed originally as a synopsis for a Cobb County C hamber of Commerce train- ing program for leadership. I want to walk you through a couple of big ideas because this will give you a sense of where I believe we have to go in the next two years. I think that Drucker's The Effective Executive is the best si n gle book on citizenship for the Z1st century. Drucker is a remarkable student of management, and every citizen in the in- formation age is in fact an executive. And I believe that the new edition of Alvin Toffler's Creating a New Civilization: The Politic s of the Third Wave, which was produced by the Progress and Freedom Foundation, gives you a sense of the direction we have to move in in terms of the information age. I believe that to solve problems-this is a model I use very explicitly and will use in th e Speaker's Office-there is a four-layer hierarchy of vision, strategies, projects, and tactics. This is part of what confuses the Washington news media and the Washington estab- lishment. We have a very clear general vision, which I'm going to give you in just a minute. We're trying to design a series of strategies within that vision. Projects are the building blocks of a strategy, and a project, in my mind, because it's an entrepreneurial model, is a definable, delegateable achievement. It's getting somet h ing done. And finally, you have to have tac- tics that fit where you're going. For example, we've already decided there will be a very low-cost dinner on the night of January 3rd, open to any middle-class working American who can get here, so that everybo dy can participate in taking their Congress back because that sets the right signal, tactically, for who's involved-which is everybody. Now, that's what I mean.


The model of the left has been fairly clear: that redistributionism works, take from those who are successful, give to those who aren't. The counterculture's values don't require a work ethic, don't require savings, don't require studying. (After all, those are judgmental.) Bureaucracies are smarter than citizens; that's why we hire your cousin to tell you what to do with your money. I mean, it is a coherent model. You may disagree with it, but it's at least a rational model, and it's a pretty good predictor of how they behave. They never cam- paign on it because they'd get killed, but that is i n fact an accurate description of what they will do. Well, we're trying to communicate to the press corps, "Don't expect us to be a cheaper version of them. Don't expect us to spend much of our time being negative about them." We are building and communica t ing a new, positive vision of renewing American civiliza- tion, and we're communicating a new set of positive strategies. First of all, I want to talk for a second about renewing American civilization. I do not be- lieve we are faced with a political prob l em. I believe we are faced with a crisis of our civilization. I got into huge trouble the last weekend of the campaign over having com- mented on the terrible tragedy of a mother killing her two children in South Carolina. In fact, I have, all year, taken whatever the most recent tragedy was in whatever town I was campaigning in and tied it together with the following paragraph, which I will defend any- where in America as a history teacher: It is impossible to maintain civilization with 12-year-olds havin g babies, with 15-year-olds killing each other, with 17-year-olds dying of AIDS, and with 18-year-olds getting diplomas they can't even read. I believe that even in the most utopian society, it is the nature of humans that tragedies will occur. But these a r e not just isolated tragedies. We have tolerated the rise of a decadent society in which brutality and barbarism are accepted on a scale that is not imaginable to any decent person, and this is a crisis across the entire civilization. Things happen in you r national capital which should not be tolerated. Now, I use English quite deliberately: "not tolerated." That means we should take the steps necessary to stop them: not just complain about them, not just gripe about them, but stop them. I tell people that part of the key to American civilization is it's a very muscular civilization. The State of New Hampshire during the American Revolution adopted as its slogan, "Live free or die." It did not adopt as its slogan, "Live free or whine." So we have to take a v ery strong position. I think that there are five parallel changes we have to make, and we badly need The Heri- tage Foundation's help, intellectually, in helping us understand how to make them because they have to occur simultaneously. All five have to be occurring in an interlocked synergis- tic pattern for it to work. The first is the transition from a bureaucratic, mechanical, second wave society to an infor- mation age, third wave society. I'm using Alvin Toffier's model where he said the first wave wa s agriculture, the second wave was industry, the third wave is information. Very simple example: A good friend of mine, Chester Rausch, went from Carrollton, Georgia, to Rome, Italy, and put his bank teller card in the machine. It lit up on the screen in 1 1 languages; he touched English. It asked how much money he wanted; he put in the amount. It verified his account, validated his limit, and gave him the money in four seconds. Call the federal government and ask about a veteran's case. Let me make somethin g clear, though, because I think this is one of the places that we conservatives went wrong in the late '70s. This is not because government workers are stu- pid or lazy. This is because we have a management information structure in the government



