I rarely quote my dad, Newt Gingrich, but I do find his 1994 reflection published in “The Weekly Standard” regarding Ronald Reagan’s persona to be pertinent today. “Cheerfulness can get almost anything done. One of President Reagan's great strengths was his commitment to big ideas and his willingness to remain cheerful no matter what the difficulties were. It made him likable and approachable and easy to support. Despite being the son of an alcoholic father, entering the job market in the Great Depression, and watching his career in movies fade out, Reagan remained a steadfast optimist. That disposition was a tremendous, politically potent change from the angry pessimism of traditional conservatism.”
In many ways the Republicans have returned to the angry pessimism that Dad was referring to. This is neither helpful or smart.
History was made last week when Barack Obama was inaugurated president. Sixty percent of Americans watched it live. And according to Gallup, the inauguration made 62 percent of them more hopeful about the next four years. For those who believe in policies different from those of Obama, his current overwhelming popularity--an 83 percent approval rating in the transition is a fact, not a problem.
After Obama’s historic victory--winning on the theme of hope and change, rather than accomplishments, voting record or experience there are a few takeaways that should be learned. Language matters – hope and inspiration win over fear and desperation – especially in the long run. People want to be inspired to be better, to work together, to leave the world a better place due to their efforts. Inspiration drives positive activity and effort.
Again, Obama’s high approval rating is a fact not a problem. If you agree with him, either his public statements or his policy proposals, then agree with him publicly and loudly. It’s not anti-Republican or anti-conservative to agree with someone else regarding a proposed solution. Nor is it anti-conservative to be upbeat even about policy disagreements.