Walter Russell Mead has a great article (link here)on classical liberalism that defines liberalism much like they do in Europe which properly defines today’s Democrats as the reactionary keepers of a failed blue model. Mead also takes a look at today’s conservative movement as focused on a return to the good government practices of Calvin Coolidge. Mead rightly asserts that neither the solutions of 1900 nor the solutions of 1938 or 1968 will suffice to meet the challenges of the world today. Today’s Republican party needs to be the party of innovation that creates new solutions to existing problems instead of constantly harkening back to a glorious past in1922 (or 1980). It was glorious, but it was also 92 (or 32) years ago.
Gringrich captures that spirit even if he does not get every answer right. Gingrich is gaining support when he should not in any way be polling over 5% in a Republican primary because he is looking for the next big idea. Voters understand that the current system will not stand under the intense weight of an evolving world and intuitively understand that the voters in 1932 rejected the politics of Coolidge because they no longer fit that (or this) world. I would have been a proud supporter of Coolidge in his day, but not in this one. Gingrich is the only person who is not trying to go back to a previous model that no longer apply to today’s realities. We are arguing over long dead economists who created models before the international flows of capital and information were as prevalent as they are today. Where are the models that account for extremely fluid capital markets, free floating currencies, and increasingly open trade barriers? I have not heard of them in our current debate.
Some republican voters get that our leadership needs to form a new paradigm for the 21st century that challenges the power structures of the past that encroach on people’s freedoms today while advocating a positive role for an appropriately sized government that accounts for 21st century realities. Gingrich is not finding many of the right answers, but at least he is asking the questions.