Before you newly active Republicans commit to Newt Gingrich as your presidential nominee on the basis of the recent debates, here’s a bit of Newt history you ought to know. I promise you, it’s going to come up if he’s the candidate.
The day after the Republicans’ historic takeover of the House of Representatives in the 1994 election, Newt was off and running, giving a series of Fidel Castro-style speeches about “the Third Wave information revolution.” It had the unmistakable ring of lingo from his new-age gurus, Alvin and Heidi Toffler.
(Newt, who was married at the time, also began dating again.)
A few weeks later, when Newt was elected House speaker by the incoming Republican conference, there was a small elderly couple standing by his side as he gave a one-hour acceptance speech. It soon became clear who they were, when he issued a reading list to the Republican legislators. At the top of the list was a book by the Tofflers.
Hadn’t Republicans just won on a platform of smaller government? Instead of a Republican victory, the ’94 election seemed to be a victory for the Tofflers’ cyber-babble about “social wavefront analysis,” “anticipatory democracy,” “de-massification,” “materialismo,” “the Third Wave” and “decision loads.”
Then, in his first week as speaker, Gingrich was again promoting the Tofflers around town, introducing them at a technology conference and giving a speech titled “From Virtuality to Reality.”
How about a speech on Republican plans to reform entitlement programs?
Gingrich soon announced that all legislation passed by the new Congress would have to pass a test: Will it help move America into the Tofflers’ vision of a “Third Wave”?
If this guy ever became president, he could end up foisting EST on the nation.
It was also a Toffler-inspired idea that led Gingrich to propose giving poor families a tax credit to buy computers — an idea he called “dumb” just one week later.
(Newt’s denouncing Paul Ryan’s Social Security reform as “right-wing social engineering” and then apologizing a week later — and then retracting his apology — was not uncharacteristic.)
The Tofflers were a couple of old folks who couldn’t figure out how to program their VCRs, so they began writing about the “shock” of technology and how we needed government planning to deal with technological overload.
Their big idea was that the world was about to change faster than it ever had before, creating a technological explosion that would frighten and baffle the masses — much like the bewildering VCR clock. The government would have to have advisers and committees in order to ease the transition.
The facts are nearly the exact opposite. In the first half of the 20th century, we got widespread use of the automobile, the airplane, the telephone, electricity, radio and television, indoor plumbing, air conditioning and refrigeration, the computer, nuclear power and rockets.
All we got in the second half of the 20th century were some improvements on one of those inventions — the computer — with the personal computer, the Internet and the iPhone. (Boomers were more focused on acid trips than space trips and dropped the ball on the hard work of pushing scientific progress forward.)
Far from needing government agencies to help us “cope” with these advances — “Scientific Futurists,” a “Technology Ombudsman” and a “Council of Social Advisers,” as proposed by the Tofflers — the masses have taken to these improvements like fish to water.