Joe Biden campaigned for president in 2020 as a practical politician with a moderate record. He promised to unite America under a Biden presidency. The former senator and vice president even said: “There will be no blue states and red states with me.”
More than 18 months into the Biden administration, America is witnessing a radical departure from the candidate who made those promises in 2020.
From Day One, the Biden administration pursued policies that appealed to the far left and socialists rather than working-class Americans. As a result, Americans appear more divided than ever on key questions about our country’s future and the policy decisions confronting us.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a bestselling author who is out with a new book, “Defeating Big Government Socialism: Saving America’s Future,” joins us on “The Daily Signal Podcast” today to tell us about his latest work and what’s at stake. Listen to the interview or read a lightly edited transcript.
Rob Bluey: Speaker Gingrich, we’re grateful to have you with us today. Thank you for your longtime support for The Heritage Foundation.
Newt Gingrich: I’m delighted to be with you. As you know, my ties to Heritage go all the back to the mid-1970s, when you were founded, to the amazing work that Ed Feulner did in helping shape the Reagan administration and to Heritage’s continued intellectual leadership in helping solve America’s problems. So, I’m thrilled to have a chance to talk with you today.
Bluey: We’re grateful for your contributions with this latest book. I personally believe that your efforts to define big government socialism early in the Biden administration are in many ways responsible for how Americans view his policies today. How did you come up with the idea and what can readers learn from your new book?
Gingrich: I, first of all, remembered that Margaret Thatcher, when she became leader of the opposition in 1975, set out to destroy the moral legitimacy of socialism.
There’s a brilliant small book by Claire Berlinski called “There Is No Alternative: Why Margaret Thatcher Matters.” Berlinski really outlines that Thatcher went on an all-out campaign to defeat socialism, morally, intellectually, and as a matter of daily behavior.
So as I watched the emergence—not Biden. Biden himself is just a guy in the basement who probably would’ve been better off to stay in the basement. But if you look at the totality of the team that they’ve assembled, it’s kind of an intersectional coalition, to use their language, of every anti-American and anti-normalcy group in the country. They represent a deliberate desire to use very large government bureaucracies to impose on the rest of us the world they want to live in.
I think you have to start from that understanding that these are people who really do believe that they have the moral right to dictate to you and me … They’re basically a semi-religious group and their fanaticism grows out of that religious sense of certainty.
I realized that it wasn’t going to be enough just to defeat them for having performed badly. I mean, it was pretty clear to me very early on that they were going to have terrible results because everything they were doing was based on ideas that don’t work.
But I also knew that there was a danger that we would end up defeating them, but not learning any real lessons, and that the next wave of socialists would come along and say, “Well, Biden wasn’t very competent and [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi and [Senate Majority Leader Chuck] Schumer were too old, but this time we’re going to do it right.”
So I wrote “Defeating Big Government Socialism” in the tradition of Lady Thatcher, who had said, “First you win the argument. Then you win the vote.”
And I wanted to give every citizen the tools and the arguments and the facts that would enable them with their friends and their neighbors to win the argument about how dangerous and how destructive big government socialism is and why we need to replace it.
Bluey: Let’s start with that term itself. Why is that so effective? Not only in the polling that you’ve done, but the way that it encapsulate all of the policies you’ve just talked about, as one of the most effective ways to counter the left, but also describe it.
Gingrich: We were given a unique opportunity in 2018. The co-founder of Home Depot came to us, and he knew I’d worked with [Ronald] Reagan starting in 1974, leading to the great victory of 1980, where we regained control of the Senate for the first time since 1954, and where Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter by the largest electoral college defeat for an incumbent president in modern history.
Then he knew I’d help put together the Contract with America, which led to the first House Republican majority in 40 years. So he asked me to undertake a very methodical effort to identify issues that would bring Americans together, that would create a truly American majority.
And as I was doing that, we began to explore how people really felt and the language they used. And what we discovered was, if you pit free enterprise capitalism against big government socialism, it’s actually 59% to 16% in favor of free market capitalism, which really surprised us how strong it was.
And what we discovered was that there are a lot of young people who, if you just use the word “socialism,” they’ve been through schools where they’ve been told over and over again that socialism’s good and it’s caring and all that stuff, but they instinctively know that big government’s terrible.
So you suddenly bring together older people who are anti-socialism and younger people who are anti-big government and the result is that even under a forced choice, we could not get support for big government socialism above 18%.
It struck me that this was the right big argument, that what we wanted to do, as Reagan had done in ’80 and as we did with the Contract with America, is we wanted to create a big argument for ’22 and ’24, not a series of little arguments.
