In 1993 and 1994, Newt Gingrich changed the way that the Republican party does business. Before Gingrich, there were policy differences, but strong working relationships allowed major legislation to move when Reagan and Bush Sr. worked with Democratic Speaker Tip O’Neill.
Faced with the election of Bill Clinton, Gingrich offerred a new approach designed to change the long-term minority status of Republicans in the House and Senate: fight President Clinton on everything.
The battle began on day one. Republicans attacked on Clinton on simple equality for gays and lesbians in the military. They defeated Clinton’s economic stimulus bill. When Clinton passed his budget, his victory came with zero Republican votes in the House. And then came the healthcare, which ended in disaster for the Clinton Administration.
By the fall of 1994, the Republicans had succeeded in making the Clinton Administration appear ineffective. Gingrich launched his Contract with America. The Republicans took the House and Senate.
Today’s Republicans are working straight out of the 1993-1994 Gingrich playbook. So, what do we do?