WASHINGTON — In September, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, sat down with The Washington Times — known amongst the cognoscenti as the Good Times — and made me wish he had never left the House of Representatives. Everything he said made perfect sense, including, I presume, an “Excuse me” or two when he sneezed. It is hay fever season, after all. He began by saying that Republicans are facing an election season that they cannot afford “to blow.” It is “a once-in-a-generation campaign opportunity to tag all congressional Democrats as ‘big government socialists.’” And he pointed to their support for President Joe Biden’s “$3.5 trillion social welfare spending package” and quickly added “$3 trillion in taxes.”
“To have an issue of this size,” he noted, “involving $3.5 trillion in spending and about $3 trillion in taxes, and to have every single Democrat having voted lockstep in favor of it, gives you a weight of argument, unlike anything I’ve seen in recent years.” Newt might have said not just in “recent years,” but in his lifetime. The Democrats have given the Republicans a tremendous gift, and I cannot see how they will “blow” it. I doubt they will.
Just last week, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey was in town, and he certainly did not blow it. He was here for an American Spectator Gala, and he sat down for an interview with the evening’s master of ceremonies, incomparable Grover Norquist of tax-cutting fame. The Governor was in fighting trim. He is Chairman of the Republican Governors Association, and he said he thought the Republicans could win every race in 2022. His issues? Lower taxes, improved education for the young, and school choice—he mentioned Terry McAuliffe’s recent education gaffe repeatedly. Being from Arizona, he is naturally for closed borders. He says President Joe Biden has made the border issue a federal issue, and he wants the issue back. After ticking off his desiderata for 2022, he said the Republicans have “the wind at their backs.” Doubtless, Newt Gingrich agrees. For a certitude, Governor Ducey had the gala audience with him.
Yet what I want to know is where the impetus for socialism has come from in America today. We are not living in the 1930s. We are living in the 2020s, and it is not like we know nothing of socialism. We have seen what socialism did to the countries behind the Iron Curtain. In fact, ask a Soviet general if you can find one. Practically any survivor of the Red Army will tell you that the Red Army did not lose to NATO forces. Socialism lost to capitalism. It almost bankrupted the Soviets. President Ronald Reagan was right.
By the late 1980s, the Soviet Union could no longer compete with capitalism. The Soviets could not even provide machine parts for their armies. When asked in 1993 by the American diplomat Bud McFarlane “What role U.S. Policy in general and the Strategic Defense Initiative, in particular, played in the Soviet Union’s collapse,” the retired Soviet diplomat Vladimir Lukin was quick to respond. He, a former general and chairman of the Supreme Soviet Foreign Relations Committee replied, “You accelerated our catastrophe by about five years.” It does not sound like Mr. Lukin was a fan of socialism.
Today not even the Swedes are socialists. Not even the Red Chinese are socialist. The only socialists I know are the North Koreans who cannot feed themselves and the Cubans whose cigars I stopped smoking years ago.
Who is pulling for socialism in America? There is the retired bartendress, Congressgirl Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is known for her lavish taste in clothing. Where did she get the money to pay for such fabulous gowns, and why does she wear them? Should not a child of the proletariat wear a Mao Zedong jacket and pole climbing boots? Then there is Comrade Bernie Sanders. How many homes does he now own? Do any of our cheerleaders for socialism actually live like a socialist? I remember back in the good old days when leaders of the socialist movement such as Paul Goodman actually lived like they would have us all live in the People’s Republic of America. I think Paul bought his clothes at Good Will Industries and lived in a doghouse.
I agree with Governor Ducey. We have the wind at our backs. It is time for Newt to run for the House again.
• R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is a Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and the author most recently of The Death of Liberalism, published by Thomas Nelson, Inc.