Semester in Washington
Newt Gingrich: The Country Needs to Embrace Future Pioneers
WASINGTON, D.C, March 22, 2013 - With debates over federal spending – the sequester – as his backdrop, Newt Gingrich urged Georgetown University Semester in Washington, D.C., students to think like future pioneers, not Washington bureaucrats.
“The greatest frustration I’ve had in the years since I left the speakership is the virtual impenetrability of Washington to new ideas and new thinking,” said Gingrich, who met with and spoke with students and guests on March 11 at Healy Hall’s historical Riggs Library. “I would argue that the great problem in Washington is not right versus left, Republican versus Democrat, it is prisoners of the past versus pioneers of the future.”
Gingrich reminded the audience of the great inventors of the past, such as Thomas Edison and the Wright brothers, who were not afraid to try, fail and try again. He then pointed to the breakthroughs of the future – the Google driverless car, regenerative medicine and 3D printing, for example – that get little attention in public debates, but are key – he believes – in controlling spending and revolutionizing manufacturing, health care and the American spirit.
“I’m not afraid of the sequester because I think, frankly, we need to rethink all of government both in defense and the domestic side,” said the former 58th speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and 2012 GOP candidate for president.
Igniting the Growing Pool of Expertise
Gingrich believes government has ignored two important factors for too long: that there are more scientists and technologists available today than were available in all of previous human history combined and that there are enormous pools of people who are willing to go out and monetize breakthroughs.
“The speed of moving an idea from the laboratory to the customer is accelerating at the very same time that the sheer volume of new knowledge is accelerating. That’s the number one fact nobody in Washington seems to pay attention to.”
On the budget debate, Gingrich said government needs less sequester squabbling and more backing of pioneering ideas such as those espoused in Lt. Gov. of California Gavin Newsom’s book, Citizenville, which urges the use the Internet to reward citizen-generated solutions to community problems – much like Farmville simulation game on Facebook. Such ideas, Gingrich said, call for a change in state, not just incremental changes in policy.
Politicians have been “desperately seeking to avoid the future,” Gingrich said. Even with recent breakthroughs in smartphones, tablets, mobile applications and Big Data, Gingrich said he is shocked “how little of that has penetrated government policy.”
As for the sequester, whichever budget is passed, Gingrich noted that we are still talking about annual government spending of more than $3 trillion. “You might as well spend some of it intelligently,” he said, noting that he is frustrated with both parties and their resistance to pioneering change.
Gingrich, along with his wife, Callista, have created Gingrich Productions to help transform government through entrepreneurship and new inventions. In his blog post, “Pioneers of the Future and Prisoners of the Past,” he discusses the potential of emerging ideas to reshape government in more detail.
Ultimately, Gingrich said, he envisions a site where future pioneers can share ideas and where “every citizen gets to be an inventor of a dramatically better future.”
Addressing the Semester in Washington students directly, Gingrich urged: “You have no idea what you’re going to need to know 15 years from now, so learn everything. You are at the beginning of being a pioneering generation that is going to have, in fact, extraordinary opportunities.”