In 1984, former lifelong Democrat Jeanne Kirkpatrick spoke at the Republican Convention in support of President Ronald Reagan's election to a second term. Her speech identified correctly the San Francisco-based Democratic party as all too willing to "blame America first." Kirkpatrick understood that, as a world leader, the United States carried "the responsibilities of freedom."
She noted that the prior administration's "motives were good, but their policies were inadequate, uninformed and mistaken..." and that President Reagan's continued and continual confidence in America, in the American people, had made a difference. "Confidence is contagious," she said.
What Kirkpatrick was saying was that endless criticism and denigration will sap the energy of any person or any country who is berated over and over again. They will lack the energy to be creative, to be productive and lead.
This need to shift from living under continual denigration to believing in ourselves is exactly what President Trump tuned into in the 2016 campaign. What I believe is that, to lead the world, we must believe that we are worth following and that, while our country might have flaws, they are to be fixed, not obsessed over.
My dad (former House Speaker Newt Gingrich) launched his latest book this week, "Trump's America," in which he reaffirms that Trump's focus on America First, combined with pragmatic, results-oriented, pro-growth economic policies and bureaucratic reining in, is unleashing economic growth in our country and creating real results for the American people. The result is a shift from continual denigration as a country to contagious confidence.
In "Trump's America," Gingrich provides examples of why Trump appealed to voters in 2016. From voters who were "victims of jobs going overseas and the slow economic growth of the Obama administration following the 2008 recession," to those who were devastated by the ongoing ineptness of various government entities.
For example, "only 15 percent of elementary school students who took the Partnership for Assessments of Career and College Readiness assessment passed the English portion and 11.9 percent passed the math portion." This a clear example of what is not working.
And while "there is a place in our society for reasonable regulations" [i.e., clean drinking water]. "The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined in 2015 that dust - what comes off gravel roads or recent tilled fields - was dangerous particulate matter...farmers had to start spending their time and money not on growing crops but mitigating the dust that could potentially come off the natural land."
Understandably, farmers whose lives are governed by such regulations could become despondent and give up.
Gingrich next shifts to pragmatic policy achievements in the first year and a half of the Trump administration. They include the most comprehensive tax reform in 31 years, which Gingrich states "will become the cornerstone of the Republican campaigns in 2018," partially due to the Democrats' trying to persuade Americans that the tax reform was bad for them. Americans will soon figure out the truth. Additionally, the rapid reduction of government regulations that were choking small businesses has increased the pace of business activity and improved growth.
Gingrich shifts to potential policy solutions to current crises, including health care, opioid abuse and welfare. Included in his analysis is Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election. Gingrich states, "Mueller is an illegitimately appointed prosecutor looking for crimes for which to convict people. The presumption of innocence at the heart of the American justice system is entirely absent."
In pure Gingrich fashion, the former history teacher closes "Trump's America" with a history lesson. In the last chapter he reminds us of the contentious transition to President Andrew Jackson, who broke with the "establishment" at that time and formed the core of what became the Democratic Party. Gingrich also reminds us of the election of Abraham Lincoln. "Lincoln got a smaller percentage of the total vote than Jackson," who won with 56 percent.
Lincoln, who won 40 percent of the total vote, won massively in the Electoral College and went on to achieve great things. "Lincoln actually fought and won the Civil War starting from a narrower base than Jackson had."
Based on the elections this week, my hunch is that there might well be a wave of Republicans elected in the fall of 2018, but it's a long way to the mid-terms.
The real battle will be the 2020 presidential election, where the forces of identity politics will attempt to distract attention from the obvious economic improvements by continually blaming America first and pitting Americans against one another.
Or will Americans understand that, to lead the world, we must have a strong economy while fixing our flaws and not obsessing over them.