The big argument is whether or not you believe that a Washington-dominated bureaucratically implemented system that is against American history, against American traditional values, against the work ethic, against traditional patriotism, whether that’s a system you think will work, or in fact, if you want to replace it with something which will work.
I just give you one number, or two numbers, rather. One, we asked, “Do you think it’s important to restore the America that works?” And we got 87% of the country said, “Yes, that is just pragmatic.” Not liberal, conservative, just pragmatic. Get it to work again.
And then second, we asked people, “Do you agree with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that it is the content of your character, not the color of your skin, that really matters?” That’s 91% to 6%. So all those people who are out here trying to invent a new anti-white racism are going right in the teeth of a 91% majority.
Bluey: Thank you for sharing those numbers with us. Well, as you indicated, there are so many topics that we are hotly debating in America today: critical race theory, COVID, climate change, cancel culture, just to name a few. How do we counter the left’s agenda? You’ve given us some tips already, but for the listeners who might be wondering how they talk to their co-workers or people in their community, what tips and advice do you have for them?
Gingrich: I have really two sets of tips. One is to follow places like Heritage. I mean, despite the fact that the left may have The New York Times, the truth is you reach hundreds of thousands of people. Fox News reaches millions of people. The Wall Street Journal, the New York Daily Post, the Washington Examiner, The Washington Times—there is a conservative ecosystem that’s been growing for the last 40 years and that actually is a pretty countervailing system now against the hard-left propaganda system.
I describe The New York Times as Pravda and The Washington Post as Izvestia, and suggest that if you start with that understanding of how biased they are, everything else kind of falls in place.
So, if you start from there and work backward, I think we do have an ability to communicate that might surprise people.
But secondly, this particular year is unusual. The left is so bad this year that I tell every candidate, “Go and campaign in two places. Campaign at gas stations and at grocery stores,” because no matter what the left says, people know in their pocketbook and they know in their own lives that it just isn’t working.
That gives you the starting point for a serious conversation to say to people, “Have you had enough? Are you ready to look at what does work and what we know historically has been proven again and again to work?”
… We’re seeing this with Latinos, with Asian Americans, African Americans, you’re having more people open to this conversation than, I think, in anytime in my lifetime.
Bluey: I’m glad you brought that up because I wanted to ask about some of the changing nature of the Republican Party in terms of the constituencies that make it up; that Mayra Flores’ election in Texas, a surprise I think for many Democrats, maybe a wake-up call, although it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to heed some of those warnings.
What are the things that the Republican Party, the conservative movement should be doing right now to appeal to those individuals who are turned off by big government socialism?
Gingrich: I just wrote a newsletter, which people can get for free at gingrich360.com. I do three free news letters and three free podcasts every week at gingrich360.com. The one I just wrote was on the idea that a big campaign will lead to an American tsunami.
I would emphasize both halves of that. Republicans should not think about a Republican tsunami. People talk about a red wave and I say, “No, it’s going to be a red, white, and blue wave. It’s going to be Americans. It’s going to be people, some Democrats, overwhelming Republicans, overwhelming independents.”
And Reagan was brilliant about this. Reagan had been a FDR Democrat. He’d actually cut commercials for Harry Truman and Hubert Humphrey in 1948, so he still had a residual understanding of the Democratic Party. And Reagan would always say, “To my fellow Republicans and to those independents and Democrats who share our values.” He was just very consistent.
And when we did the contract, notice it was not a contract with conservatism or a contract with Republicans. It was a contract with America.
So I would start from there. I would say that the first thing to do is to lay your campaign out for everybody in your district or everybody in your state, and not assume that anybody’s automatically against you.
The second thing I would say is you want a big campaign, not a small campaign.
Now, let me give you an example. If the Democratic senator from Georgia has his way, he’s going to run a very narrow, small campaign attacking Herschel Walker. But the truth is that the Democratic senator has voted consistently with Joe Biden, and Walker’s job is to make clear that you’re talking now about the guy who brought you 9% inflation, the guy who brought you $5-a-gallon gasoline, the guy who brought you a rising murder rate.
So the more we nationally run on the big national issues, this is true in Arizona, it’s true in Pennsylvania, it’s true in Ohio, everywhere in the country.
If the choice is not a personality choice between two individuals, but a choice between two philosophies, two delivery systems, two approaches, I think we will win a crushing victory this fall.
Bluey: Speaker Gingrich, one of the issues that the left is so passionate about, it’s a religion to them, is climate change. Why should we as Americans resist or at least be skeptical of the alarmist warnings that we hear almost on a constant and day-to-day basis?
Gingrich: I think the first thing to recognize is, if you go back to the 1970s, alarmism is a key part of the way the left operates. In the 1970s, we were supposed to worry about the population time bomb.
