As former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has risen in the polls, the establishment media has cast about for an explanation to the Lazarus-like resuscitation of a campaign that they in their collective wisdom had long ago left for dead.
Naturally, digging into the cross-tabs of polls or interviewing grass-roots conservative leaders outside the Beltway is too much work, so the media have concluded that Gingrich is rising because conservatives are against Romney for all kinds of non-policy reasons — ranging from religious prejudice to class envy.
This is exactly the opposite of reality, but it fits well into the old establishment caricature that conservatives are “aginners” who are driven solely by opposition to change and have no positive agenda of their own.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s support has been stuck in the low to mid-20s for the entire five years he has been running for president, not because he is a Mormon — or the wealthy scion of an establishment family — but because he has failed to convince conservatives he will govern as a conservative. It is really that simple.
Romney has had plenty of opportunities to close the deal with conservatives. Instead, rather than reach out to us, Romney has surrounded himself with recycled Bush advisers and Wall Street types and propounded an economic plan that accepts the class warfare premises of Obama’s policies.
He has danced, bobbed, and weaved around all the hard foreign policy questions, and, most damagingly, has stubbornly attempted to defend a variety of flip-flops as “being consistent as human beings can be.”
No wonder conservatives look at Romney and see little prospect for conservative government if he is elected.
Gingrich, on the other hand, is well known to many conservative leaders who recognize that, despite his self-acknowledged errors and flaws, he is the one candidate who has a real record of implementing conservative government.
Balancing the budget, welfare reform, and a host of other conservative initiatives that Gingrich championed as speaker are not mere campaign rhetoric — they actually happened.
What’s more, Gingrich looks to the conservative movement for advice, and does not avoid answering the hard questions or put his finger to the wind looking for guidance from a focus group. He starts from the premise that a government acting from conservative principles would do, or not do, certain things and make certain value judgments about how to solve problems.
As the first caucuses and primaries loom in January, the conventional wisdom from the establishment media is that Romney’s vaunted fundraising ability and superior organization will win the day and he will wrap up the 1,140 or so delegates needed to clinch the nomination by March.
Not only is this mathematically unlikely, but such an analysis ignores that fact that the 2010 congressional elections brought together a new coalition of conservative voters in this country.
To win in 2012, Republicans must hold together the traditional triad of economic, social, and defense conservatives, and the newly energized constitutional conservatives of the tea party movement. This four-part coalition will be unbeatable in the Republican primary elections and in the fall general election — if it coalesces behind a candidate.
To explain the rise of Newt Gingrich, look no further than the fact that slowly, but surely, Newt is convincing voters in each segment of that coalition that he is the one candidate who will govern according to the conservative principles in which they are interested.
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