th ree generations behind the curve. And we need to rethink it not just in the government, but in this society. With distance learning, distance medicine, and distance work, we could liberate rural America in a way which would raise the quality of life, incr e ase the take-home pay, and raise the range of choices for people in an explosion of new opportunities. And yet, the IRS is doing exactly the wrong thing. It is making it harder to have an office at home at a time when it should be making it easier to have an office at home. Now, that's an example of the scale of change. The second major change we have to have is a thorough inventory of America to make sure that we are competitive in the world market. Let me make it very clear here. We are in the world mark e t. You couldn't get out of the world market if you wanted to. We are perma- nently in the world market. The question is, are we going to win and become competitive and be successful in the world market? I would argue that we should have an inventory which reviews litigation, regulation, taxation, education, welfare, health, the structure of government-looks at all of it and says, "All right, how do we make sure ?" Children in Georgia are not now being educated to compete with Florida and Alabama. They're b e ing educated to compete with Germany, Japan, and China, and I would argue that that requires a minimum of two hours of homework a night if they're not going to be cheated of their ca- pacity to compete. Unlike liberals, that does not lead me to believe we now, therefore, have to have a federal department of homeworker checkers. What it leads to me to suggest to you is that we need to ask all parents to take seriously the education of their children. We need to ask them to see the teacher and ask for two ho u rs of homework. We need for them to get a better teacher if the current teacher won't assign it. And, in the interim, we need for them to as- sign the homework because America historically has been a country where we get the job done; we don't find scapeg o ats for the failures. I was taught how to read by my grandmother. General George Marshall was taught by his aunt. Historically, we had a team effort, and I want to come back to that in a minute, but I think we have to decide we're going to change whatever rules we have to change so that our children have the best jobs on the planet with the highest value added, with the best pro- ductivity, with the highest take-home pay, instead of the greatest range of choices of lifestyle. That's going to be our goal fo r every American. The third thing we have to do is literally replace the welfare state with an opportunity so- ciety. I was a little surprised on Sunday and Monday because I was asked what should our focus be in dealing with the very poor. I believe we sho u ld have a conscious strategy of dra- matically increasing private charities. I believe that private charities are more effective, are less expensive, and are better for the people they're helping. I want to make the following case, and I'm prepared to fig h t this out in virtually any arena that we can arrange. There is an enormous moral burden, but not on those of us who would replace the welfare state. There is an enormous moral burden on those who would keep the poor trapped in public systems that are des t roying them. The burden of destroying the poor is on the left. It is the left which traps the poor in public housing projects where no one goes to work. It is the left which traps the poor in public school buildings in the inner city where virtually no on e educates. It is the left which keeps the poor in neighborhoods where they insist on putting violent criminals back on the street to prey upon the innocent. And it is the left which has designed a tax code and a welfare code which destroy families. I'll g ive you two examples. If you earn $11,000 a year today and you marry somebody who earns $11,000 a year, by the act of marriage, at $22,000 joint income, you lose $4,600 in your



earned income tax credit. Now do you wonder why children are born outside of marriage when the government punishes you by $4,600 out of a $22,000 joint income? Now a second example. Bret Schundler, the brilliant mayor of Jersey City, who I believe is the leading practical reformer in America today, told me last night some asto u nding num- bers. He said that there is a high school in Newark which graduates four percent of its entering class. The Newark schools currently spend $12,000 per student, which means that over the 13 years they're in school, you're currently paying $3,900 , 000 per graduate. What he did was simple. He said take the amount spent per child, take the number of years per child, and, if you're graduating four percent, figure out that's every 25th child. You take those numbers, and it comes out to-I know it's righ t mathematically; it just strikes me as being so nutty that it's hard to believe. Well, if you went around America and said to the average poor family in America, "If you'll figure a way to get your kid to read, we'll give you $3 million," my guess is most of them would say, "I can find somebody in the family." And again, you see all the pressures, because Mayor Schundler is prepared to put his ca- reer on the line to get a full experiment in vouchers, and he's getting resistance in the New Jersey Assembly f rom people who are frightened of the Teachers' Union and don't want to have a full experiment. I really hope that the New Jersey legislature will decide to give one courageous figure an opportunity to have a complete, full-blown experiment on his own term s . I would argue that when you learn that you're paying $1,700 per child in a Catholic elementary school where 96 percent learn how to read and write, and you're paying $9,200 per child in a school across the street where 26 percent are passing the minimum standard, maybe it's time we put the children first and found ways to get the children into places that work, rather than keep the children trapped so that public bureaucracies can keep taking the money whether they perform or not. The fourth big change a f ter moving into the information age, learning how to compete ag- gressively in the world market, and replacing the welfare state with an opportunity society is to reassert American exceptionalism. Let me make this quite clear. It's Everett Caril Ladd's te r m, a professor at the University of Connecticut; he's exactly right. I have been profoundly moved by the works of Professor Gordon Woods of Brown University on the American Revolution. His two greaE works, The Orikins of the American Revolution and The Ra d icalism of the American Revolution, are worth your time. They're very serious works and for me at least, help me reestablish my understanding of what America was all about. America exists. There is an American civilization. People come to America from all over the world to be American. If they wanted to be Somalian or Thai or German, they have countries they can stay in. They don't want to be. They want to become American. They want their children to have a scale of freedom, a scale of opportunity, a range of the right to pursue happiness unparalleled anywhere on the planet. And they're extraordinarily proud to become American. You see this in Elia Kazan's great work, America, America, and his descrip- tion of the Armenians and how they felt when they saw a rusty merchant ship with an American flag. You see it again and again. You see it when you think about Colin Powell, a first-generation American whose parents had come here from the West Indies. You see it in John Shalikashvili, who himself emigrated to A m erica at the age of eight or nine and is a graduate of Bradley University. It is a remarkable thing to be American, and yet the phrase "to be American" implies that there is a set of characteristics that are American. I believe there are. I believe that w e are a multiethnic society but one civilization. Our friends on the left believe that we are multicul-



