Newt Gingrich appears to be morphing into something of a Ron Paul /Barack Obama hybrid in his political campaign for president. Paul is noted for thriving on the passions of his supporters. Obama is noted for promoting himself by driving resentments. Gingrich is doing both in a “do or die” effort to ensure audiences can make lots of noise in the presidential debates. Unlike Paul and Obama, however, Gingrich hasn’t a consistent background of sticking to
conservative (Typo edit) certain principles. That makes this all the more troubling.
From The Caucus: Gingrich Threatens to Skip Debates If Audience Can’t Participate (via Memeorandum)
Mr. Gingrich, a former House speaker, on Tuesday morning threatened not participate in any future debates with audiences that have been instructed to be silent.
If you watched the last two debates, you saw why this is so important to Gingrich. Gingrich’s only hope to win a debate is for people to see the passion he invokes on their television screens. The “big idea” man cannot win on ideas alone. One can’t blame him, I suppose, for trying to capitalize on creating an environment where passion trumps reason. If the audience is forced to be silent, the people at home are then forced to make their judgments about the candidates based solely on what they are saying. That benefits Santorum and hurts Gingrich badly. If voters have to make an independent decision based on their own individual reason, Gingrich loses. If voters see the passion he invokes, they may get the impression that they should compromise and support the man who has the “energy” behind him. This is how bad leaders are swept into office by passion and good leaders are suppressed by fear.
Not unlike Mr. Romney who is well-known for changing positions in mid-stream on serious issues, Mr. Gingrich is a man whose record is bipolar. Having supported all three of the core complaints against Obama that inspired the Tea Party movement to rise up in protest — bailouts, the individual mandate, and Cap and Trade — Mr. Gingrich really has nothing but rhetoric on his side. His ability to be clever and to inspire passion in people is his only asset in this election, and so he will lose any debate where the audience has to remain silent, as he did last night.
Interestingly, when faced with this reality, Mr. Gingrich used a tactic of President Obama and the Left to appeal to people’s resentments, in order to convince voters that people should be allowed to make noise at the debates.
“I wish in retrospect I’d protested when Brian Williams took them out of it because I think it’s wrong,” Mr. Gingrich said. “And I think he took them out of it because the media is terrified that the audience is going to side with the candidates against the media, which is what they’ve done in every debate.”
Having covered the 2008 election campaign, I find it amazing that so many Republican voters are falling for this, but then, it wouldn’t be the first time people did such a thing. Gibbon wrote in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:
“The religion of Constantine achieved, in less than a century, the final conquest of the Roman empire: but the victors themselves were insensibly subdued by the arts of their vanquished rivals.”
And so it is that Republican voters are now being “subdued by the arts” of their rivals. Will Americans use the brains God gave them to vote for the candidate they prayed for? A man with strong faith in God who has offered himself up selflessly because he is so committed to protecting his daughter and others like her; a man who stood strong against bailouts, Cap and Trade and the individual mandate, thereby espousing Tea Party principles; a man whom the Establishment can hold their noses and offer support for?
The most horrible events of history came about when passion trumped reason. But God is speaking to each of us in different ways in order to guide us away from destruction. And so it is that there is a reality in the world today that is known on some level by all people of faith. Sarah Palin refers to it as a lack of common sense. Pope Benedict refers to it as the “eclipse of reason“:
Alexis de Tocqueville, in his day, observed that democracy in America had become possible and had worked because there existed a fundamental moral consensus which, transcending individual denominations, united everyone. Only if there is such a consensus on the essentials can constitutions and law function. This fundamental consensus derived from the Christian heritage is at risk wherever its place, the place of moral reasoning, is taken by the purely instrumental rationality of which I spoke earlier. In reality, this makes reason blind to what is essential. To resist this eclipse of reason and to preserve its capacity for seeing the essential, for seeing God and man, for seeing what is good and what is true, is the common interest that must unite all people of good will. The very future of the world is at stake.
Will America and the world be saved from ruin? Or will America, out of passion and fear, be “insensibly subdued by the arts” of our rivals and go the way of Rome?
We shall see. Stay tuned. In the meantime, please ask CNN for silence from the audience at the debates. Western Civilization may very well depend on it.
UPDATE: Stacy McCain says the raucous debate audiences help Santorum. He’s lying because he wants an ambassadorship. :-p