The Animal We’ve Come to Call Newt

The day started out with another media moment barking some new sound byte on Newt Gingrich’s latest verbal escapades. This left me mulling over the question about how this guy continues to pull in the poll numbers he does. Granted the competition from the Republican side of the bench is not too full of charisma but to have Newt as the front runner in that pack certainly took (and is taking) me by surprise. For most of the day that question plagued me. It wasn’t until I was on my way downtown for some holiday purchase that I came across what I believe might hold a key to this mystery.

In the 1800s Japan’s main route from the shogun’s capital (Edo) to the imperial one (Kyoto) was the Tokaido. The Tokaido route held 59 stations where the people who scurried about day after day traveled back and forth. This is how I’ve come to think of the light rail system that leads from the Technological Center south of Denver into the very heart of the city; a mixtures of cultures and neighborhoods converging upon the public transit system day after day, the working class folks. I look around at the passengers and notice that a growing number of us are plugged in, tuned into a phone or a hand held device of some sort that takes us away from the world where our body exists. The common problems of your daily lives can be tuned out with a pair of ear buds. Our mingling in society consists more and more at the touch of a button. My point is not to argue whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, this is merely an observation on how our lives are changing. A dual reality has sprung forth in our lives and now we have the cyber life as well as the flesh and blood life.  We electronic junkies bounce along inside the comfort of the light rail train, soundless shells plugged in for cerebral information transfer along the Tokaido.

Now back to this animal we’ve come to call Newt. This man cut his teeth in the House of Representatives back in the late seventies and grew to popularity  as Minority Whip from 895 to 95. The guy’s been chewing balls for quite some time and knows how to play the game of politics. I admit I thought for sure we had seen the last of him (as far as being a viable political candidate) when Bill Clinton came into office but one day, there he was rearing his big melon head in front of the camera as a Republican hopeful. In spite of his hypocritical  family value antics, in spite of his foot in mouth blunders, this creature from the depths of the Republican Magog continues to rise to the top of the heap, and may well become a contender for the presidency. Some may scoff at this but I find it easier each day to believe he could do it. The other GOP candidates continue to falter and the numbers keep faltering on Barack Obama’s favored status with  more and more Americans. The President’s latest blunder involved a U.S. drone being captured by Iran and any way you want to slice, he will be held accountable. Everyone is looking for change, quick change, change as quick as the touch of that button on your computer or iPhone. Think back to how the current president utilized technology to market himself, it could happen again and if enough people from the right jump on board they could rally round someone like Gingrich before the rest of the country knows what hit them.

One last point popped out as I observed the traveling common folk, plugged in and tuned out. The means to utilize technology in order to stay politically active isn’t being taken advantage of as much as I had thought. Peering over the shoulders of people as I passed by I noticed quite a few were plugged into a social media site or playing some mind numbing game that melted away the outside world. Staying connected or even more informed with what our nation’s leaders are up to is the furthest thing from a lot of people’s mind. In point, most of them are playing those games to directly forget about our nation’s leaders. This can and will leave the door open to  a political coup for anyone with enough connections in the world of politics to gain just enough needed support to win big in the November elections. Rather than relying on what the country wants or needs to heal in this world threatening economy, all it really takes is enough cash and a huge toe hold in the Electoral College; Newt definitely knows that game.

So keep an eye on the horizon folks and watch this amphibious Titan of the GOP while he struggles to maintain his status as the darling child of the Republicans. The fun will continue into 2012 as the race heats up.


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