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Partisan politics, media tactics are part of Newt Gingrich’s lasting legacy in GOP

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Photo by Gage Skidmore CC-BY-SA 2.0 : https://bit.ly/3gKe2BP
Photo by Gage Skidmore CC-BY-SA 2.0 : https://bit.ly/3gKe2BP

The current era of hyper-partisan politics was started by Newt Gingrich over 30 years ago. Tactics from his playbook can be seen in rise of the Tea Party, the Trump presidential campaign and the Freedom Caucus.

In 1978, Gingrich was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the 6th Congressional District of Georgia. Over the course of a decade, Gingrich displayed political prowess by violating norms, overthrowing the status quo and whirling damning character accusations against his opponents.

Essentially, he pitted himself squarely against what he called a “corrupt democratic establishment.” In 1989, Gingrich’s political strategy worked; Democrat Jim Wright, the 48th Speaker of the House of Representatives resigned amid allegations of corruption. Soon Republicans would win back control of the House.

Gingrich’s style and strategy have reverberated throughout the decades since his rise to prominence. For questions about how the party of Lincoln became the party of Trump, one should look no further than  the 50th Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich.

Guests: Julian E. Zelizer, author of "Burning Down The House: Newt Gingrich, the Fall of a Speaker, and the Rise of the New Republican Party," professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University and a CNN Political Analyst

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*This interview originally aired on Monday, July 13.

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Kim Johnson is the producer for Texas Public Radio’s live, call-in show The Source. She is a Trinity University alum with bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Spanish, and a Master of Arts Degree from the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.