And Paul Ehrlich got to be a tenured faculty member at Stanford writing this book, which if you actually read it, is totally wrong. I mean, for example, he wrote that Great Britain would starve to death by the year 2000. Totally false, but it doesn’t matter because they’re a religious cult. They’re not an intellectual cult.
Second, recognize that virtually everything Al Gore warned us about in his movie did not happen.
Look, I do think climates change. I think the largest factor in climate change is the sun. I do think that you have to be constantly adapting.
People tend to forget that the Gulf Stream cut off for a while and Northern Europe promptly went into an ice age and then the Gulf Stream started back up and Northern Europe began to melt, the ice began to melt. But all those things happened long before there were internal combustion engines.
You also have to recognize the difference, even if they were sincere, their solutions are stupid. The fact is, it turns out, and you’re seeing this now, Germany just announced they’re reopening 13 coal-fired electricity plants because in fact, they can’t generate enough electricity to offset Russian natural gas just using wind and solar.
California just discovered that, and nobody apparently had ever done this work on the left, but solar panels eventually wear out. When they wear out, they’re filled with toxic chemicals, and California’s suddenly discovering it has a huge problem on landfills where people are putting solar panels that have toxic chemicals leaching into the soil.
Apparently these particular solar panels are very expensive to take apart and to make safe. So, the solar power industry suddenly becomes a major source of pollution in a way that nobody had envisioned and which adds to the total cost of green power in a way that nobody had ever thought about.
The other factor you’ve got to remember is a lot of what the climate change people do is yell “climate change,” but then they have a much different motive.
For example, if you’re going to use oil and gas, the most efficient, most environmentally safe oil and gas industry in the world by a huge margin is the United States. So if your only concern was the environment, and you knew that you had to have oil and gas and diesel fuel and heating oil, the place you’d most like to have producing it is the United States, but the left hates the American oil and gas industry.
I always tell people, Biden can go to Saudi Arabia, but he can’t go to Texas. He can talk to the people in Venezuela about oil, but he can’t talk to the people in Western Pennsylvania. He can talk to the Iranians, but he can’t talk to North Dakota.
I mean, you have to ask yourself, what is it about an American president who is consistently anti-American in his energy policies?
They began to distribute oil out of the National Petroleum Reserve, and we just discovered that a million barrels of it went to a Chinese company with ties to Hunter Biden. Now, how can it possibly be helpful to the American people or lower the price of gasoline in the United States if you’re shipping a million barrels of oil to China?
This is the kind of stuff where you really have to wonder what the basic underlying motivations [are] and why the left dislikes its own country so much.
Bluey: Well, Speaker Gingrich, all of those facts that you just gave us are why it’s so critically important to do things not only like purchase your book “Defeating Big Government Socialism,” but subscribe to your podcast and your newsletters and The Daily Signal, because too often, as you write about in “Defeating Big Government Socialism,” Hollywood, the media, the academy are all wrapped up in the left’s agenda as well. So you’re not likely to hear those facts about solar energy or what’s going on with the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
Gingrich: That’s exactly right. I mean, again, I want to commend Heritage because you have consistently provided the kind of research and the kind of fact-based analysis that allows us to really understand what’s going on and to be directly involved with what we need to do as a country. I think you’re one of the places that I really look for to have the kind of conversation we need to be having.
Bluey: Today, President Biden is suffering with the worst poll numbers of his presidency so far. Even friendly media outlets are starting to question if he’s up for the job. What do you expect from the rest of his first term? And is there any possibility that he runs for office again?
Gingrich: Look, I think he would like to run for office again. Let’s be clear. Biden is a nice, pleasant guy who would probably have been a pretty good county commissioner.
He won a U.S. Senate seat at 29 years of age, actually before he was legally old enough to serve. He had a birthday between the election and being sworn in. He was in a very small state where an incumbent U.S. Senator has huge advantages for reelection.
The first couple times he tried to run for president, he just totally flamed out. In fact, the first time he had to drop out when it turned out that he had stolen Neil Kinnock, who was the British Labour leader, who had given a speech about growing up in a Welsh coal-mining village.
Now, why Biden would’ve thought that it made any sense to compare Scranton to a Welsh coal-mining village is beyond my comprehension. And of course, the press figured it out. He became a laughing stock and he had to drop out.
He dropped out the second time because he couldn’t get any votes. Then finally, he got picked by Barack Obama, who thought he needed a foreign policy person since he clearly didn’t have any foreign policy experience and Biden had been chairman of Foreign Relations.
And then he basically got very lucky. And when the alternative for the Democrats was Bernie Sanders, who was clearly going to be defeated in the general election, or Biden, Biden got to be the nominee. They then promptly hid him.
