The Honorable Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, outlined a five-step plan to consolidate the United States’ prominent position in a changing geopolitical landscape to a packed Institute of Politics forum last night at an event entitled “A Tripartisan Majority for Real Change.”
According to Alee Lockman ’10, a former vice president of the Harvard Republican Club and current Crimson Design chair who introduced Gingrich at the event, over 1,000 people had lotteried for a ticket to the event, which meant that “even some Democrats were excited to see Mr. Gingrich.”
The address, which lasted for about an hour, dealt primarily with the five “fundamental realities” Americans must face as other world powers come into their own: the need for scientific and technological innovation, the rising status of China and India, the dysfunctional character of current bureaucratic and legal systems, an impending “cultural conversation” about modern values, and an “out of touch” American political system.
“If you want to live in the most productive, creative, and prosperous nation in the world, what is it you have to do?” Gingrich asked. “The answer is to reform litigation, regulation, taxation, health, education, and infrastructure.”
“Bureaucracies just don’t work,” he said. “When you build a bureaucracy, the bureaucracy ages, and the bureaucracy develops self-interest. We still don’t have an ambassador to Brazil, for example, eight months into the new administration.
Gingrich also alluded to George Orwell’s famous “two plus two equals five” mantra from the novel 1984 when discussing what he perceived as hypocrisy in modern cultural and political debates and made frequent historical references throughout his speech, many related to the twenty books he has authored or the several movies he has made with his wife, Callista.
At the end of the speech, audience members lined up to ask questions, which ranged from policy-specific topics to Gingrich’s ideas about the rising powers of China and India.
One student inquired as to Gingrich’s reaction to the Latino community’s attempts to convince CNN to fire Lou Dobbs, who offended many with his recent disparaging remarks about Mexico.
“I don’t watch Lou Dobbs, so I don’t know,” Gingrich said. “But if we’re going to dismiss incendiary people, then I can think of two or three people on MSNBC who should be dismissed as well.”
Despite Gingrich’s conservative orientation, the audience, composed of mostly Harvard students—a demographic known for being predominantly liberal—applauded generously at the conclusion of the forum.
“I expected him to be relatively forthright and candid, and he was for the most part that way,” said Kennedy School and Business School student Al Norweb. “But it’s easy to talk about two plus not equaling four, when that wasn’t always the case when he was Speaker.”
—Staff writer James K. McAuley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Oct. 9 news article "Gingrich Touts ‘Tripartisanship’" incorrectly referred to Alee Lockman '10 as a former secretary of the Harvard Republican Club. In fact, she was a vice president there.