Book Write-Up: Trump’s America, by Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich. Trump’s America: The Truth about Our Nation’s Great Comeback. Center Street, 2018. See here to purchase the book.

Newt Gingrich was the Republican Speaker of the House during the 1990’s and a Republican Presidential candidate in 2012. He has written numerous books. Trump’s America is a defense of President Donald Trump.

Here are some thoughts:

A. A glaring omission in this book is that Gingrich, as far as I can recall, rarely comments on the non-interventionist aspects of Trump’s foreign policy. Trump ran for President denouncing the Iraq War as a mistake. Gingrich, by contrast, categorizes certain critics of the Iraq War as members of the anti-American left. While Trump does change his positions regularly, a salient aspect of his foreign policy approach, to which he has returned more than once, includes non-interventionism in Syria and a cooperative relationship between the U.S. and such nations as Russia and North Korea. But Gingrich chooses to highlight the more bellicose aspects of Trump’s foreign policy, such as Trump’s opposition to America’s nuclear agreement with Iran. Moreover, when people mention Trump’s averse relationship to the “Deep State,” they usually mean the national security apparatus: the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, etc. But Gingrich, in criticizing the “swamp,” focuses more on domestic bureaucratic regulators and agencies. One might think that Gingrich’s Republican establishment views color his glowing presentation of Trump’s policies, when part of Trump’s appeal is that he is a non-establishment Republican. This is largely accurate, but not entirely, for Gingrich defends Trump’s protectionist policies and admits error in his own initial support for NAFTA.

B. Gingrich supports treatment rather than incarceration for opioid addicts as well as endorses criminal justice reform. This may differ from the conventional “tough on criminals,” “lock them up” stance of conservatives, but the Republican Party in general has become more open to criminal justice reform over the past decade. Gingrich, however, goes so far as to criticize the stern anti-drug policy of then Attorney General Jeff Sessions, which is noteworthy in light of the predominantly pro-Trump tone of this book.

C. Gingrich includes a chapter that criticizes the left’s opposition to free speech. Such opposition includes safe spaces, the disruption of conservative speakers on campuses, and the firing of people who express politically incorrect views. Gingrich points to Trump’s offensive comments as examples of his defense of free speech. Gingrich admits that Trump sometimes goes too far, yet he applauds Trump’s refreshing candor and how Trump highlights concrete examples of where liberal policies have hurt people (e.g., illegal immigrant gangs). Gingrich also offers an informative presentation of left-wing stances on speech: the view that words actually do hurt people and thus should be regulated. Free speech is a difficult issue. Gingrich may be correct that conservatives should be allowed to freely express their views, but he should not be surprised when liberals lash back. Free speech works both ways. The challenge is finding a way for different views to co-exist peacefully and respectfully. And the question, then, is whether Trump advances that goal through his rhetoric. Part of Trump’s appeal, of course, is that he challenges the sanitized, banal nature of conventional political discourse and speaks his mind. But is there a way to allow different views to co-exist peacefully, outside of that sanitized, banal approach to political discourse, with all its rules of civility and decorum? Gingrich did not really address these issues.

D. Gingrich defends Trump’s tax policy. While Trump’s tax cuts may not look like much for the middle class, he argues, those who economically struggle will appreciate the extra money and will put it to good use. This is fine, but Gingrich also argues that middle class people should take some responsibility for their health care costs. Taxes are bad, but premiums and deductibles are not so bad?

E. In his chapter on immigration, Gingrich favors immigrants assimilating after they come to the U.S. This stands out to me because, when one listens to certain white nationalists, one can get the impression that they are in favor of non-whites keeping to themselves and preserving their own culture, just so long as they allow whites to do the same. Gingrich, of course, is not a white nationalist, but white nationalists have supported Trump in the past. I just wonder how they hold their views together. Like Gingrich, they argue that a society that is overly heterogeneous can be problematic. Yet, unlike Gingrich, they tend to endorse separatism among races and ethnicities.

F. Overall, the book is an intelligent conservative defense of President Trump’s policies and critique of the policies of Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama. Gingrich provides arguments and research for his claims—-about the pitfalls of net neutrality, Obamacare, the TPP, and the Iran nuclear agreement; the hindering affect of taxes and regulations on American businesses and innovation; the failure of the Paris climate accord to significantly affect climate change; the success of welfare reform in increasing the income of recipients and reducing dependency; the American Bar Association’s liberal bias, and the attacks by President Obama on for-profit vocational schools. Gingrich largely depicts Trump as a successful President. Trump’s economic policies have created 3 per cent growth in GDP, after the media proclaimed this would never happen. Trump has also placed conservative judges in the judiciary at an unprecedented pace. In addition, Gingrich critiques the Mueller investigation, presenting examples of what Gingrich believes to be its abuses. This book is one-sided, of course, and people can come back at Gingrich’s arguments with arguments to the contrary. But, as a defense of Trump, this book raises important considerations.

I checked this book out from the library. My review is honest.

 

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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