It’s important to remember this. He won this campaign because nobody knew what he was doing. Had he had to actually campaign, had we understood how cognitively challenged he was and how incapable of coherence he was, I suspect he would’ve lost.
So in that setting, what you have is a guy who I don’t think has very many tools for recovery.
People ask me about Bill Clinton, who, after we won in ’94, switched and collaborated with us and got a lot of stuff done, made the left very mad at him.
It was the Clinton/Gingrich reforms, like the welfare reform, balancing the budget for four years, these things we had to do on a bipartisan basis because you had a Democrat president and a Republican Congress, and if we didn’t find a way to work together, nothing would’ve happened.
Well, I don’t think Biden has that capability. So my guess is that in the end he will not be able to run for reelection. First of all, he’s already down. If he drops another 4 or 5 percentage points of approval, he will be at the level Harry Truman was at when he left the presidency, and that’s the lowest level achieved by any president in modern times.
Bluey: You mentioned earlier that in 1994 you led the Republican revolution to take control of the House for the first time in 40 years. It certainly appears that Republicans, according to polls today, could once again be in charge next year. Given the scenario you just laid out, what should they plan to do if they are able to regain control and take power?
Gingrich: My hat is off to [House Minority Leader] Kevin McCarthy. I mean, McCarthy did a great deal of very creative recruiting in 2020. And when people thought we were going to lose 25 seats in the House, we gained 15. That was a remarkable achievement. That’s a swing of 40 seats from where the experts were. McCarthy’s been out there campaigning, recruiting, raising money.
I fully expect that the Republicans will in fact win, and I think they are going to have a commitment to America, which is going to be very much like the contract was. And I think that they’re going to keep it.
I think that they’re going to have positive ideas on energy, positive ideas on inflation, positive ideas on education, and they’re going to go right down the road, developing those kind of ideas and making them really work.
So, my expectation is that you’re going to see a very positive solution-oriented House Republican Party.
Bluey: Speaker Gingrich, I have a couple of just quick topics to cover before we wrap. This summer, the House’s January 6 Committee has attempted to paint a picture about President [Donald] Trump and what happened on that day. I’ve listened to your podcast and heard interviews that you’ve done regarding this. I think it would be helpful for you to give your perspective to our listeners about what has just transpired and how they should think about this committee and the work that it’s done.
Gingrich: I believe that the January 6 Committee is a Stalinist show trial. They have 25,000 documents, over 1,000 videotaped interviews, and they pick and choose what they want to show us to make their case with no alternative, no cross-examination, no attorneys involved. And it’s a totally one-sided, in my judgment, total violation of the Bill of Rights, and total violation of the American spirit of fair play and fair inquiry.
So, I am very deeply opposed to the way they have run the January 6 Committee, and I think that it is a disgrace that it has been run really just exactly like [Vladimir] Lenin and [Josef] Stalin ran the show trials in the Soviet Union.
Bluey: In the wake of the Dobbs [v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization] decision, the left is, in many cases, in my opinion, overstepping with its attacks on the Supreme Court, not only as an institution, but some of the antics that are taking place at the justices’ homes and the attacks on them personally.
Will we see more of this? Is there any hope that we can get to the point where the blockade around the court is perhaps removed and the justices don’t have to fear for their lives?
Gingrich: Oh, I think we’re in a very dire situation. As you know, recently Lee Zeldin, the Republican candidate for governor, was attacked in New York by a man who wanted to attack him with a knife.
We are in a period where the left has gone crazy, where violence is a reasonable behavior, where the Justice Department is so corrupt, it will not—there is a federal law that says you cannot threaten federal judges. It’s a felony. It’s a one-year jail term. The FBI and the Justice Department refuse to enforce it.
I think it’s a very dangerous situation just in terms of the spirit of a free society and I think that we have to really consider what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it in order to return to a decent norm, which we currently don’t have.
Bluey: Former Speaker Newt Gingrich, author of the new book “Defeating Big Government Socialism: Saving America’s Future,” Do you have any closing words about the book that you’d like to share with our listeners?
Gingrich: Sure. I would just say, if you want to know why big government socialism doesn’t work and if you want to know how to win the argument with your friends and your neighbors and help the country get rid of big government socialism, I think you’ll find the book a very, very useful handbook that enables you to really have a real impact on how your friends and neighbors feel about what’s gone wrong.
Bluey: Well, I encourage our listeners to check it out. It’s a fantastic piece of work, and we’re so grateful for the contributions you’ve made and the help you’ve provided, Speaker Gingrich. Thank you for being with us on “The Daily Signal Podcast.”
Gingrich: Thank you. Enjoyed it very much.
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