By Dovid Efune
In the United States, among the politically ambitious on both sides of the spectrum, there is one label that is feared above all others; ‘politician.’ So disillusioned has the country become with its political leadership that the very label, the very title and job description guarantees negative connotation.
On Saturday night 7.6 million viewers watched Mitt Romney try and pin the label on Newt Gingrich who dodged the silver bullet with a slick counter attack, telling Romney that, “the only reason you didn’t become a career politician is because you lost to Teddy Kennedy in 1994.”
According to some pundits the rapid rise of former candidate Herman Cain could be attributed to his undeniable status as a political outsider, a stark contrast to the other candidates all of whom have had experience in elected office.
Conventional wisdom says that this status is judged on the extent of an individual’s professional career that is spent in politics. But in truth, this is by no means the complete criteria by which the general public makes the call.
What we, the electorate, are looking for most of all, is someone that can be trusted to lead, to make the right decisions, and not always the popular ones. A ‘politician’ in our eyes, is a wholesale panderer who has no values, no constants, no guarantees and consistencies. What people hunger for most, is a leader. One who will present his opinions and his positions without fear of the consequences, and who will voice his view before conducting a poll on the popularity of the subject at hand.
This may be precisely why Newt Gingrich is trouncing all other candidates in the polls. As of now, he ranks 6th in fundraising, has established limited national infrastructure, and according to Talking Points Memo ‘has next to no campaign organization in Iowa.’ He has also admitted infidelity and made some highly questionable pronouncements over the course of his career, but has no problem saying what he believes and sticking to it.
Over the weekend he proved his courage as a leader when he expressed his ideas on what is true about the Middle East saying, “Remember, there was no Palestine as a state – it was part of the Ottoman Empire. I think we have an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs and historically part of the Arab community and they had the chance to go many places.”
Most impressively he doubled down on his comments at the Presidential Debate as the moderators questioned him on Saturday night, even securing concessions on the subject from the other candidates, who, while critiquing his modus operandi, acknowledged the truth of his statements.
Gingrich asked, “Is what I said factually correct? Yes. Is it historically true? Yes,” he answered. “We are in a situation where every day rockets are fired into Israel while the United States’, current administration tries to pressure the Israelis into a peace process… Somebody ought to have the courage to tell the truth. These people are terrorists. They teach terrorism in their schools. They have textbooks that say, if there are 13 Jews and nine Jews are killed, how many Jews are left? We pay for those textbooks through our aid money. It’s fundamentally time for somebody to have the guts to stand up and say, enough lying about the Middle East.”
A flurry of criticism followed from many quarters, yet Gingrich’s poll numbers continue to climb. According to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey released on Wednesday, Gingrich “has 40% support among likely GOP voters, compared with 23% for Mr. Romney.”
The point is exactly that. Voters are so desperate for a candidate who will speak truth to power, that they will accept Gingrich with all his complications and flaws. So eager are they for leadership, and so tired of condescension and hypocrisy that primary voters are willing to give him a second look. In the words of Penny Nance the president of Concerned Women for America, “they trust him more than Romney.”
Taking a stand on the truth about Israel has helped Gingrich gain the trust of the Republican base. It has helped him sideline his ever smooth competitor Mitt Romney, and it may just be a defining issue if he is chosen to face the ‘perfect president’ Barack Obama.
The author is the director of the Algemeiner Journal and the GJCF and can be e-mailed firstname.lastname@example.org.