Former Speaker Newt Gingrich opened his talk last week Wednesday with an extended dissertation on early American politics, admitting it may have been “a bit more academic” than most expected.

  But he later brought it all together with two concepts he said ring true in Washington today.

   “... If you do not have a system of rule of law, you will inevitably end up with a dictatorship,” he said of lessons he’s learned from the decisions America’s first politicians made. “The second thing I understood was, we are surrounded by enemies. The world is dangerous, and we are surrounded by wolves — and the wolves will eat you.”

   While his prepared remarks were academic in tone and content, his comments were wide-ranging once he opened the floor to questions from the public.

   In a speech hosted by Ripon College’s Center for Politics and the People at the Great Hall, Gingrich addressed the dangers America faces from as far away as ISIS and as close as egotism in Washington, echoing that concern that wolves could be on America’s doorstep if Washington isn’t careful. 

   But it all was rooted in his opening remarks, in which he praised George Washington for setting an example of wresting power away from the powerful — himself — and giving it back to the process.

   “... You could make a pretty good argument that the most important single day in the 18th century in the history of freedom is not the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776; it is, in fact, Dec. 23, 1783, when ... he deliberately went down ... in order to turn over power by the 23rd, because he promised Martha he’d be home for Christmas Eve,” Gingrich said.

   Why was this important?

   “There was a big faction of Congress who was afraid [he would] become an American dictator,” Gingrich said.

Read the full story in the March 19, 2015 edition of the  Ripon Commonwealth Press.