Newt Gingrich Might Go Third Party? The Conservative Delusion Continues

Why do conservatives think we live in a conservative country?

By + More

By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Newt Gingrich reportedly said that conservatives might bolt the GOP if the party doesn't stop "being the right wing party of big government."

Newt's a smart guy (you can tell because his writing appears in important publications). And he certainly seems to be positioning himself to run for president. But ...

He seems here to buy into the conservative delusion that their problem in 2008 was that they were insufficiently conservative. That if only Republicans had spent less, cut taxes (even more), and scaled back government, John McCain (or whoever) would be president today. Gingrich feels that if these purists are not satisfied, they'll bolt from the party, presumably on the theory that true conservatives will be able to win election because the United States is a basically conservative country.

I have two problems with this. The first is that our liberal president and his policies have the strong support of the American people right now.

The second—and more important—point is that the Republicans who became the right wing party of big government over the last eight to 15 years were all politicians. Politicians sometimes break with their principles when political circumstances dictate it (in other words: when the non-principled policy is popular) and they sometimes do unpopular things when their principles demand it. But it's rather rare for a politician (let alone a whole party) to do something simultaneously unpopular and unprincipled.

But that, according to Gingrich and others, is what they did: They embraced unpopular (in a basically conservative country) policies that flew in the face of their own principles. Well I guess that's one explanation for why they cratered.

There is this: I would pay real money to see Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin in a 2012 GOP presidential debate.

On Facebook? You can keep up with Thomas Jefferson Street blog postings through Facebook's Networked Blogs.

  • Read more by Robert Schlesinger.
  • Read more from the Thomas Jefferson Street blog.
  • Read more about Newt Gingrich.