26 January 2012

Gingrich vs. the Establishment

The former Speaker of the House is in Florida today, running as an "outsider" to the chagrin of those who take for granted that, once an insider, one can never be an outsider again. The former governor of Massachusetts had wanted to run as "the outsider" on the premise that he had spent most of his life in the private sector, though it was quickly noted that he has spent nearly a generation now running for one office or another. Gingrich has been out of political power for more than thirteen years. He has been portrayed as a lobbyist since then, though he rejects the label, but depending on your audience merely being called a lobbyist begs the question of whom you lobby for. In any event, Gingrich seems to have grown some Teflon, since the "insider" charge has not stuck sufficiently so far to alienate his most ardent supporters. On the offensive, Gingrich portrays himself as a permanent outsider, implying that his short tenure as Speaker might be traced to his incompatibility with Washington insiders. His imperative for the moment is to tap into the original current of populism that energized the Tea Party movement. This means risking the wrath of orthodox Republicans and conservatives by reawakening TP anger at Wall Street as well as Washington, as long as Wall Street is identified exclusively with Mitt Romney and his supporters. Thus the candidate in Mount Dora today:

Remember: The Republican establishment is just as much as an establishment as the Democratic establishment, and they are just as determined to stop us. Make no bones about it. This is a campaign for the very nature of the Republican Party and the very opportunity for a citizen conservatism to defeat the power of money and to prove that people matter more than Wall Street and that people matter more than all the big companies that are pouring the cash in to run the ads that are false.

Based on the limited number of results for "citizen conservatism" from a Google search, Gingrich may well have coined a slogan or a movement name today. What will it mean, though, if Gingrich gets the nomination and has to run as the de facto Wall Street candidate? Will he jettison his typical critique of President Obama's socialism and adopt Ron Paul's critique of the incumbent's "corporatism?" Will he run against crony capitalism, or will capitalism be off limits once the demagogue has conquered the capitalist? All I know is that, leaving out that reference to the "very nature of the Republican Party," this could well have been a rallying call for a third party, and not necessarily one from the right. In this struggle between Goldilocks and the Baby Bear, bedfellows make for strange politics. And no, I don't know who's who; I just like the sound of it.


Anonymous said...

I'd have to agree. But this whole "outsider/insider" thing is ridiculous anyway. Once you are elected - whether an outsider or not - you become an insider. Since, as a former congressman, Newt gets retirement pay and benefits, he can never truly be an outsider. And let's face it, as a lobbyist, he did not give up any of his DC connections. So calling himself an outsider is an outright lie.

Anonymous said...

As an addendum, it occurs to me that, quite frankly, anyone who can count their wealth in the millions is part of the establishment and, therefore, cannot be an outsider.