October 29, 2007

Gingrich Speech

I sat on the floor near the exit, off to the side near where the press sat at the FRC Action Values Voter Summit: The Washington Briefing. It was in a huge ballroom in the Washington Hilton in DuPont, which I found highly ironic. I had raced there, trying to make it in time to hear Newt’s speech. While getting set up to take notes, I was trying to change into red heels—appropriate, I figured, for one of the biggest conservative conventions of the year. Newt was the last speaker of the daytime session.
Enthusiasm rose as Newt was introduced as the former Speaker of the House, author of Rediscovering God in America, the Chairman of the Gingrich Group The Gingrich Group, and “a drum major in our march for a better future,” among his other accomplishments. Rock music played as he walked on stage and he was met with a standing ovation and thunderous applause. Ladies and Gentlemen, Newt Gingrich.
You know how in the press club speech we watched, Newt was very good at appealing to both sides, while still maintaining his conservative viewpoints? That was perfect for the National Press club. This speech was also very much tailored to the audience. He showed a lot statistics, most of which are available here. According to his statistics, 86% of all Americans believe there are certain values that unite us all. The statistics he cited mostly involved national defense, taxes, religion, and morality. For example, 85% of Americans believe it is very important to defend American allies. 89% believe religion and morality are important to their family. 64% believe that there is not enough religion taught in school. Only 8% believe that there is too much religion in school, “which” he said, “must be the size of the ACLU.”
Gingrich said that the “elite critics” misunderstand what the argument regarding religion in schools and in the nation is really about. He said he is not advocating theology to be taught in school, just political history. When Thomas Jefferson wrote The Declaration of Independence he did say that we are “endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights,” even if he was a deist. Newt also looked at Washington, who was a Christian and Benjamin Franklin, another deist, who called for a day of prayer during the Constitution Convention. Gingrich notes that Lincoln spoke of God fourteen times in the 2nd Inaugural Address, as is written in the Lincoln Memorial. FDR, during his radio talks to the nation asked his listeners to join him in prayer for D-Day.
He did not deny the need for separation of church and state. However, he clarified what he meant by that separation. He said that when Jefferson used the term, he was writing a letter to reassure someone that there would be no compulsory, state-funded religion above the other religions. “Good,” was Newt’s description of the separation of church and state. He doesn’t want the Government funding religion when it, “can’t even fund the Federal Government.”
Newt emphasized that The Constitution says “We the People,” not “We the Lawyers,” and not “We the Politicians.” He said that we lend the politicians our power, it is not theirs to legislate without control. We have the right to fire the politicians that are mishandling power every election.
From a purely political standpoint, Gingrich said very little. Other than mentioning that Immigration should be encouraged (but that the Immigrants need to become Americans and learn English), Newt mostly discussed American history from a Christian perspective.
On the way out of the conference, Newt had people handing out handouts to read the way a teacher does in a class.
To show how well his speech went over at the conference, after his speech—when Newt was signing autographs in his books and taking pictures with his fans, his book sold out completely.

Have We Lost the Edge? long blog post

I suppose it was coincidence or maybe fate, but the topics in the Streitmatter chapter presentations over the past week have coincided with a concert that I attended that got me thinking about political action and debate. The concert was of a band called Umphrey's McGee (which I had never heard before the concert but decided to go anyways because lets be serious, concerts rock) who played mostly upbeat, jam-band, Phish-style, music and I must say I had a good time. What got me thinking about politics however was a comment that one of the singers made about the lack of political action in DC. It was an innocent comment which was basically a liberal-drenched cliche about Bush being a moron and that we should "Get out of Iraq" and that it was our responsibility based on our geographical position at the time. The comment would have typically rolled right off me, but our classes' recent discussion of musicians as agents of political change got me thinking.

What Happened?

Where's our generations Dylan?

Where's our generations Hendrix?

What are our musicians singing about?

I must admit that I do not listen to much popular-mainstream music anymore (but honestly, does anybody else our age), but I can't help hearing it in passing every once in a while. What I have heard lately doesn't even compare to soulful and emotional rendition of "The Star-spangled Banner", instead it sounds something like a broken synthesizer regurgitating 1980's top forty hits. It is bothersome that our music has become commodified to the point that there is no longer room for politics or meaningful social issues.
Don't get me wrong however, I might be blind to a sweeping political music scene that is prominent to everyone but me, but I simply just don't see it. Sorry. Hear it. Maybe I'm tuning in to tune out, but I can't see our musicians now-a-days taking a strong political stance on something (sans the Dixie Chicks). Maybe I'm just jaded because I happen to be a fan of classic rock, but I'd like to see our musicians shed their politically apathetic images and start talking to the youth like the musicians of the counterculture revolution on the 60's.