Kaye Ferry: Newt is a man on a mission
Vail CO, Colorado
I had an opportunity a couple of weeks ago that was pretty unique. In a small group of about 20 in a private home, I had a chance to meet Newt Gingrich.
Now I’m not sure I was a huge fan when he was in his political heyday. But then, it was his political heyday so it was … political.
But things seemed to have changed for Mr. Gingrich. Because at this point in his career he seems to be moving away from exploiting the differences between us to championing the similarities.
His newest passion is centered around an organization he founded called American Solutions that “strives to defend America and our allies abroad and defeat our enemies, to strengthen and revitalize America’s core values, and to move government into the 21st century.”
American Solutions is a tripartisan organization that encompasses Democrats, Republicans and Independents. It was founded to address the question of what it will take for us to be competitive in the world market and remain the most successful country economically.
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Seven “zones” were identified as needing fundamental change. They are: litigation, regulation, taxation, education, health, energy and infrastructure.
He was clear to point out that the name of the organization is significant because the goal is to effect change, adding that actually arriving at solutions requires a higher standard than coming up with philosophies, ideas or proposals. It requires defining things that really work. And they are not Democratic solutions or conservative solutions, but American solutions.
And to that end they held a “solutions day” workshop that was on the Internet and TV and drew 100,000 participants. Additionally, they did six national surveys in an attempt to start defining issues that had an absolute majority consensus. They were looking for areas that achieved 100 percent agreement among Republicans, 100 percent agreement among Democrats and 100 percent agreement among independents. And to everyone’s surprise, they found over 100.
To him, what that really said is that the “American people have a lot of common sense, it’s the elites that are nuts.”
The group is working to become the “leading grassroots movement to recruit, educate and empower citizen activists and elected officials to develop solutions to transform all levels of government.”
Currently, they are working on a national petition, “Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less.” It encourages Congress to repeal the moratorium on domestic oil drilling. As of a few weeks ago, at the time of our meeting, they had over 1 million signatures with the goal of having a minimum of 3 million by the time the Democratic Convention starts and even more by the Republican Convention. The intent is to present the petition at both conventions for consideration.
At first I had not intended to write about this meeting, fascinating as it was. But the more I thought about it, the more intrigued I became, partly because of the energy of this man who could clearly rest on his laurels if he so decided. After all, he’s 65 years old and could easily slide into retirement. Instead, he’s committed to continue in his pursuit to make America a better place for us all, though especially motivated by his concerns for the future that will be left to his two grandchildren.
And particularly apropos to the coming holiday, here is a statement right from his Web site.
“For Americans, the Fourth of July is about more than the birth of our country. It’s about the will of the people triumphing over the will of the elite.
It’s a day that celebrates a document, the Declaration of Independence, with a revolutionary premise: Governments are created to secure the God-given rights of citizens, not to grant them their rights. On the Fourth of July, we all remember what Ronald Reagan told us, that we are a nation with a government, not the other way around.”
Pretty powerful words. And whether you agree with him or not, it’s hard to ignore the passion he has for this country and the dedication he has exhibited in is many years of public service.
To meet him in such an intimate setting and share his new passion was indeed a memorable event.
Kaye Ferry is a longtime observer of Vail government. She writes a weekly column for the Daily that normally appears on Wednesdays.