tural. I'm told there was a TV show (I didn't see it) which describes a public high school in Berkeley, California, which now organizes groups as tribes. I believe that is explicitly de- structive of American civilization. I believe every individual in Am e rica has the right to be considered as an individual: not as part of a tribe or a group, but as an individual. - One of my suggestions for the near future is that we look seriously from Head Start through college at teaching the Declaration of Independenc e ,- and I want to cite one sen- tence because it's so powerful. In a document written, you'll remember, by Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson, it says, "We are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursu i t of happiness." I think there are three things to learn just from that one sentence, and I'd love to see every child wrestle with this once a year just as a part of learning about America. First of all, the pursuit of happiness implies active engagement. Pursuit comes from an active verb, to pursue. It doesn't suggest pursuit stamps, a Department of Happiness, or happiness ther- apy; nor does it guarantee final result. It doesn't say the achievement of happiness; it says the pursuit. And, of course, it wa s intimately bound up in freedom and private property be- cause in the original wording, it was the right to possess, the pursuit of possession of property, not the pursuit of happiness. Second, rights are unalienable. This is the most radical assertion of human rights ever in history. Your power doesn't come from lawyers or academics. Your power doesn't come from the government. That's why the Clinton health plan was exactly backwards. The right to choose your doctor in America is unalienable. The right fo r you to have power is unalien- able. You loan power to the government; the government does not loan power to you. That's the core. And, finally, in what in the modern era has become the most controversial part of this speech, it actually suggests your rig h ts come not from a committee. I always thought that if the counterculture were trying to write this today, it would read, "Being randomly gathered protoplasm, we have rationally concluded that for the moment, the situation implies that the following tempo r ary rights might be there-subject to further dialogue later." Those things government should do, it should do brilliantly. It should be the best on the planet. But they should be very few things. I never got this until Gordon Woods explained it and really said to me, "Study Jefferson." His point was this: Jefferson knew that in a free society, rebuilding and renewing and strengthening your culture and society was absolutely vital because it underpinned everything else. Teaching and practicing and organizin g things to ensure civic responsibility was vital because it liberated scales of energy nobody else could get. And creating free markets, entrepreneurship, private property, and the right to pursue happiness was central because it would liberate energy on a scale that no other soci- ety had ever seen. Therefore, you had to keep government limited because otherwise it would crowd out the other three functions. So when you come to a problem or an opportunity, you should first ask, "Gee, what's the cultural an d society answer," and then ask, "What does civic responsibility have to do," and then ask, "What do we do in the private sector?" And only at the end say, "Now, what's the limited part of the assignment that goes to government?" When I opposed midnight ba s ketball this summer, it wasn't because I'm opposed to mid- night basketball. If your church or your synagogue, if your YMCA or YWCA, if your Boy Scouts or your Girl Scouts, if your local community, if your private business-if you think it is helpful to mi nimize crime in the summertime to have young people playing midnight bas-


