John Fund looks at three books about the Contract With America, the document that helped the Republicans win control of Congress a decade ago. One of the books is by the master-mind behind the Contract, Newt Gingrich.
I view the Contract as a key element in the process through which the Republicans supplanted the Democrats as the party of pragmatism (a phenomenon I discussed here). The key precursor to the process was Bill Clinton’s decision to pursue health care reform before welfare reform, and his failure to pursue health care reform through a pragmatic approach. This opened the door to Gingrich to seize the mantle of pragmatism, which he did through the Contract. When Gingrich squandered his momentum, the parties entered a brief period of equipoise, which ended with the emergence of another pragmatist, George W. Bush.
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