Speaking at the Greenville/Spartanburg GOP Bronze Elephant Dinner in Duncan, South Carolina on Friday night, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, in response to a question about what the American dream is about, had the most exceptional moment of the 2012 cycle.
As he is emerging as the chief anti-Mitt Romney challenger in South Carolina (Gingrich is a strong second, according to numerous South Carolina polls released this week), Gingrich described the America many feel will be just a memory if President Barack Obama wins another term and articulated why the preservation of that America should never be taken for granted and how Americans should be proactive in ensuring their children and grandchildren inherit an American with gritty, Jacksonian values not unlike the one they inherited.
“Countries can die,” Gingrich powerfully said, referring to a lesson he learned while his father was stationed overseas. “And Leadership can make an enormous difference.”
Gingrich noted that he grew up surrounded “by people who were passionate about America” who loved America because “they did not have that much economically” and was raised by a grandmother who was from a generation that instilled in him a belief that “George Washington was a heroic figure and the founding fathers led remarkable lives.”
“We didn’t think we were poor,” Gingrich said. “ We were Americans, and therefore we were rich, we had freedoms and a sense of safety.”
Gingrich said that the “American dream is to recognize first that we exist under our Creator with unalienable rights” and, therefore, “no president, judge, or bureaucrat can take away our rights.”
Gingrich then discussed the Scots-Irish, Jacksonian tradition that fights for the American dream and to preserve the God-given rights of every American, can referred to it as a “very deep strain in us that intellectuals are often terrified of” that comes in part from South Carolina, western North Carolina, and Tennessee.
Gingrich was aiming directly at the Reagan coalition in the state that was responsible for propelling Reagan to the 1980 Republican nomination.
“We are a tough country,” Gingrich said defiantly. “We are a country that believes in the flag that has a snake on it that says ‘don’t tread on me.’ We’re a country that believes that we have ‘not yet begun to fight.’”
He said that to be an American means that “you have to love the country, love what it has stood for, you have to love what it offers every single American of every background” and work every day so that you can pass on that country to your children and grandchildren because America is a “treasure that we should not lightly give up or be allowed to be taken away from us.”
Gingrich’s moment can be seen here.