ketball, that's fine. But the idea that we have to establish a federal bureaucracy to hire full- time bureaucrats to encourage children to stay out-that struck me as nutty. Let m e make just two quick last points. I appreciate you letting me talk this long, and I apologize for making it so elaborate, but I do think this is central to where we're going. Leadership, having thought through where it's going with vision and strategies a nd projects and tactics, having applied the model I've described for you today, then has to turn to the American people and listen, learn, help, and lead. We have to go into every poor neighbor- hood in America and say, "If we're going to replace the disa s ter you're currently trapped in with a world you want your children to live in, what would it look like?" And we have to work with -every poor person who's willing to work with us. We have to go into every com- munity. Next week, when Bob Dole and I go do w n to the Republican Governors meeting in Wil- liamsburg (which, by the way, is somewhat larger now than people thought it would be), we're going to discuss the range of opportunities that are out there. Because we want to say to the governors in this very same model, which I'm going to be sharing with them, "Tell us how much you're prepared to take back and we'll send it." So we need to go back out not just to preach and to talk, but to say, "If you're willing to go in the same direction of renewing Americ a as we are, let us listen to you. Tell us your worries, your fears, your concerns, your practical knowledge of your neighborhood and your life and what it's going to take to make this work." This is not going to happen overnight. We're not going to cut a G ordian knot, because we're talking about human beings and we're not going to cut human beings. This is exactly like the invention of the New Deal where Franklin Roosevelt and his team experimented and experimented and experi- mented. The difference is whe r e they were acquiring power for Washington, we're giving power out back home; but it's the same process of experimentation. Finally, let me suggest to you-and I say this because it's important to understand how we have mismanaged government in Washington- t he role of the leader in a free society is, first, to set an agenda and communicate goals and standards. It is, second, to convey sym- bolic power. Why am I at The Heritage Foundation? Because this is an important center of ideas in America and I want to c ome here as the next Speaker and say I am glad you're par- ticipating and I'm glad you're involved. I did not go to some left-wing group that thought raising taxes and building bureaucracies work. They didn't invite me; but if they had, I wouldn't have go n e. Third, it's important to gather resources outside the government-and this is again, by the way, an example of the great failure of conservatism. When the press corps found the problem of the homeless, if we had said in the summer of 1981, "Let's invite every church and synagogue in America to send a representative to a national meeting. Now let's chal- lenge every church and synagogue in America to adopt one homeless person for six months. Now let's have a second meeting and have you tell us what you've learned by trying to actu- ally help these people," we would, by the summer of 1992, have had a radically better understanding of the problem without a single new government bureaucracy and would have been moving dramatically towards solving a problem whi c h to this day, despite billions of tax-paid expenditures, continues to be a problem that should shame every American. That's a very different model of behavior than saying, "I found a problem. Let's invent a bureaucracy." If we are merely a political vict ory, if this is just the liberal old gang being replaced by the new conservative gang, then we have truly failed our country. I believe with all of my heart



that we are now launched on a great journey, that we are truly going to reach out in this ci ty to every poor person of every background, that the poorest child in America in the worst neighborhood, whether they're on an American Indian reservation where they have been trapped and where their lives often end in alcoholism and suicide, or they're a poor child in East L.A. or Atlanta or here in Washington, D.C., and they may be into drug addiction and prostitution and violence and have no sense of hope, that the work that is ahead of every person in this room is to decide that civic responsibility a n d renewing American civilization is about us. I don't know how to do this. No person knows how to do this. This is one of those great historic moments when we have to reach out with big hearts and with a willingness to listen to everybody and a willingnes s to make mistakes and get up off the ground and come back and try again and a willingness to reach out to any group of any background, liberal, conser- vative, Democrat, Republican-anybody who's willing to say, "Hey, helping this country be healthy and sa f e again really matters." But I'll give you the yardstick for you to judge it against. If we have a Monday morning in the not too distant future, maybe by the year 2000, where you wake up and you turn on the morning news and not a single American child has been killed in the entire weekend, and you look out of your door and you see children going happily to a building where they.actu- ally learn, and you know that in your town, people who want to get off of welfare and out of poverty have found it surprisin g ly easy to open their small business and that they actually have a tax code and a regulatory code that is encouraging them to be productive, and you know that the last drug dealer was driven from America three months earlier and we ha- ven't seen one sinc e , and you know you have representatives who pay attention and there are town hall meetings regularly and that when you want to know what's going on in the Congress, you turn on C-SPAN and when a brand new bill is introduced, you just call it up on your ho m e computer because it's as available to you at the same second as to the richest, best Washington lobbyist-when those things have happened, then we can say this revolu- tion has succeeded. And that future, it seems to me, is worth every one of us giving o f our money, of our life, of our courage, or to quote the Founding Fathers, that is worth our lives and our fortune and our sacred honor.

Thank you, good luck, and God bless you.




Newt Gingrich

50th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives