Former Speaker of the House, Republican presidential contender, and defender of American civilization Newt Gingrich will address the University community in Gaston Hall tomorrow at 5 p.m. on the topic of “Giving Young Americans the Right to Choose a Personal Social Security Account.” It’s unclear if he will also have an Etch-a-Sketch handy.
The event is sponsored by the Lecture Fund and GU College Republicans. Doors open at 4 p.m. and seats will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. Gingrich is coming to the Hilltop in advance of the D.C. Republican primary, which will take place Tuesday. The winner of the primary, expected to be Mitt Romney, will win 16 convention delegates.
Although privatizing Social Security may be an unpopular notion on a liberal college campus, Kevin Preskenis (COL ’12), National Coalitions Coordinator for the Gingrich campaign and one of the organizers of the event, wasn’t concerned about the speech’s reception in an email to Vox:
Once he outlines his plan, I’m confident many students will be fully on board. Social security is close to a broken system. Our generation will be faced with a choice: watch the system wither away or pay massive taxes to keep it alive. Newt’s social security program, based on the Chilean model, gives Americans more freedom in their retirement and creates dramatically more wealth in the long run. As a barometer of support among youth, over 230 college campuses have setup chapters in support of the plan.
The afternoon does not promise to be a completely quiet afternoon of pontification on the merits of privatization however, as Georgetown Occupy has called for a protest on Copley Lawn at the same time as the speech. Occupy member Cole Stangler (SFS ’13) explained the point of the protest in an email to Vox:
It’s important for Newt Gingrich to know that his bigoted politics in service of the 1% are rejected by the vast majority of young people in this country, and that he can’t come to a college campus and tell us why he wants to privatize our social security without expecting some sort of negative outcry.
Preskenis described his opinion of the planned protest in an email to Vox:
Maybe they’ll show up, maybe they won’t. They are welcome to protest in the designated area and I hope they conduct themselves civilly. Sure, they’re dramatic and loud, but I think all of these “protest” groups have proven themselves to be irrelevant to a constructive campus dialogue. Nobody is really sure what they stand for at this point except noise for noise’s sake.
Responding to critics of the protest, Occupy member Gina Bull (SFS’ 12) wrote in an email (emphasis hers):
I think protesting is about taking to the streets and occupying public discourse in the most equalizing way possible– it’s trumping political/cultural/economic power with the purely civic (as in popular, as in people) power of voices and, yes, the volume of those voices amplified by their collectiveness. In a time when “money is speech” and the 99%’s access to the public sphere is increasingly curtailed, I think to reject protest as a legitimate form of political speech is again to reinforce the inequality that the Occupy movement has so articulately brought to the fore.
According to Stangler, Georgetown Occupy is still ironing out the details for the protest.
Gingrich’s last appearance at Georgetown was two years ago, when he visited the Hilltop to promote the documentary film Nine Days that Changed the World, which he narrates with his wife.
It’s possible that Vox will have an opportunity to briefly interview Gingrich after the address, so if you any questions you’d like us to try to ask, let us know in the comments below.
[Editor's note: Stangler is a Voice staffer]