(CNSNews.com) - America is on the cusp of a "golden age of freedom and prosperity," said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in a speech Thursday before a group of young conservatives.
No doubt, America faces "enormous challenges," Gingrich told the crowd. But he predicted that the young conservatives in attendance, along with conservatives nationwide, would lead America to a brighter future.
Gingrich was speaking at the Young America's Foundation's 29th National Conservative Students Conference, held at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Other speakers at the week-long conference included former Virginia Sen. George Allen, talk-radio host Michael Reagan and syndicated columnist Robert Novak.
Gingrich told the assembled students they were the potential leaders of the next great wave of American reformers, in the tradition of the Jeffersonians, the Lincoln Republicans and the New Deal Democrats.
But for that wave to sweep across the country and help build a better America, young conservatives need to reject the current modus operandi in the political and social culture, he said.
Disdain for the system
America today, according to Gingrich, is divided. There is "the world that works," exemplified by the success and accomplishment of private enterprise, and there is "the world that fails," typified by the "old decaying bureaucracies" of Washington, D.C. -- the remnants of President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society programs.
The old bureaucratic, one-size-fits-all model is slow, inefficient and wasteful, said Gingrich. On the contrary, companies such as FedEx and UPS, for instance, can track millions of packages they are shipping in real time, while the federal government has failed to locate the millions of illegal immigrants living in American society, he said.
Gingrich then quipped that his solution to ending illegal immigration would be to mail packages to those illegal immigrants, store their addresses and then round the immigrants up.
The former House Speaker said he was "troubled by the failure of both major parties" in correctly addressing the issues and problems Americans face. Democrats, said Gingrich, are "trapped in a fantasy world" and the "party of unionized bureaucracy" while Republicans refuse to admit the nature of the systematic failure of big government.
Gingrich cited the example of Detroit -- which he had previously discussed on Fox News Sunday -- as an indicator of this failure. Detroit epitomizes the failure of the bureaucracy-based approach, he said. The Motor City has lost nearly half its population over the last 60 years. Its residents now have a per-capita income that is ranked 62nd in the nation. In 1950, Detroit ranked first.
Today, only 25 percent of Detroit's high school freshmen eventually graduate on schedule. And a majority of those who drop out of high school, said Gingrich, are likely to end up in jail. "How can we tolerate systems more likely to send people to prison than to college?" he said.
As for President Bush's global war on terror, "none of you should believe we are winning this war," said Gingrich. "There is no evidence that we're winning. ... This is a phony war."
Further, the failure to swiftly detect and deal with the terrorist cell members involved in the planned attack on Fort Dix, and the lawsuit of the "flying imams" against US Airways revealed that "our system is broken," said Gingrich, and that "something is fundamentally wrong."
To defeat the threat of radical Islamists, America must devote more resources to its intelligence, defense and foreign relations services, he said, adding that Web sites and religious services that incite Muslims to commit jihad should be shut down.
"For us to be serious about winning this campaign is going to require a dramatically more serious strategy and a dramatic overhaul of our bureaucracies, and a significant increase in resources," said Gingrich.
Presidential ambitions muted
There has been speculation that Gingrich may run for president in 2008. He has fueled that speculation by dropping hints to the media and expressing disdain for the current conventional means of running for president.
While Gingrich did not discuss his views on running for president at the conference, conservative and author Craig Shirley told Cybercast News Service that he shares Gingrich's disdain for the enormous fundraising and bureaucratic operations prevalent in contemporary presidential campaigns.
"The permanent power structure in Washington is the national media, the K Street lobbyists and the campaign consultants," said Shirley. "Politicians are merely vehicles in which to have fun and profit.
"The candidates come and go. The congressmen come and go. The senators come and go. But the media and K Street, and the campaign consultants are here forever. They take over. They're like cockroaches that come out in the middle of the night, and they take over."
Shirley emphasized that the means to break the hold of Washington's "consultant-ocracy" rests with the American public. "The consultants are not the gate-keepers to the nomination," he said. "The voters are."
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