Burning Down the House

Burning Down the House

Newt Gingrich, the Fall of A Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party

Book - 2020
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"The story of how Newt Gingrich and his allies tainted American politics, launching an enduring era of brutal partisan warfare When Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, President Obama observed that Trump "is not an outlier; he is a culmination, a logical conclusion of the rhetoric and tactics of the Republican Party for the past ten, fifteen, twenty years." In Burning Down the House, historian Julian Zelizer pinpoints the moment when our country was set on a path towards an era of bitterly partisan and ruthless politics, an era that was ignited by Newt Gingrich and his allies. In 1989, Gingrich brought down the Democratic Speaker of the House Jim Wright and catapulted himself into the national spotlight. Perhaps more than any other politician, Gingrich introduced the rhetoric and tactics that have shaped Congress and the Republican Party for the last three decades. Elected to Congress in 1978, Gingrich quickly became one of the most powerful figures in America not through innovative ideas or charisma, but through a calculated campaign of attacks against political opponents, casting himself as a savior in a fight of good versus evil. Taking office in the post-Watergate era, he weaponized the good government reforms newly introduced to fight corruption, wielding the rules in ways that shocked the legislators who had created them. His crusade against Democrats culminated in the plot to destroy the political career of Speaker Wright. While some of Gingrich's fellow Republicans were disturbed by the viciousness of his attacks, his party enjoyed his successes so much that they did little collectively to stand in his way. Democrats, for their part, were alarmed, but did not want to sink to his level and took no effective actions to stop him. It didn't seem to matter that Gingrich's moral conservatism was hypocritical or that his methods were brazen, his accusations of corruption permanently tarnished his opponents. This brand of warfare worked, not as a strategy for governance but as a path to power, and what Gingrich planted, his fellow Republicans reaped. He lead them to their first majority in Congress in decades, and his legacy extends far beyond his tenure in office. From the rise of the Tea Party to the Trump presidential campaign, his fingerprints can be seen throughout some of the most divisive episodes in contemporary American politics. Burning Down the House presents the alarming narrative of how Gingrich and his allies created a new normal in Washington, introducing ruthless and destructive practices that have endured today"-- Provided by publisher
Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, 2020
ISBN: 9781594206658
1594206651
Characteristics: 356 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm

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