- - Friday, December 30, 2022

In making the devilishly clever proposal that Democrats should nominate Liz Cheney as speaker of the House, Washington Times columnist Tom Giovanetti recently made the eloquent point that “there is no constitutional requirement that the speaker of the House be a current elected member of the body. Some argue that it is an unstated assumption in the Constitution that House officers would be members of the body, but textualist interpretation doesn’t assume unstated text, and the courts are loath to get involved in the internal affairs of the other branches of government.”

On that point, it would behoove Republicans to consider utilizing that rationale to nominate the only viable option to Rep. Kevin McCarthy: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Ayn Rand once said that “a political battle is merely a skirmish fought with muskets — a philosophical battle is a nuclear war.” 

While Mr. Gingrich served in the House leadership role for only four years, he made history as one of the most accomplished, influential, intellectual and philosophical speakers in U.S. history, and acted as a tour de force against one of the most popular Democratic presidents of the 20th century. 

After the highly anticipated 2022 red wave fell short of creating a powerful crest, it became clear that Republicans need a more appealing, clearer platform to defeat the Biden administration machine. But more than just a platform and a rallying cry, Republicans need to follow Rand’s lead and embrace philosophy more than politics. To achieve that, they need leadership that can eloquently explain the ethical and moral reasoning behind a platform, the basis of a philosophy.

Why? Because when people can elicit the reasoning behind their ethical and moral choices, they are armed with conviction and clarity, which inspires confidence, strength and success.

While I respect Mr. McCarthy and believe he can certainly do the job, Mr. Gingrich has been immortalized in the passages of conservative history as one of the modern-day intellectual and philosophical fathers of the right. He not only helped conceptualize the unforgettable Contract with America, he was the most inspirational voice of the Republican Revolution, which was said to “change the center of gravity” in the nation’s capital.

This should come as no surprise since before his congressional career, Mr. Gingrich did his doctorate in modern European history at Tulane and taught in the history department at West Georgia College (now University of West Georgia, which I attended my freshman year). After he was elected to Congress in 1978, Mr. Gingrich proposed a ban on International Monetary Fund loans to communist countries and founded the Conservative Opportunity Society, which was dedicated to promoting economic growth, education and combating crime. The platform was so popular among conservatives that President Ronald Reagan adopted many of its points in his 1984 reelection campaign against former Vice President Walter Mondale.

In addition to creating a platform Reagan embraced, Mr. Gingrich demonstrated fearless leadership in unifying Republican legislators, and confronted decades of ethical issues that arose under Democratic House control. Alongside the Gang of Seven, Mr. Gingrich brought the House banking scandal and congressional post office scandal to light. The former ensured that House members could not overdraw their accounts, and the latter resulted in Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, the powerful Democratic chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, pleading guilty to federal charges of mail fraud.

In his tenure as speaker, Mr. Gingrich spearheaded the 1994 Contract with America, which was the first year Republicans regained control of the House since 1954. During his first term, Mr. Gingrich pushed for welfare reform resulting in passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, which gave states more program governance and implemented time limits and work requirements. After Mr. Gingrich’s first term, the Republican majority was reelected for the first time in 68 years, and for the first time when a Democratic president won reelection.

In his second term as speaker, Mr. Gingrich combated the White House amid government shutdowns, reached an agreement with President Bill Clinton to balance the budget by 2002, and guided the lower chamber through’s the chief executive’s impeachment after independent counsel Kenneth Star concluded his investigation.

Since Mr. Gingrich’s departure from Congress in 1998, he has continued to rise in the ranks of the conservative movement, not as an elected official, but as a voice of reason. Mr. Gingrich is one of the few iconic voices remaining in the Republican Party from the Reagan era, and has become recognized as an intellectual and philosophical father of the conservative movement. His opinions are considered some of the most authoritative when he speaks on Fox News or writes for this newspaper, The Washington Times. Finally, in an era where younger representatives are straying from decorum, Mr. Gingrich offers a refresher of much-needed civility and a return to decorum. Simply put, he’s the adult in the room.

If the idea of Mr. Gingrich returning as House speaker as an unelected representative seems a bit “half-baked” (to coin a phrase from Benjamin Braddock’s father in the 1967 classic “The Graduate”), imagine for a moment how it would feel to wake up on Wednesday, Jan. 4, and know that the House of Representatives is once again under the leadership of one history’s most brilliant and effective Republicans. 

Trust me, I’m on to something here. Gingrich for House speaker.

It’s time to ignite another Republican Revolution.

• Jeffrey Scott Shapiro is a former Washington prosecutor who also served as a senior U.S. official from 2017 to 2021. He now serves on the editorial board for The Washington Times.

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